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March 2015

Realtor invention leads to appearance on Shark Tank

Plus $110,000 from investor

By NWREporter

March 2015

Drain StopperSuccessful Realtors, by nature, seem to be problem solvers and entrepreneurial. One Redmond Realtor recently landed an appearance on ABC's Shark Tank and left with $110,000 from an investor.

Naushad Ali, a full time Realtor and licensed loan officer since 2003, invented the Drain Strain, a never-clog drain stopper he created to prevent hair, jewelry and other foreign objects from clogging bathroom sinks.

The revolutionary idea came to Ali after a plumber was summoned to the home to clean out a sink's P-trap where hair had lodged. Both his wife and daughter have long hair, so he knew the chance of repeat clog and another $150 plumber bill was a possibility. Although he describes himself as "plumbing impaired," he knew there had to be a more affordable solution, and one that would not involve harmful chemicals down the drain.

After conceiving the product and initial design in 2012, Ali hired a design company in Chicago to help develop the concept. That fine-tuning process took about nine months.

Fast forward to 2014 when Ali launched a crowd funding campaign, hoping to raise $25,000. Only a fraction of his goal was raised, so he explored other avenues. The longtime "Shark Tank" fan applied to be on the show via its website, but to no avail, so he put the idea on the back burner to focus on his real estate business. (He has been recognized by Seattle Magazine as a five star agent for service and results.)

Two days before Shark Tank was scheduled to be in Seattle for local auditions, Ali learned of that 90-second opportunity during a phone conversation with his business partner from John L. Scott's Redmond office. He made the cut, leading to the Shark Tank appearance before the wealthy tycoons.

His appearance impressed technology innovator and businessman Robert Herjavec, who offered $110,000 in exchange for 10 percent of the company ownership.

The Drain Strain will be sold online as well as at retail outlets, including Home Depot and Lowe's. The initial product is designed for lever actuated drain stoppers and tested to fit in more than 90 percent of household drains. A bathtub version is in development, but there are no plans to create a design for kitchen sinks since most people have garbage disposals.