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9 'Slap-Your-Face' Lessons You Need to Learn from this Shark Tank Success Story

MJ DeMarco

I followed the science; all I found was money.
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Jul 23, 2007
9 "Slap-Your-Face" Lessons You Need to Learn from this Shark Tank Success Story...


On April 4th 2014, our very own Fastlaner @Likwid24 made an appearance on Shark Tank and wowed the panel of Sharks with his Paint Brush Cover (PBC) invention. His company received multiple offers to the point the Sharks were fighting over themselves to get a deal. In the end, the PBC team accepted a great offer by Lori Grenier.

In the coming months, you should expect to see The Paint Brush cover in most hardware stores. Not just here in America, but worldwide.

I have no doubt that this incredible story of entrepreneurial execution will also become a millionaire success story, probably sooner than later.

If you weren't aware, this amazing story of inventiveness started here at Fastlane way back on April 16th, 2011. It was then when Sal posted his idea and his vision on the INSIDER portion of our forum. Over the years, we have been fortunate enough to enjoy a front-row seat to his incredibly journey. After 3 years and some 32 pages of updates, there are some wonderful lessons we all can learn from @Likwid24 's process and the PBC's unfolding success story...

I've posted them here.

#1: Everything Starts With A Need - Not with "How Do I Make Money?"

The new user registration form here at Fastlane asks this question: "What is your reason for joining Fastlane?" Outside of a great spam prevention tool, the question also serves to gauge the mindset of the entrepreneurs who are joining the forum. Unfortunately, the most common answer always includes one word: Money.

Make money.
Make $X in X years.
Money. Money. Money.
Wanna get rich.
Want to be a millionaire.

I am saddened every time I approve one of these registrations. While these aspiring entrepreneurs are welcome here, their motives won't serve them to succeed. They have it all wrong.

Dead wrong.

And I know, 98 times out of 100, they will NOT make money and they will fail at entrepreneurship.

Which brings us to the Paint Brush Cover...

Sals' first post, which introduced us to his yet-to-be-invented product didn't mention anything about money. Sal wasn't trolling the forum asking "How do I make money??" or "How do I make $X,000 a week?" Nope. The PBC was born from a true Fastlane foundation:


Here is the exact text of Sals' monstrous thread located on the INSIDE.

My plan is to start with one of my ideas that is the most affordable to make and also my first idea. I'm not just picking it because it is cheap but also because it is the one I am most passionate about. It is something the is needed in my current profession but still isn't available after all these years. I always wondered why this product isn't out yet and always wished it was. My workers and other people in my industry often question this too. It is something that I believe everyone in my industry would want and it wouldn't be a life or death decision for them to buy it since it is very inexpensive.

The lesson?

Entrepreneurial success is always rooted in problem solving. Efficiency. Making things easier and/or better. Success doesn't come from adopting the universal "wantrepreneur failure creed" which sounds a little like this: "Gee, how do I make money?"

#2: Needs Are Uncovered by Engagement - Not By Sitting on Your a$$.


Sal uncovered this need because of one thing: He engaged the marketplace by becoming a part-time painter. Just imagine if instead, he sat on his butt and relented "Painting houses is NOT Fastlane!!" -- the opportunity would have never been exposed.

The lesson?

Needs and problems are exposed with engagement, engagement of life and business, regardless of "Fastlane" strategy. When you engage life (and business that just might not be "textbook" Fastlane) that's OK because you are engaging the market. The market exposes opportunities and if you have your eyes open and your ears peeled, you will see them.

I ran a limo company for years and I saw a ton of problems. In fact, I still see them today.

I started a publishing company and guess what? Same thing. I see tons of problems that can be solved, and solved for money.

I run a forum. Again, I see problems and potential.

In fact, the more you GTFO of your house, engage life, and business, the more you see. And that includes the dreaded job which you think is Slowlane! That lowly job just might have an escape right before your eyes, except you're too money-blind to see it.

