Oklahoma City natives Levi Wilson and Tim Todd are no strangers to tornadoes and the issues faced by many people regarding storm protection. Living in United States’ famed tornado alley, the duo knows all about underground and above-ground storm shelters and their associated problems. Underground storm shelters have leakages; many come with spiders as unwanted guests. Above-ground storm shelters come with a significant issue of space. Many people do not have enough room for a storm shelter.
Wilson and Todd identified this space in the market and brought forward storm shelters that can be installed in houses without taking up any extra space. They introduced a technology where your bed can be raised to become a storm shelter to take refuge in if a tornado directly hits you; it is powered by batteries in case of a power outage and can hold up to six people.
The shelter’s structure can fit any bed. Therefore, these shelters take up no extra space in the house. The Life Lift System shelters are handy for areas that get struck by severe storms. The rigorous testing of the product means that customers can rest assured of safety in an emergency.
The company was called Life Lift Systems initially and then changed its name to Vortex Vaults. The business is since thriving and has massively expanded its distributor network. The company now offers a range of storm protection products such as safes, safety kits, and pool tables, to name a few. Increasing extreme weather events means this business will be booming in the future.
How Did The Shark Tank Pitch Go?
Wilson and Todd walked in confidently to deliver their Shark Tank pitch. They informed the Sharks about their Oklahoma roots and everyday experience with tornadoes. Their anecdotes helped establish the need for their product in the market and convinced the Sharks of its potential. The entrepreneur duo asked for $550,000 for 15% equity in their company.
The partners introduced their flagship product to the Sharks, a bed that can be raised to become a shelter in a minute. The theatrics of the bed rising to reveal a storm shelter was appreciated by the Shark as they were impressed by the system. The Sharks were then invited to sit in the storm shelter, which led to a couple of amusing moments as they managed to fit in above average-sized Charles Barkley in the shelter. The Sharks were impressed by the space in the shelter and the air circulation inside.
The Sharks then asked questions about the financial feasibility of the business. The duo revealed they had made around $500,000 in sales in the last three months. They were currently working on expanding their network of dealers and installers.
There was an overall concern from the Sharks about the product not bringing in enough net profit considering the amount of time and workforce that went into installing the product. The duo emphasized that they were working on outsourcing their operations and were willing to revisit their price points. Throughout their discussions with the Sharks, the business partners were highly confident in their product and its potential.
Robert Herjavec pulled out of making an offer due to his lack of expertise in the business. Kevin O’Leary also backed out due to concerns about the business model. Charles Barkley thought that the profit margins were insufficient to invest in the industry, so he declined to make an offer.
Mark Cuban was visibly impressed by the business and offered $550,000 for 25% of the company. Cuban assures them that he would finance the purchase orders and be hands-on in all the operations to ensure the best for the business.
Lori Greiner was also interested and presented an offer identical to Cuban’s. The duo had to choose between Greiner and Cuban as their investor. There was a back and forth as Greiner and Cuban tried to convince the business partners to accept their offer.
Upon asking, Wilson and Todd further deliberated their decision after asking if there was an arrangement possible with royalty and whether the equity size could be adjusted. The business partners ended up choosing Mark Cuban due to his presence in the Southern areas of the United States.
Our Review of Life Lift Systems
Life Lift Systems, now called Vortex Vaults, is a valuable product worth the investment as it is essentially life-saving. The products have many advantages and also a few issues that need to be resolved.
Pros of Life Lift Systems
- Tested to withstand an E5 tornado and 250 mph winds
- Backed up by batteries in case of a power outage
- Shelter can be raised through an AC outlet if the batteries also run out
- No need for additional space for installation
- Wheelchair accessible
- USB charging ports in the shelter
- Adequate ventilation
- Product is bolted to the foundation of the house, so it’s safe even if the house takes a direct hit from a tornado
- Can also be used in case of a home invasion
Cons of Life Lift Systems
- The price range can restrict people from buying the product
- No accommodation for pets who get nervous during storms
Who Is It For?
Life Lift Systems/ Vortex Vaults can be installed in any home due to their safety in emergencies. The marketing for the product, however, is exclusively targeted toward people who live in areas regularly affected by tornadoes. These shelters are helpful for refuge from violent tornadoes, which are usually geographically restricted in the United States.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Many companies provide safe rooms and installation, but the idea of it being built in a household item is exclusive to Vortex Vaults. It is a truly unique product on the market.
Life Lift Systems/Vortex Vaults captures the true spirit of entrepreneurship as it provides a product that significantly improves the quality of life poof its users. The increase in extreme weather events also means that this product will only see an expansion in its market.