Following her appearance on Shark Tank, people were immediately struck with curiosity about Katherine Krug and the incredibly simple, possibly life-changing product she brought to the table. She equally peaked the interest of the Sharks and even struck a deal with Lori Greiner! The product, known as the “BetterBack”, is a simply strappy solution to that achy backpain many people experience from sitting with bad posture. After showcasing how easy it was to use (not to mention the incredibly positive testimonials of all who used it), Katherine Krug navigated the Shark Tank waters with ease! Now, everyone is curious to know what happened with BetterBack after the show.
We got to chat with Katherine Krug, the lovely inventor behind the hugely successful product, to discuss it all. Check out our exclusive interview with her below!
Q: What originally inspired the idea behind BetterBack?
A: I was running a technology company and was glued to my computer, probably much like you (and most people) are, and working like that for 12 hours a day, and it ended up giving me this really horrendous case of sciatica that made it almost impossible for me to sit down comfortably for over a year. I was trying what felt like everything on the market (different therapies, products, doctor visits), whatever I could do to get relief, and I couldn’t find anything that was a full solution for me.
So, I ended up working with a friend who is an industrial designer, and we sort of evolved from this janky prototype I used to wear around San Francisco. Everywhere I went, it became clear that someone else was suffering from back pain, even though I had no idea. So, it was a huge surprise to find it was so ubiquitous.
Anyway, I ended up diving into the research, realizing what a big problem it was, and investing way more time and money into getting really professional industrial designers involved and doing a bunch of research testing to make BetterBack.
Q: And that’s how the product sort of came to be and evolved to what it is today?
A: Ya, actually I took the product to Kickstarter thinking I would raise $12,000 and make 500 units, and I ended up being the first woman to break the million-dollar mark on Kickstarter! The success of it was just a very wonderful surprise!
Q: So, you then took it to Shark Tank and what was the experience there like there? What happened on the show?
A: Ya, it was great! We got offers from Lori, Kevin O’Leary, and Robert. We ended up doing the handshake deal with Lori on air, but ultimately, after the show, we realized that we weren’t ready to jump into retail; at that time, it was still just me and I’d hired a virtual assistant, trying to ship all these units. I thought I was ready to really grip and rip, but I really just wasn’t yet. I really wanted to focus on direct consumer first before getting into the chaos of retail.
And so, I ended up not doing the deal with Lori, but actually, just recently, struck a different deal with Kevin O’Leary! In fact, we were just on CBC together which was a whole lot of fun, too.
Q: So, it looks like you’re getting a lot of exposure in Canada, too!
A: Ya! We just launched in Best Buy Canada, and we are in conversations with a couple of other big partners up there right now, which is really exciting!
Q: Do you guys sell internationally?
A: Actually yes, we are quite international, as well! It’s been pretty incredible—about 60% of our business is U.S. but we’ve delivered our product to over 105 countries and we’ve got a pretty big international community now, as well.
Q: Since appearing on Shark Tank, how has life changed for you personally?
A: Well, the show was just incredible. I feel like it was this huge catalyst for people reaching out and wanting to partner with us, and what’s interesting is that we’ve taken a very slow and steady building process.
We are an all-remote team and right now, the core team is all-female! We want to make sure that everything we jump into, we can do it with excellence rather than just jumping into a thousand opportunities across the board.
So, we’ve been doing extraordinarily well. This year, we just came out with our next new product line that is within the same back pain relief and posture improvement space, we actually just released production on it yesterday!
Q: That’s awesome! And what is this new product?
A: It’s called “Super Straps.” We also Kickstarted it and raised over $800,000 for this product. It’s something you can put on your backpack straps that will help you walk with great posture and it helps to relieve the neck and shoulder tension that we all get. It’s a really neat and novel product.
Q: I assume by now you must have had to expand your team quite a bit then?
A: Actually, not really! We’re still this teeny tiny business of just a handful of us. I’ve got a virtual assistant and we’ve got somebody who runs community and customer service, and then it’s just a handful of other contractors. So, we’re still super lean!
Q: Seeing the success of BetterBack and reading all the amazing feedback and testimonials, how does it feel knowing you’ve helped so many people with something they’ve probably suffered from for years?
A: Oh my gosh, it is so inspiring! Ya, it’s like a daily heart swell! Especially hearing from people who have suffered for so long and have tried so many things and are finally able to get back to focusing on the things they love in life!
The company I was working on before was called Everest, and it was all about helping people set and achieve personal goals and really help people live up to their full potential. And with BetterBack not intending to actually be a company, once it became successful I really had to check in with myself and decide if it was something I wanted to pursue more, because it wasn’t such a direct and obvious mission that I wanted to push in my life.
But at the same time, I used to be a really competitive gymnast and I’ve broken basically every part of my body and I know that when you’re in pain, it just clouds your entire life and you are so far from living your full potential, you’re just getting through your day-to-day.
So, being able to help people get over their pain and build the healthy habits so they can then focus and grow in the areas they care about is, ya, it’s just so inspiring, motivating, and I’m just so passionate about it.
Also Read: Latest Update on BetterBack Post Shark Tank
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the future? What’s next for BetterBack?
A: Well, we have officially morphed into Better Co.! So, now we are all about building products that help people feel better and be better. We are really focused on making products where people can feel instant relief but also develop these long-term habits. Right now, of course, focusing on good posture and we are just about to launch “Super Straps.”
I hope that this is another fun and amazing journey and each year we hope to launch one really innovative and novel product that can positively impact people’s lives.
Q: What’s one of the biggest things you’ve learned from launching your own business?
A: Haha, okay well there are thousands!
Q: More specifically, did you ever have moments where you thought you might quit?
A: Well, it is a constant roller coaster! Depending on the time scale, in the week or definitely in the month, you can feel like you are on top of the world, and then suddenly there’s a crash and it’s like “How are we going to make this all work?” So, there’s that roller coaster.
But I would say for me, the biggest thing I’ve learned to do in the businesses that I’ve started, is to constantly check back in with yourself and make sure that how you’re spending your days is truly in line with your values and the positive impact you want to create in your world within your own life, because how you live your days is your life.
When people start these businesses and they have these ideas of selling one day thinking, “My Tuesday will be great as soon as I hit $20.0 million in revenue” or “when I get this investor,” the truth is then that Tuesday will never arrive. You have to make sure that your day is set to maximize on your energy so that you are able to maximize on your impact and take care of yourself through the startup spread.
Q: Any advice you can give to other inventors looking to pitch their ideas on Shark Tank?
A: Yes! The first thing is absolutely do it! You might feel like you’re signing away your first-born child through the process, but absolutely do it! I think the biggest advice that I share with people who are jumping on the show is, do the work of the producers. Find a way to tell your story that is already made for TV!
Find your hero journey; what were the ways you struggled? What were the highs? What were the sacrifices you had to make to get where you are? What is your mission and how can they feel your passion? And then, with twice a much energy as you normally feel, when you get in front of the camera, share that story!