If you're one of these guys sitting around saying "How do I spot needs? Where do I find an idea?"

What you're really saying is "I'm not engaging life." In other words, life is engaging you.

Problems don't step in front of the TV while you're watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

Hey bro... engage.

#3: Needs Can Be Solved Inexpensively, But Not Necessarily Easily.

If you also notice in Sals' intro post, he chose the PBC concept because it would be relatively inexpensive to pursue. Over the course of 3 years of startup and prototyping (mentioned on a ForeverJobless podcast) he spent about $10,000.

Now, if you're sitting there and thinking "Woah, that's way too much money for me!" hit yourself with some freaking perspective. That's $3,000 per year, or $250/mo. If you can't allocate $250/mo for your dream, please, keep your job and keep drinking $10 Martinis' down at the club.

Sals' $10K investment will likely morph into a low-to-mid 8 figure business or more. If you need that spelled out for you, $35 million dollars can change a lot of lives. Throw that math into the Slowlane blender and you'd have to live about 410 years, and no, that's not in dog years, but in 401(k) years.

While Sals' invention was relatively simple, it wasn't necessarily simple to produce. He had to learn the whole way and with each step. He didn't fret about something that was 10 or 15 steps away. One by one, one step in front of the other, he built his asset one day at a time, which turned into a week, a month, and then years.

When was the last time you committed years to something?

If the answer is "NEVER", you might have the answer to your lack of progress.

The lesson?

You don't need to invent the next iPhone or the next Keurig instant coffee maker to make an impact. The PCB is a simple piece of airtight plastic. Each unit costs less than a buck to make and enjoys incredible margins per each unit sold. Start with a solution. Focus on solving it. From there out, the solution will guide your way.

#4: Not Everyone Likes Coffee


After Sal completed the prototype stage of his invention, I was proud of what he accomplished. I shared his invention on Facebook as did he. Unfortunately not all the comments were positive.

"This is stupid."

"Why would anyone need this? I just use saran wrap"

"Just put em in the freezer."


The lesson?

Something we all need to hear: Not everyone loves coffee. Or for the tech inspired, not everyone loves Apple. People will be critical of your work, no matter how good it is. Aspiring author? Listen up. You can be the best damn author in the world and people will still give you that 1 star at Amazon. You can't avoid the haters, the naysayers, and the do-nothings. They simply are apart of life as air is to breathing. Ignore them, unless they form a unilateral consensus. And if that's the case, you don't have an social media problem, you have a product problem.

#5: The Grass Isn't Greener...

The Paint Brush Cover thread is over 3 years old and 32 pages long. You know what you don't see in those 30+ pages? You don't see Sal going after the next shiny object, or what I call, the "grass is greener" syndrome. You don't see Sal talking about joining some affiliate program for some herbal supplement. You don't see Sal talking about learning how to code so he can make some Flappy Bird ripoff. You don't see Sal doing anything but what the goal demands: His dream of solving this problem and his job as a firefighter.

The "grass is greener" syndrome is the residual effect of an entrepreneur failing to focus. They work on one thing for a week or two, see little results, and then move on to the next thing. Its equivalent to taking 2 or 3 strikes at a pinata and walking away to hit the next one. In the end, none of them break. The sweet goodness inside goes untapped until a real entrepreneur comes along and smacks it open with 50 hits.

Surf the web and you'll see a lot of wannabe entrepreneurs and bloggers advocating multiple projects and multiple focuses. Let me tell you... most, if not all of them, are wrong. (And probably broke too).

If your goal is anything but greatness, DO NOT divert your attention into anything but your core purpose and your core objective.

Not buying it?

Examine any top athlete or performer, do you think you'll see a multi-tiered effort? Has Derek Jeter played professional table tennis for the last 10 years as well as baseball? Speaking of baseball, how did Michael Jordan's baseball career go? Is Tiger Woods also a world class swimmer?

