I enjoy watching ABC’s “Shark Tank” as often as I get the chance. If you’ve seen it, then you’ve watched Kevin Harrington, one of the “sharks”, in action. Harrington is an enormously successful entrepreneur, widely acknowledged as the pioneer of the infomercial industry. He produced the industry’s first infomercial ever in the 1980s. Since doing so, he’s pursued a variety of diverse business projects in the television product marketing industry. He’s currently the CEO of TVGoods.com, whose popular products include Tony Little fitness and George Foreman cleaning, for example. I was fortunate to be able to interview Harrington about his new book, his worst failures and his words of advice.
Has he enjoyed “Shark Tank”?
“It’s been a phenomenal experience. I’ve learned even more about brokering deals in the heat of the moment with other sharks. You think you know what you’re doing, but there’s always more to learn. So it’s been informative and fun,” he explained.
Harrington’s been in the business for 25 years, turning product ideas into multi-million dollar businesses.
“We’ve really been in every single category. Golf, fishing, beauty, hardware. After getting involved in infomercials in the 1980s, I’ve never left. I love the power of television. The book I recently wrote, Act Now: How to Turn Ideas into Multi-Million Dollar Products chronicles my experiences with some of the most popular products I’ve created, like Tony Little fitness.”
The book is largely inspirational, encouraging entrepreneurs not to give up – a motto Harrington firmly believes in.
But Harrington’s story isn’t one of only success.
“I like to describe my past as the ‘rise, fall, and rise’ of Kevin Harrington,” he said with a laugh. “I can describe my failures as easily as my successes. Because the infomercial industry was so successful in the United States, I believed it could be as popular across the globe. I began opening offices across the continents. We barreled into Europe, producing infomercials in 16 languages, advertising them in 16 countries. I assumed that we’d eventually make the money that would support such growth. We didn’t,” said Harrington.
If he could change one thing about some of his business choices, it’d be his initial reluctance to work with partners.
“I always tried to do things myself. If I put in 100% of the effort, I figured, I’d also reap 100% of the profits. But I now realize if I’d relied on relationships and entered into more partnerships, I would have avoided so many headaches. Having half of many many pies is better than having a few whole ones. Especially when you factor in financing. I finally realized that earning half the profit of a project I didn’t have to finance was a much better deal than trying to do everything myself! Those halves multiply quickly.”
Harrington admitted it’s often difficult for inventors to get a fair shake. Sadly, untrustworthy people take advantage of unsavvy businessmen. So please, read all the clauses and the fine print.