Windcatcher created a technology to efficiently inflate mattress pads with air. Founder Ryan Frayne blew the Sharks away with his pitch and landed a deal with Lori Greiner. Unfortunately, it didn’t close because of legal issues, and Ryan soon passed away from cancer. Windcatcher shut down, but it was worth $4 million at its peak.
Ryan Frayne’s Background
Ryan Frayne was from Brooklyn, New York. He got a computer science degree from the DigiPen Institute of Technology and a degree in marketing from the University of South Florida.
He started his career as a software tester at Amaze Entertainment and later worked as an associate at Digital Aptitude. In 2009, he spearheaded Oceanic Innovation as president and head of research and development.
At 32 years old, he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer but continued inventing while he battled the disease. Ryan had some good ideas in his hospital bed, but cancer didn’t let him turn them into reality and he passed away in 2018.
While on a family outing to the beach, Ryan’s brother tried to manually inflate an air bed but failed. This became his lightbulb moment to make the first prototype of the Windcatcher mattress.
The Brooklyn native experimented with air pressure and came across a science principle known as entrainment. He learned to harness it and apply it to valves for inflatable objects. Once he made a successful airbag, he proceeded to mattress.
He launched in 2013 with a Kickstarter campaign and looked to raise $50,000. Backers loved it, and Frayne ended up raising around $150,000.
Shark Tank Appearance
The fruitful campaign gave Frayne a confidence boost and in 2015, he featured on season seven of Shark Tank, asking for $200,000 for 8%.
The Sharks were intrigued with Ryan’s demo and showed a lot of interest in the mechanics of Windcatcher. The business had $165,000 in lifetime sales and sold to retailers at a 60% margin. Straightaway Kevin smelled a licensing deal.
A bidding war broke out, Chris Sacca and Lori Greiner initially teamed up, but Ryan was more enamored with Lori’s solo offer of $200,000 for 5% and a line of credit. The highlight of the pitch was the hilarious way Frayne turned down Kevin’s royalty offer which has gone viral online!
After Shark Tank
The future looked bright for Windcatcher Technology but things didn’t end well. The company had a lengthy legal battle against Cascade Designs, which allegedly used Windcatcher’s technology to create their own line of products. Thankfully, he won the lawsuit and secured the full patent.
The deal with Lori never closed and Ryan spent a fortune on legal bills. In the midst of all of this, the entrepreneur was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. Before passing away, he handed the business over to his wife and best friend.
The two launched an IndieGoGo campaign for the second version of Ryan’s flagship product in 2019. It got an average of 3.6 stars from 30 Amazon users. However, the campaign failed, and it appears Windcatcher is no longer in business. Hopefully, they were able to license out their patented inflation valve so Ryan’s idea could live on!