You see, when you examine greatness in any endeavor, you don't see balance. You don't see moderation. You don't see diversion of time. You only see obsession and focus. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either delusional or cherry picking an aftereffect of obsession.

"Oh but Marc Cuban has multiple businesses!"

Oh really? Do you seriously think he STARTED that way? You see when you have billions at your disposal, you don't need to focus anymore because you can have other people do it for you. Billionaire success stories may not END with focus, but they get their START there.

The lesson?

Be single-minded of purpose until you have a "GO", an "ADJUST" or a "STOP". In startup circles, I believe they call this "fail faster" until you get a GO.

#6 Those Who Give-Up in The Desert Go Thirsty

I believe the toughest part of entrepreneurship is getting started and surviving the Desert of Desertion. The Desert of Desertion is that period of time where creation happens, but simultaneously suffers from a non-existent feedback loop, namely in the form of sales or customer response. It's that long, lonely timeframe from idea, to concept, to first sale.

It is during this time period where most entrepreneurs give up and go where they think the grass is greener. That first sale never happens because they're onto the next shiny object, and the perceived easier path. The failure in this thinking is not realizing that the difficulty is the opportunity, the opportunity where other weak entrepreneurs will exit the process.

A week after Sal posted his vision, he posted this:

"Should I continue this thread? Is anyone following?"

Aside from a few "good lucks" the feedback at that point wasn't spectacular. In fact, there was none. No one had much to say which I'm sure planted a seed of doubt in Sal's mind.

Still, he moved forward.

Nearly a year later, Sal made another post, just a few short weeks before his prototype was completed.

Do you think I should still keep going???

At this point, nearly just weeks from having a finished prototype, Sal noticed a potential competitor, one with big hardware store connections and big pockets. Confidence was shaken. Fear. Doubt. The "grass is greener" fairy was hovering with the wand of temptation, promising an easier path.

And yet, Sal persevered and kept going.


For the aspiring entrepreneur the lesson here is twofold: First, gird your expectations for difficulty over ease. The walk through the desert is fraught with challenges. You'll hear negative comments. Family or friends might not support you. You won't have sales to validate your days. You won't have anything positive to move forward on. To survive, you'll have to recall that same fire that got you started in the first place. Or, post a progress thread here at the forum where others can ask questions and hold you accountable.

Second, finish what you start and commit to one sale, or commit to a large enough sample to determine the adjust or stop point. In other words, your idea doesn't fail or succeed simply because you think it does -- the market will tell you -- but only if you get it out there and put it in front of enough people.

Give you dream a chance. Quit in the desert, and you will go thirsty.

#7: You Don't Need to Own a Tech Company to Make a Fortune

Technology entrepreneurs make headlines. WhatsApp. InstaGram. [Insert any billion dollar technology success story here.] That overexposure influences many young entrepreneurs to pigeon-hole their opportunity lenses. I must start a web company! An app gaming company! Their focus isn't on a solution, but the glamor, the headlines, and the excitement that comes from being apart of the blitz.

For example, if you read The Millionaire Fastlane and your main takeaway was "start an internet company!" you have a comprehension issue. Read the book again. Sure, technology is a great industry to be in, but there are billions and trillions of dollars waiting to get in your pocket that have nothing to do with technology.

Everyday I see opportunity in tangible goods. When I moved into a new home, I spotted an opportunity. When I walk the grocery aisles and don't see what I want to buy, I see an opportunity. When I look for classy entertainment on a Saturday evening and don't find it, I see an opportunity. Opps are everywhere and it need not be digital or technology based.


Opportunity doesn't default to the internet. And because it doesn't, you shouldn't either. Sure, properties of SCALE are more difficult offline than it is ONLINE, but the same applies in reverse for ENTRY. While all the young-bucks are salivating in the overcrowded tech field, the entrepreneurial landscape offline remains not as competitive. Sal's still a young guy and I'm happy he didn't fall for the bright lights and headlines, and instead, took a path oft ignored by entrepreneurs.

Inventing is a great place to be. And so is the tangible real world.

