Guard Llama, a safety company that was part of the National Association of REALTORS®' REach technology accelerator program
in 2015, scored big on ABC's "Shark Tank" on Friday. The company received a $100,000 investment deal from real estate tycoon Barbara Corcoran, one of the show's celebrity hosts.
Corcoran also granted Guard Llama
cofounders Joe Parisi and Nick Nevarez the right to use her image on their product—a handheld device that connects to users' smartphones and enables them to connect to authorities with only the push of a button—in exchange for an 18 percent ownership stake in the company. Real estate professionals are one of the product's primary targets.
Guard Llama, which also sends users' GPS and profile information to dispatchers, was selected as one of eight companies in 2015 to take part in NAR's eight-month REach program, receiving expertise and mentorship on how to showcase its product to the real estate industry. The REach program is run by NAR's strategic investment arm, Second Century Ventures.
"The Guard Llama team should be proud of their accomplishment," says NAR President William E. Brown. "Pitching a product is no small task, especially in front of well-known business leaders while on national television, but the Guard Llama team did fantastic work. The vision and leadership that has taken them this far was on full display, and we hope they'll continue to enjoy great success down the road."
Parisi and Nevarez taped their pitch on the ABC show last September. They originally wanted to ask the celebrity investors for $100,000 in exchange for a 5 percent ownership stake. They have already secured $1.1 million from Chicago angel investors. The company generated $300,000 in revenue in 2016. Parisi and Nevarez told the Chicago Tribune
that their goal was to get Corcoran's attention on the show because of her strong ties to the real estate industry.
"Anytime someone recognizes the value in your product and says they want to put an investment behind it, that's a good day," says Parisi, CEO of Guard Llama. "Having a celebrity businessperson do it on a national stage like 'Shark Tank' is just extraordinary. This represented a chance to showcase what Guard Llama is doing to help make the world safer, and we're looking forward to the good work we have ahead of us."
The product could prove valuable to real estate practitioners, 39 percent of whom say they have been in situations in the field where they have feared for their safety or the safety of their personal information, according to NAR's 2016 Member Safety Report