Redmond real estate agent and Woodinville resident Naushad Ali is revolutionizing the way people clean hair-clogged drains by eliminating the need entirely, and an investor on the hit ABC show Shark Tank took notice.
Ali was inspired to create Drain Strain after hiring a plumber to clear a drain clogged with his wife’s and daughter’s long hair. In 2012, he founded Disrupt by Design, LLC and set to work developing a solution to eliminate hair-clogged drains. After a series of approximately 50 iterations, Ali and his team at Disrupt by Design were able to settle on a working prototype.
Ali’s pitch on Shark Tank aired Tuesday. Drain Strain secured a $110,000 offer from investor Robert Herjavec for a 10 percent stake in the business with the contingency of Ali securing a licensing deal.
Ali says auditioning for Shark Tank began last year with a local casting call and is a long and grueling process. “It took months after the casting call to develop a marketing plan and hit the requirements of the show to be able to continue through the process,” Ali says. “You could get cut at every stage of the screening. You’re never guaranteed to be on the show until you get tickets to the screening, and even then you are not guaranteed that you are going to be aired on television.”
But the process was worth it, Ali says. Shark Tank‘s requirements forced him to produce marketing materials prior to taping. “That video opened up every door I wanted to enter, so I used that as my marketing vehicle,” Ali says.
Ali had set up meetings with Home Depot prior to the show, but he wasn’t able to leverage the experience and investment due to a nondisclosure agreement. Now that the show has aired and the information is public, he has been able to strengthen existing relationships with retailers.
Ali also was able to bring one of the original “sharks,” entrepreneur and pioneer of “As Seen on TV” branding Kevin Harrington, on board to handle Drain Strain’s marketing and brand management.
“Kevin is a real hands-on, actively engaged, proactive businessman, and he’s just very sharp in his advice,” Ali says. “He’s super excited about the product and thinks it has mass potential. I’m excited to have him dig in.”
Ali was able to get traction with Drain Strain at home and industry shows prior to appearing on Shark Tank. He says the product has been well-received so far.
“Plumbing isn’t a sexy category, but this is probably the second sexiest innovation in plumbing ever, and people get excited about it,” Ali says.
Even after receiving and accepting the investment offer, Ali says his biggest relief is not getting laughed off the stage.
“To me the biggest relief is that Kevin O’Leary didn’t want to take my idea behind the barn and shoot it,” Ali says.