#8: Overnight Success Can Take 3 Years

As mentioned throughout this article, Sal's progress thread is over 3 years old and 30+ pages. And yet, to the millions of people watching the Shark Tank episode, it looks like overnight success. To the lay person and the wannabe entrepreneur, you need to understand that "overnight success" is always paved with a difficult "backstory". On this forum, we call that backstory, "process." In other words, the television is gifting you the event, or the residual result of process.

While seasoned entrepreneurs understand the existence of process, the unseasoned will not. To the green, Sals' walk through the desert won't be recognized. It's ignored. Others will default to thinking that the journey was leisurely stroll through a park or a ride in a limousine.


Overnight success is a destination that will require a backstory that can take years to navigate. If your backstory only has 2 or 3 steps, I can guarantee you this: There will be no event. Skip process and you skip the event.

#9: Without Scale and Time Detachment, Wealth Will Elude You.

The true beauty of the PBC is how it fits perfectly into a Fastlane strategy, specifically the SCALE and TIME factors. These little inventions of genius can be mass produced. Mass distributed. And now with the added power of Lori Grenier and her QVC armada, mass marketed. And with huge production possibilities back-boned by big distribution worldwide, you get a true detachment to time.

This product will be in stores around the globe. And while they sit on shelves beckoning customers to buy 24 hours 7 days a week, Sal can be doing anything. Working at the fire department. Traveling to Iceland, Jamaica, or Rome. Sal is officially detached from the brutal "time for money" equation. While I'm not suggesting he doesn't have to work, or that the ride will be easy, I'm suggesting that a whole new world of wealth generation just cracked open for Sal.

And that's the Fastlane Wealth equation described in the book, TMF.

Wealth = Asset Value + Net Income.

Sal can officially kiss goodbye the Slowlane and it's deficient equation.

Wealth = Intrinsic Value (time trade) + Stock Market Investments (more time trade)​


If you want to build wealth, attach yourself to a different equation of wealth generation, one that has TIME removed. You do that through innovation and creation, systems and/or products that survive in time, separate from your time. Do that and you have a fighting chance to not only change your life, but the generations that may follow.

Good luck and happy inventing!


MJ DeMarco

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Sep 23, 2013
By nature, I am a writer. I have the mind of a writer. I remember wanting to be a writer as far back as the 3rd grade. Growing up, I watched a guy go from a struggling writer to one of the most successful fiction writers in history, so I even had evidence that it was possible. BECOMING a writer has been a totally different challenge. Many times I have deserted my work to chase whatever I thought would put money in my pocket. I've started blogs, a social network (the only venture that solved a problem, though I was in it for the wrong reasons), tried consulting, wrote 2 non-fiction ebooks I couldn't sell, sold furniture out of a storage unit. I started writing a book 6 years ago. 2014, and it is still not finished. Why? Because I kept chasing money. I cared about my problems, and didn't give a shit about anyone else's. Now, we see all of these writers making lots of money, some tens of thousands of dollars per month. The reason? They are focused on writing (process). They are finishers (process). They put their books out there, and people buy them and love them (Event. Filling the need for escape and entertainment). Successful writers are FINISHERS. They start a book, and they finish it. Once they finish it, they do the same thing again, and each time they refine their process and get better, and do it faster.

It's not enough to think you're a writer, or entrepreneur. It's not enough to want something. It's not enough to start something. You have to FINISH. FINISHERS are the only ones who have a shot at winning the race. I'm 31 and I've spent the last 6 years learning that the HARD WAY. The good news is that this book will get finished this year and be on Kindle for sale. Then, I will repeat the process, except it won't take me nearly as long to finish the second one.


