Roslyn entrepreneur Howie Busch is taking a dive into ABC’s “Shark Tank,” the reality show in which inventors pitch their ideas to celebrity business tycoons in hopes of attaining an investment.
But whether the investors on the show, set to air Sunday, take the bait or not, Busch said he’s sure his product, the DudeRobe, a hooded robe for men, will do more than just tread water.
“It’s already surpassed so many expectations,” said Busch, who said the product, made of sweatshirt material lined with towel material, was born out of “the jealousy” he felt when he saw his wife jump out of the shower and into a comfy, “but very feminine” robe.
“There was nothing as comfortable, but still manly, for me to wear,” he said.
Campaigns for the DudeRobe on online crowdfunding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo exceeded Busch’s $25,000 goal, raising about $78,000. He said he invested an additional $25,000 of his own money toward accounting and marketing costs.
The DudeRobe, available in navy and gray, is manufactured in China and retails for $95 on the company website. An over-the-head hoodie, pants and shorts in the same fabric sell for $65 to $85.
Customization, such as monogramming or embroidered names, is available for large orders.
The first 500 DudeRobe orders were shipped between Christmas and New Year’s Day, said Busch, adding that he’s “gotten such great feedback from clients on Facebook, Twitter and through emails.”
He said he’s had experience with product development and licensing in the past, but this is the first time he’s seen his own product through from start to finish.
Claudia Cafarelli, an adjunct marketing professor at Hofstra University’s business school who also does apparel design consulting for several menswear fashion companies, said garments like the DudeRobe are tapping into an industry with huge potential.
“Right now, menswear is where it’s at,” she said.
“The excitement is there because it’s completely changing. Men are now encouraged to express themselves through fashion and are taking greater interest in their personal style. And for hoodies, there’s a broad appeal within the loungewear segment, especially.”
By 2020, the growth of menswear in the United States is expected to outpace the growth of womenswear, according to a 2014 analysis by London-based market research firm Euromonitor International.
Cafarelli said she doesn’t view Busch’s DudeRobe in the same category as fashion fad products like the Snuggie or the RompHim, a romper for men.
“It’s more in line with athleisure and utilitarian fashion,” she said.
Officials at “Shark Tank” did not respond to requests for comment.