Sawyer Sparks was studying agriculture economics at Purdue University when he learned that his professor’s daughter suffered from celiac disease. The digestive disorder is triggered by, among other things, wheat. For the five-year-old, that meant that she could not play with Play-Doh. All of her friends had so much fun playing with the modeling compound, but it contained wheat.
Sawyer went to work in his “laboratory” (his mom’s kitchen) and made the first patented wheat-free modeling dough: soft, colorful, deliciously scented and non-toxic. And since it is made from rice flour, it is also edible. Then the kitchen was the factory and distribution center as Sawyer, his mother and his girlfriend made Soy-Yer Dough, packaged it and shipped it. He had already sold 8,000 containers and recently received an order for 11,000 containers. Also, the huge conglomerate, Hasbro (owner of Play-Doh), was waving $500,000 at him for his patent. Sure, Sawyer wanted to make money, but he also wanted to create jobs for his community, which had one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. Hasbro was not going to manufacture Soy-Yer Dough in Indiana.
Kevin O’Leary, Robert and Daymond joined forces for a deal with Sawyer. The deal fell through. Kevin insisted on taking the manufacturing overseas, even after Sawyer had been abundantly clear that it would stay in Indiana. Kevin and Sawyer parted ways. We don’t know what happened with Robert and Daymond, but Sawyer retained 100% of his company. He had a huge boost in sales after his Shark Tank episode aired and was able to build his factory in Bloomfield, Indiana. He changed the name to Yer Dough and added soy-free modeling dough.
In May 2020, Sustainable Projects Group (SPGX) acquired 100% of Yer Dough and built another factory in Rushville, Indiana. Sawyer is CEO of YER Brands, now a wholly owned subsidiary of SPGX.