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I really like the "Not everyone likes coffee" section. I took a trip down to Austin not too long ago to audition for shark tank. I never did get a call back, but while I was there I saw some really great things from the few people I talked too. One that stood out was the bumper dumper. It was a toilet seat that goes into your truck hitch so you can use the bathroom out in the woods or wherever. People would say "wow that guy is an idiot" but in reality he is making sales and, at the end of the day those sales show that he is not an idiot. When I didn't get a call back from shark tank though it was pretty defeating but, im not going to let one judge who doesnt like coffee hold me back. Ive also quit my job and spent my entire life savings so quitting early isnt really an option lol


The coaching was a joke guys.
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Oct 22, 2013


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Mar 13, 2014
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This is a amazing success story!
Most people would've given up during the journey, but Sal was able to get this PBC business rolling and get a deal from Lori!
Congratulations to Sal!
Thanks for writing a great article MJ!
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Mar 26, 2011
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Great write up @MJ DeMarco ! Thanks for writing this and using my story as the example. Glad I can be a help and inspiration to the forum! :D

I will continue to update my progress thread as soon as things quiet down a little. It's been VERY busy!


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I don't think you will ever know how much of an inspiration you really are :)
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Jul 28, 2013
your idea doesn't fail or succeed simply because you think it does -- the market will tell you

That right there. :eek:

Years ago, I was SAYING my stuff was a fail, and the market was like "come on!!! we need you!!!", even to the extent people would organise ways to ask me to do it. But there I was "no its no good".

So my understanding now is,
The market needs to say yes, and you need to break free of always saying no.
I said no, because it was a challenge.

You go thirsty because of those choices.


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Jul 18, 2012
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Damn... you write a lot of good posts, @MJ DeMarco but this is one of the best in a while.
#4 is definitely so true. Yes... there are sadly critics for anything and everything. And the ironic thing, like you touched upon, is that these same people are more often than not jealeous misfits who are too lazy to get out of their own sidewalker/slowlane comfort zone and do something with their own lives.

+$rep'ing this mofo and sharing it..


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Mar 14, 2013
So much value added thank you MJ. Always gives me a boost to see a post like this from you. I just made the Batman Comic my desktop image. It will be a great reminder.
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Awesome post MJ! I would like to also note that Mr.Wonderful's expression was pretty priceless @7:08. He may have been thinking, but still funny after said question. Congrats @Likwid24! Was waiting for this to air and it was good to see a fellow fastlaner on the Tank moving forward with even more success.

S. Brown

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Great post MJ. #1: "No motives = no results"..... "If your dreams are not bigger than yourself, then you are not dreaming big enough."

Mike Kavanagh

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I am saddened every time I approve one of this registrations. While these aspiring entrepreneurs are welcome here, their motives won't serve them to succeed. They have it all wrong.
This I can equate to "I was blind but now I can see."

I was probably like that when I first started. Being active here is what changed my views on business.
I use to think there was always some magic solution to all of my problems. Allergies, money, women, etc... Some on/off switch I could flip and everything would be o.k.

Man, was I wrong. Wasted a lot of money too.

I don't remember exactly what I typed into that box. It was probably something cheesy like "I want to be a business man"


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Sep 26, 2013
GRET POST MJ !!! .....strange though, The Paint Brush concept has been available in retail for many years in Germany...


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Aug 7, 2012
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Watching Sal on Shark Tank was awesome. Really tied together a lot of ideas for me. Like the value of this forum!

This post is great, great for me and I can easily share it with my friends to explain a lot of concepts.

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Dec 6, 2012
Love the write up. Good reminders. Going to go up my thread now :p


Really glad I signed in today and checked to see this article. Have really been going through a period where I realized I've been chasing too many "rabbit holes" and have gotten nowhere. It's about finding that need and giving everything you've got into solving it. Thanks for being Batman and giving Robin (others who have been doing that and I) that slap in the face!


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For me the aspect of not giving up and being persistent hits home.

I'm sure this guy had no idea what he was doing. Nobody told him how to create his idea, how to market it, how to start getting sales, how to apply for patents, how to build a website. how to deal with coakaroach reselllers that undercut you in the market.

But what he did know is too not give up and most likely ask a lot of good questions.
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