SEASON 9 EPISODE 19
worlds thinnest inflatable life jacket made for high performance water activities
Mike Fox and Pat Hughes
$200,000 for 12.5%
With its headquarters in Milwaukee, Hyde (Wingman’s parent company) focuses on improving life jacket utility and saving lives with the Wingman product. Hyde Co-founders, Mike Fox and Pat Hughes sought investment from the Sharks to boost and attract more patrons within the water safety niche. Wingman is the thinnest and most flexible inflation vest worldwide, and the first USCG (US Coast Guard) approved life jacket manufactured for water activities.
Wingman life jackets have an expandable bladder, that’s activated by the CO2 cartridge. When wearing it, the bladder deflates, and the CO2 cartridge becomes activated when you are in the water. It also has a hydration bladder for storing water in the vest.
How the Company Started
The Wingman idea was inspired by the 2012 triathletes drowning during Hughes’ Triathlon. Both Pat and Fox decided to create the leanest life jacket that allows surfers, fishermen, kayakers, boaters and triathletes to optimize and configure it for any activity. Pat and Mike said comfort and minimalism was their main focus when designing the Wingman. They pointed out that the present lifejackets are overly buoyant, limiting, and uncomfortable. They wanted to revolutionize the product class and offer customers an innovative alternative.
The two founders sought $200,000 for a 12.5% stake in their firm. Although most Sharks opted out of the deal, Kevin O’ Leary extended a $200,000 offer for half of the company. Mike and Pat fired back with a $200,000 offer for 25% equity, but that was not sufficient for Kevin. The duo declined Kevin’s proposal to split the firm’s ownership into half and left Shark Tank without securing investment for the Wingman.
Wingman Life Jacket After Shark Tank
After about three years of patenting and designing their product, Hughes and Fox came up with their first batch using $67,529 acquired from the 2015 Kickstarter campaign. Wingman initially sold at $249 but now sells at $199. It’s available in four colors which include tangerine, camo, black and red. The Wingman has the one-size-fits-all structure and is approved for 30-inch to 50-inch chest sizes and weighs about 90 pounds. Its CO2 cartridges are available in a kit. Every kit features a CO2 vessel as well as a green pin that indicates the charge. The Wingman also has adjustable locking clips, integrated strap unit that offers balance and mesh parts that allow water to flow uniformly
The Wingman is sold on Amazon and has multiple customer reviews. Its zipper is easily undone, and the jacket deflates and inflates independently, thanks to its sensitive ripcord that triggers CO2 inflation.Buy on Amazon Visit the Wingman Life Jacket website