Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Robbie Cabral, CEO and Founder of Benjilock, Kevin O'Leary, and their new partner Kim Kelley, CEO of Hampton Locks.
If you missed their episode of Shark Tank, then let me fill you in (because this sort of deal has never been done before on the show).
Robbie Cabral, an immigrant entrepreneur from the Dominican Republic, created a padlock that can be opened with a fingerprint, called Benjilock. And while Cabral's emotional story had everyone at the verge of tears--including O'Leary--it was his patented invention that had the Sharks competing for a stake in the game-changing technology.
Most of all, he came prepared.
When I asked Kevin O'Leary what drew him to the product, he explained how remarkable and different Cabral's situation and invention was compared to anything else that has happened in the last nine years of Shark Tank.
"Robbie's idea had just been patented, and also been awarded one week earlier the product innovation award at CES, which is really tough to get because you're competing globally," O'Leary explained.
What really touched the Sharks, and everyone who's encountered Cabral on his journey was his story as an immigrant entrepreneur in America. But it was the young entrepreneur's preparation and dedication that spoke volumes about the product's potential.
Robbie used his failures and struggles as a stepping stone to his success.
"As an immigrant, the role has been tough," Cabral shared. "The whole dream of trying to be a musician didn't really pan out, and trying to get interviews in the job-hunting space was difficult because everywhere I turned I heard, 'No, no, N-O,' always, all the time. But I managed to learn from each of those experiences."
When Cabral finally did land a job as a realtor, he ended up being laid off. He received this heartbreaking news the same day his daughter was born, and couldn't help but fear and worry for how he was going to be able to provide for his growing family.
He started going to the gym as an outlet. It was there that he realized a need in the market. It was inconvenient and annoying to have a combination lock, or worse, one you opened with a key. In this day and age, it made far more sense to have a fingerprint recognition lock.
He brought his idea to fruition with pure innovative and entrepreneurial energy.
Robbie turned "no's" into "yes's" with his commitment and passion for his product.
"Talk about entrepreneurship," said Cabral. "I'm now sitting with two big entrepreneurs and I'm already learning as I go. But it's just that passion and grind to keep pushing. And that's kind what made me here. So, I'm just hoping to inspire people whether you're an immigrant or not," Cabral explained.
His journey has been surrounded by his perseverance, and even when people told him what he was trying to achieve was impossible, he didn't let their words stop him.
"If you have an idea, just keep pushing... you can't imagine how many people throughout this whole thing told me, 'Go back to the 9 to 5', 'that's not going to work out', 'that's a stupid idea,'" said Cabral.
He now has two huge partners, "Mr. Wonderful" and Kim Kelley, and is excited for his product to hit the market by 2018, when it's time to head back to school.
As Kelley said, "For somebody who doesn't know much about padlocks and even less about patents, he's created the design for a phenomenally effective and secure long-lasting padlock that's going to deliver on consumer expectations."
O'Leary says he's thrilled to working with Cabral. Originally, he was worried that someone else would invent his idea, buy Robbie out, and bury the idea so that the Benjilock technology wouldn't disrupt the space. But together, this dream team is making sure that doesn't happen.
Cabral says he feels as though he's accomplished the American dream--but it's just as clear that he's well on his way to achieving every entrepreneur's dream as well.