Orlando-based husband and wife inventors, and long-time fans of Shark Tank, Doug and Renata Storer pitch their product Night Runner 270 on Episode 3, Season 8. The inspiration came to Doug while he was training for the New York Marathon. While on a nighttime run, he tripped on a pothole in the dark. His injuries kept him from being able to participate in the marathon but set him on his entrepreneurial journey.
Doug told Reneta he needed headlights for his shoes, so she told him to go buy some. After discovering that the product didn’t exist, Doug decided he would make his own and began experimenting to see what he could rig up. His first version of shoe headlights was nothing more than flashlights duct taped to his running shoes. It was crude but functional. This simple prototype was redesigned, and redesigned again, into a consumer ready product. After sharing his creation with other runners he knew there was an opportunity to build a business and make some money, while helping to keep people fit and safe.
What are Night Runners?
Night Runners are unobtrusive, featherweight, LED lights that clip securely onto your shoelaces. They work on any athletic shoe and can be positioned anywhere along the laces from the tongue to the toes. Night Runners weigh just 1.5 oz each (about the weight of a slice of bread) and produce 150 lumens of light. They illuminate about 30 feet of ground ahead of your shoes, and the curved shape provides a wide 270 degrees of visibility, so you can see what’s in front and beside you.
Night Runner 270 is water resistant so you can use them in the rain, and they’re rugged enough to take the abuse of rough terrain. They’re powered by a USB rechargeable battery that can light the way for more than 4 hours.
Night Runners are not just designed to help runners, bikers, and walkers see at night, but they also to be easily seen by motorists. The bright light creates a unique motion that grabs the attention of drivers, so that there is no question there is a person there. Night Runners also have rear facing red lights that alert motorists who are behind you.
Before Shark Tank
Night Runner 270 was successfully gaining traction before appearing on Shark Tank. Doug and Renata had already sold over 8,000 units and a generated a lot of good press. They took Night Runners to a conference and trade show called The Running Event with 4 of their early prototypes. The response was overwhelming positive and 38 retailers expressed interested in carrying the product after it was manufactured.
Night Runner 270 completed a successful Kickstarter campaign in early 2015, raising $43,000 from over 500 backers in 28 countries. Doug and Renata also pitched the product on the TV show The Startup Hour, which allows viewers who are registered and accredited investors to invest money in startups from their homes.
Night Runner 270 hit the market in October 2015 with an international launch at the NYC Marathon. Since then it was featured in the Top 8 Mother’s Day Gifts for 2016 by Fox News, pointing out that it’s great for busy mom’s who need to exercise after the kids go to bed. Night Runner 270 also appeared on CBS’s Innovation Nation.
Doug and Renata’s long term goal is to develop a line of fitness and safety gadgets, including bluetooth enabled devices.
Customer reviews on Amazon are very positive, with 75% of users giving a five star ratings. People use them for everything from cycling to walking the dog. Some customers note that they work even better if you allow your eyes to adjust to the dark before turning them on. Visibility is reduced if running over very rocky or uneven ground, since the path of the lights may be obstructed from time to time.