ZipString is the new toy in town. It’s a string long that uses different forces to defy gravity and work like magic. You can create different shapes and have a lot of fun fooling around with them. Founders Stephen Fazio and Austin Hillam pitched the product on Shark Tank and got a deal with Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec. As of 2023, ZipString is worth an estimated $1 million.
About the Founders
Stephen Fazio and Austin Hillam are young entrepreneurs from Atlanta, Georgia. Fazio is an electrical engineering student at Georgia Institute of Technology, while Hilliam is currently studying manufacturing engineering at Brigham Young University.
Though they grew up in the same area, they didn’t know each other as kids. However, they are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their bishop was the one who introduced them to each other.
Fazio originally made the first version of the device at a Georgia Tech student competition in 2021. It won the advanced category prize, so Stephen was inspired to improve the device over the winter break.
Stephen ran into a lot of roadblocks until he met Austin at a dinner. They talked about the device and soon started working together, using Hillam’s family basement as their workshop.
In the end, they created a string toy that seemingly floats in the air, and the user can control its movements in different ways. ZipString manipulates forces like tension, drag, and gravity to create mesmerizing stunts and tricks.
The founders put their college education on hold to start production in late 2021 and got help from Austin’s dad. Shipping was a big challenge because of the pandemic, but friends and family helped them manage.
Getting on Shark Tank
ZipString made a lot of noise on social media when it launched and has got more than 200 million views on social media. Dude Perfect also featured the device on their tour.
This helped the company get a massive head start. Because of this, Stephen and Austin raised a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2021. Their initial goal was $75,000, but have now raised over $90,000 from around 1,600 backers.
However, for the startup to reach its full potential they will need to raise capital and bring on a Shark. The founders applied to appear on Shark Tank and beat out thousands of applications to get a spot on the show. The guys delivered a strong presentation and came in dressed like Men in Black. The Sharks also had fun playing around with samples.
After Shark Tank
Their Shark Tank episode aired in December 2023 and the exposure from appearing on national TV gave a huge boost in sales. Stephen and Austin should have made at least $100,000 from the publicity and struggled to manage inventory levels.
The guys are looking to design new versions of the product but they currently have glow-in-the-dark and mini ZipStrings. They are all available to buy on Amazon and their website, Zipstring.com. The toy sells for $24.99 and is an affordable Christmas present!
Since going viral online, it has 127 reviews with an average rating of 3.7 stars on Amazon. Hopefully ZipString will be able to get a patent to protect their invention, ZipString is already having issues with other companies knocking off their product which will impact sales.