‘Shark Tank’ survivor says he’s stronger

LIHUE — John D. Smith stood in front of five investors, or sharks, and introduced his product called “Storm Stoppers” on the hit ABC series, “Shark Tank” on Nov. 14, 2014.

While he didn’t gain an investor, his segment aired first on the show’s landmark 100th episode, an experience that had gone a long way for the entrepreneur who never envisioned his invention becoming a business.

“Shark Tank was a great experience,” Smith said Friday during a business trip to Kauai. “All the sharks praised Storm Stoppers. These were five strangers that knew me less than an hour and knew my product for less than hour. But they all praised the product.”

Storm Stoppers, an invention that is an alternative to plywood during hurricane protection, is made of translucent impact-rated corrugated plastic with an industrial strength fastener.

He called it an innovative product that saves the customer time and energy from drilling in holes into their home to put up pieces of plywood over windows. It’s an invention that Smith has made a comfortable living off of, especially after his appearance on Shark Tank.

He’s been in business 12 years with more than $5.5 million in sales to more than 5,500 customers.

“What people usually want to hear is, ‘how has appearing on Shark Tank resulted in business?’ And I think I speak for the majority of entrepreneurs that it’s helped, but there’s no overnight cure,” Smith told The Garden Island. “The odds of going on Shark Tank and becoming a billionaire, it’s so elusive.”

Based in Florida and hoping to acquire distribution in Hawaii, Smith got a phone call from a couple in Kapaa and another couple in Lihue after seeing the product on Shark Tank.

“This trip was about two customers,” Smith said. “They heard about us on Shark Tank and I told them that if you buy my product, I’ll fly over and install this for you.”

Smith, just like the way he demonstrated during his appearance on television, demonstrated how to install Storm Stoppers to homeowners Colleen Toyama and Leonard Edayan of Lihue. From cutting the plastic, adding the adhesive and eventually placing the thin plastic cover over the window, Smith spent over two hours with Toyama and Edayan to ensure their satisfaction.

“I believe that the way you build a great brand is one customer at a time,” Smith said. “We have four customers on Kauai and the hope is that I show up and do this as many times as it takes to be successful. Work hard, connect with customers, that’s what it’s all about.”

Smith has been in Hawaii for two weeks traveling around Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island doing the installations. His business, which he is the president, CEO and owner of, is doing well.

“Shark Tank opened some doors, it may have opened more doors if we would’ve gotten an offer, but again, it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you look at it.”

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