Safety tech inventor Doug Storer is CEO and Founder of Night Tech Gear.
Sound familiar? You may have seen Doug on ABC’s Shark Tank!
So what is Night Tech Gear (NTG)? It’s an innovative safety technology solutions company that has designed and manufactured the patented, Night Runner, Night Trek and Night Shift Shoe Lights.
Since 2015, NTG safety products have been sold in 50 countries and have been featured not only on Shark Tank, but also Forbes, Good Morning America and The Today Show.
NTG products have been named Best of Show at the 2018 Outdoor Retailer Expo; the 2018 New Safety Product of the Year Award by Occupational Health & Safety magazine; and the Best in Show Finalist at the National Safety Council (NSC) Congress.
Keep reading to see how Doug first got the idea for the company’s wildly popular and successful products, how 3 AM concrete pours of high-rise buildings helped shape his approach to safety, and what he says was most memorable about swimming with the sharks on Shark Tank.
How and when did you get the idea for what is now Night Runner (and Night Tech Gear today)?
The ideas for Night Runner came literally by accident. I was training for my fifth marathon and during a dark early morning training run a tripped on a pothole I couldn’t see and picked up an injury and a new idea. Headlight for your shoes!
We knew there was a market for these safety lights for runners, walkers and hikers. We also knew based on our 30+ years in the construction industry that we needed to develop an industrial version to keep workers safer and more productive.
How did you move from idea to actual product?
My wife and I both had design backgrounds but has never designed products. We knew we needed help.
After building and testing several prototypes from flashlights duct taped to our shoes to clay models we design specs and performance standards. We then hired a product designer who failed, then another who failed and then another who finally met our design specs and performance standards.
We learned a lot, spent a lot of money, but finally developed a successful product
You were on Shark Tank…For those that didn’t see the episode, can you share more about the experience?
Shark Tank was an intense experience. Our Night Runner product had only been on the market for 8 months before we stood before the Sharks in Season 8.
Shark Tank is this amazing platform that allowed us to take a dream and run it through the gauntlet of the cold cruel business world to see if it could survive. If you survive, having 10 million Shark Tank fans see your product and hear your story is the real prize.
After the show aired, our annual revenues quadrupled in the last quarter of the year exceeding what we asked for in the Tank. We posted more about our experience our website here.
Any lessons from such a memorable experience?
In the Tank, the Sharks were very interested in our new product for the workplace, Night Shift Shoe Lights. After appearing on Shark Tank, we had a tremendous amount of interest from a diverse array of companies with 24/7 operations including Transit, Parcel Delivery, Construction, Utility, Industrial, Public Safety, Security, Mining, Theme Parks and Military.
It took more than 18 months of product development and testing, but we finally introduced Night Shift Shoe Lights in the Fall of 2018. Night Shift mitigates many of the dangers to workers that are inherent in third shift and low-light operations. Attached to the boots or shoes, these “headlights” serve as advanced warning of trip hazards and provide visibility to other vehicles and workers.
Night Shift is already in-use by the nation’s largest department of transportation, transit authority and theme park. We even managed to pick up the 2018 Occupational Safety & Health, Best New Product award along the way!
Besides the story above, has there ever been an event, incident, or a job that changed or shaped how you look at safety?
Being part of the executive management of one of the largest commercial contractors in the country, I was keenly aware of how crucial safety was to the success of a project and the company.
Not only was it the right thing to do for the well-being of the workers, it also made financial sense by having a more efficient job site and lower cost of insurance for safer performance. Actually being a part of 3 AM concrete pours of high-rise buildings made me respect a successful safety plan and execution.
What does a “day in the life of Doug” look like for you right now?
I believe in a “Customer First” philosophy. I start every morning communicating with customers. Sometimes its’ a product or delivery issue and sometimes it is filling orders and making sales calls. The afternoons are for meetings and making sure product shipments are moving and orders are being fulfilled.
What’s your superpower?
Optimism. Plain and simple. I always start with the premise, “Why can’t we do it?” You always have to believe in yourself, even when others may not agree.
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