“The word ‘Manpack’ is actually a real word. In Webster’s dictionary it means: ‘able to be carried by a single individual.’ So we really consider ourselves a “carry solutions” company,” Man-PACK founder and designer Aaron Tweedie shares about the meaning behind the EDC bags’ creative name. Here’s a Shark Tank product update.
From serving in the U.S. Army National Guard to becoming a successful entrepreneur, Tweedie’s journey and emotions reflect on the brand itself because he has worked hard to turn his dream into a reality. What happened to Man-PACK after Shark Tank is an inspiring story, and we sit with the man himself to discuss the future of his company and some interesting insights into his life as a businessman.
Tweedie is not your typical “working 9 to 5″ kind of man; he wants to do bigger things and think outside of the conventional box.
He was 17 when he joined the National Guard as an infantryman, and then he pursued a career in realty and construction. He built his very first home when he was all of 19, and sold cars a year later.
“I went to college at age 23 and financed my college education through construction and real estate speculation. After college, I became a construction contractor at the worst possible time,” he explains. “When the U.S. real estate market crashed in 2008-2009, I started looking for new opportunities. I decided to do something completely different and the concept of Man-PACK was born!”
He has always had that entrepreneurial streak in him and says he doesn’t know any other way to live.
Man-PACK on Shark Tank
Tweedie went into the tank with a positive outlook, but couldn’t get an investment—not because his product was not impressive, but because of the risks that the highly competitive market held.
Tweedie might have walked away with no deal, but the brand advertisement on the show took Man-PACK to all new heights.
“The appearance on Shark Tank was a game changer for Man-PACK. We went from a struggling part-time business to an overnight sensation. The Shark Tank appearance is what allowed us to begin Man-PACK full-time and gave us brand legitimacy,” he says, thankful for the publicity and exposure.
Like many brands that make it big despite the rejection, Man-PACK has also built a niche for itself in the market.
They were selling 30 to 40 bags per month initially, but after the TV appearance, they began production at rocket speed.
“We’ve sold tens of thousands of bags online direct to consumers. The quantities go up and down by season, but we’re doing okay with good prospects for growth,” Tweedie says about the post-air date sales.
The Man-PACK bag came into existence when Aaron was handed a small sling bag by a cabinet salesman back in 2005, with some advertisement leaflets inside.
Tweedie began using the bag, and found it very useful for all his construction needs, as well as everyday carrying.
“The zipper broke and I started shopping online. I found really expensive stylish bags and overly tactical bags. But I didn’t see something stylish, durable, functional, and close to a $50.00 price point,” he tells us on the birth of his brand.
“I realized that there must be multitudes of guys just like me and if I wanted it I would have to build it. I sat on the idea for five years and in 2010, decided to exit construction and seriously pursue creating the Man-PACK brand.”
The brand prides itself on providing the “greatest value proposition” for consumers. Tweedie says his brand focuses on the principles style, durability, utility, and affordability to appeal to the average consumer. No other brand is focused on this key demographic and filling their needs, Tweedie notes.
“We sell various bags and cool gadgets to put inside those bags based on four core principles…This is where we are positioning ourselves to become a mass market brand for acquisition,” he says.
And ladies, lest you think the trendy utility bags are limited to men, Tweedie is quick to correct, “We don’t just make bags for men. We make bags for people who need to be prepared.”
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Tweedie has come a long way, but he hasn’t forgot his humble beginnings.
He recalls a memory from his first time selling the product. “I remember the very first show I attended. It was just me (all alone) a blank table and three bags propped up against a cardboard box. I sat there for two days and only sold two bags. I actually had people laugh at me, but I persisted and worked on my presentation and also the product design.”
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Man-PACK Update and Future
The durable and stylish bags are currently available online, but Tweedie hints that soon, with the help of distributors, 2019 will see the brand on platforms with a wider reach.
“Future plans for Man-PACK are to expand the product line and consumer base and firmly entrench the brand image as a “carry solutions” company. We look forward to expanding into brick-and-mortar at some point. We plan to expand into luggage, high-end business bags, and also offer new multi-functional accessories which include items for self-defense.”
We asked Aaron Tweedie to give some valuable tips to all the budding entrepreneurs out there.
“My rule of thumb is to not expect anyone to support you or agree with you if you are introducing a new or disruptive concept. Be prepared to have everyone disagree with you and go it alone,” he offered, adding, “The only thing that should make you abandon an idea is if it is unprofitable. Unprofitable ideas should be abandoned. Lastly, remember to have fun. Once you quit having fun, it’s time to bail. Life is to short to work at a job you hate.”