Marine Vet, Rob Dyer Pitches Idea to ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’
ABC News’ Producer Angel Canales and Editor Arthur Niemynski report:
ANNAPOLIS, Md.–When decorated combat veteran Maj. Rob Dyer was on tour in Afghanistan, his troops sometimes struggled to recover from arduous missions that required them to stay alert for long hours.
Dyer saw the need for something that could help the troops back up to speed without any negative side effects. His focus became to create an energy drink geared for special operations in the field to energize the troops. “We knew that whatever nutrition supplements we wanted to create, they needed to fit everybody else’s needs and not just troops,” he says. And that’s how he created RuckPack, a power-packed, caffeine-free vitamin dietary supplement.
“We didn’t want to be another ‘energy pouch’ all we do is fill that void of nutrition that you’re supposed to be getting in food anyway,” he says. He created RuckPack to help weary troops recover fast from fatigue and dehydration with minimal down time.
Dyer cashed out everything he had and put it into this idea. “I did it because I believed in the company and where it was going. But when you come back and you return to your family and you realize that you have taken all your cash away from all your future planning with your family, there are definitely some stressful times,” he says.
The first try at creating the energy drink wasn’t in a bottle. “At first, we couldn’t even afford bottles so we made a pill pack at first,” he says. But Dyer insisted on creating a shot. “When the pill pack tested well, that’s when we decided to create the shot. It took them three years to come up with the drink.
To his amazement, the manufacturing company minimum order quantity was 20,000 bottles. “We’re going to have to go in big to make this happen. We ordered 20,000 bottles based on our belief that it’s going to be a great product,” he says. RuckPack comes in a 2-ounce Tropical Peach Smoothie with vitamins B6 and B12, A-GPC, Theobromine, MSM, CoQ10, potassium, magnesium, calcium and branched chain amino acids.
Shark Tank Adventure
In the process of promoting the product and getting some financial help, Dyer decided to go to the ABC show “Shark Tank.” He didn’t make the cut during his first audition but a couple of months later they were featured in Entrepreneur magazine.
“I was called on my cell phone by one of the producers on Shark Tank and he said, hey I have a TV show, I don’t know if you heard of it but it’s called Shark Tank and I think you’ll be a great contestant. I thought it was one of my friends messing around with me,” he says. Dyer couldn’t believe the producer and assumed it was a prank. The producer asked him what he had been up to since he was cut. “I got a little snotty and told him. I got the shot myself. I paid for them and I sold them in six weeks,” he says.
He finally appeared on the show in November last year. Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec from “Shark Tank” bit into Dyer’s idea and agreed to invest $150,000 in the company in return for 20 percent ownership. “I want to say that it was the hardest thing I ever did in my life but it really wasn’t. I walked down that hallway and I entered knowing exactly my product and my story,” he says. Twenty minutes into the conversation, a deal was made. “It just felt awesome,” he says.
Rob Dyer teaches accounting and terrorist financing at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
His message for vets:
“For veterans getting out thinking I got a better idea, something new that I want to start: Do your homework and know that it won’t be easy for you. Know that you’ll be working hard to make it happen but absolutely do it because all of those qualities that helped you get through your military career are what’s going to make you successful.”
Second Tour is an ABC News digital series profiling the lives of military veterans who are doing unique things in the civilian world, including vets who took on an entrepreneurial venture to create a business, grassroots organization or a second career. For more stories visit http://abcnews.go.com/US/Second_Tour/.