At some point in your life, everyone has used a standard flashlight. Sadly, two billion people on the planet live in darkness without a reliable source of energy. Luckily, married couple Gene and Keidy Palusky are tackling this issue with their solar-powered flashlight called XTorch. They pitched it on Shark Tank but went home without a deal. As of 2023, XTorch is worth $1 million.
About the Founders
Gene Palusky from Edina, Minnesota, is the brains behind the business. He studied fine arts at Macalester College and earned his master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin. With this, he started out as a sculptor.
After 15 years as an artist struggling to pay bills, he decided to change his career. He went into the real estate business, buying and renovating old apartments for 20 years.
One day, he decided to take a vacation in the Dominican Republic. There, he met the love of his life and eventual wife. While Gene was the brains, Keidy was the heart.
Establishing the Company
Keidy helped Gene go on an adventure and leave his real estate business behind him. They traveled to countries in Africa, where many communities did not have access to electricity.
They were particularly touched by students who studied without light during the night time. The couple was further pushed to do something when Keidy got malaria, which she reportedly got while in the dark.
In 2015, Gene designed the XTorch solar flashlight. He also established EJ Case, the company responsible for manufacturing his products that sold for $60 each. Aside from providing light, it also served as a backup phone charger.
Shark Tank Appearance
In 2019, the Palusky couple had sales of $53,000 from their business, but they were still losing money. So the following year, they went to Shark Tank asking for $150,000 for 10% equity. They wanted to boost direct customer sales without having to rely on third-party retailers.
During the pitch, it came to the attention of the Sharks that the XTorch flashlight didn’t have a patent. They also got concerned about the company’s sales history, so most of them opted out.
However, Robert Herjavec came out of nowhere, offering $500,000 to buy the entire business. Gene countered with $1 million for 100% but was denied. He then asked for at least $750,000, but Robert said no once more. So, the entrepreneurs walked out with no deal.
After Shark Tank
Many Shark Tank fans liked the idea and story behind XTorch. Perhaps this is why the company had more than 2,000 orders after the episode aired on TV. This is a 350% increase from their previous year’s sales.
They have received a 4.5-star rating on Amazon, which indicates that there is a demand for their product. However, many viewers also believed that the Paluskys should’ve taken up Robert’s offer. Still, the couple continued their operations, but now they are focusing more on giving back.
XTorch is contributing 25% of its profits to various charity organizations around the world. On the business side of things, its growth has been steady, as the company’s value is currently sitting at $1 million. XTorch hopes to reach $3.2 million in revenue by 2024 and will need to double their sales every year to meet this target.