Startup Profile – Sweat GUTR

Who hasn’t suffered from sweat pouring down into their eyes while playing ball on a hot summer day? Sure, do-rags or bandannas might work. But they just become laden with sweat. Adventure racer Erick Flatt thinks he has the answer. He invented the Sweat GUTR, a soft and lightweight plastic (yes, plastic) band that never saturates. But it’s not the kind of plastic you think. It actually funnels sweat away from your eyes and glasses.

Flatt founded Tunnel Vision, which makes the Sweat GUTR, in Dallas in 2002. He came from the management consulting world with Arthur Andersen. He did a little bit of product development in his “spare time”. But, to be fair to Andersen and himself, he had to make a career choice when his consulting practice disbanded. He resigned from the corporate world so he could focus his passion on the Sweat GUTR. His wife had contacts in the injection molding business. So he worked those contacts to develop a rudimentary prototype. After working through several iterations and coming up with a more workable prototype, he attended trade shows and conventions and discovered his product sold extremely well. Man Playing Rugby, Portrait --- Image by © Comstock/Corbis

Sweat GUTR is now available in the industrial sector, providing relief for many that must wear hard hats and other head protection in the workplace. But Flatt isn’t stopping there. He has plans to deploy it in the military arena as well. There is a plant in Frisco, TX slated to produce a version that would fit comfortably within military helmets and headgear.

As if all of this wasn’t exciting enough, Flatt filmed a segment for the hit ABC show Shark Tank, of which I am a huge fan. Last summer he submitted his product to producers of the show. They liked the idea and contacted him in August to ask for more information. Eventually, we was asked to go to California to film a segment with The Sharks in October of last year. While there for a week, he continually iterated: met with producers, practiced his pitch, refined his concept, etc. Before he knew it, he was in the Shark Tank filming.

Now, he’s contractually bound to not reveal to anyone the results of the pitch with The Sharks before it airs. His segment was scheduled to air this past April 8th. But for some reason, the producers decided at the last minute to cut his segment, at least in the US. His segment did air in Canada, however. Flatt is obviously disappointed his segment didn’t air on April 8. But he’s hopeful the producers may have a change of heart and air it later in the season.

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Brad Anderson