Despite being 10 years old when first introducing his new business on Shark Tank, Ryan Kelly has been no stranger to entrepreneurship.
Ryan says he has always loved business, noting that "I had lemonade stands, sold Halloween candy on the bus--I even rented my sneakers to my brother once!"
However, it was Ryan's dog, Barkley, that helped him launch Ry's Ruffery and eventually led him to wind up on Shark Tank.
Man's Best Friend Deserves Better
Young Ryan had just adopted his new best friend, Barkley, from the animal shelter. He and his family stopped to pick up some treats for the dog at a nearby store, but when they got home, the whole family agreed the treats just weren't up to par (Barkley was having none of it). Determined to give his new canine companion the perfect dog treat, Ryan got to work. He consulted veterinarians, experimented with various dog-friendly flavors, and threw on an apron as he got to work in his mother's kitchen.
The result? A treat Barkley went bananas over. But Ryan soon found that it wasn't just Barkley who was howling with glee over his new, all-natural, healthy treats. Ryan started giving the biscuits to other dogs in the neighborhood, and the goodies were a huge hit!
A Boy Swims With Sharks
Ryan admits that when he first heard about Shark Tank, he began watching it because he thought it was about real sharks (an honest mistake, Ryan). Despite confused first impressions, Ryan grew to like the show, which puts dreamy-eyed entrepreneurs in the room with vicious, salivating investors.
As word got out abut Ryan's all-natural dog treats, a community member eagerly called Shark Tank after seeing that the show was seeking young entrepreneurs to feature. Producers called up Ryan's mom, and soon Ryan was booked for a dive with the sharks.
Despite being one the youngest entrepreneurs to appear on Shark Tank, Ryan stood his ground and got himself a bite! Barbara Corcoran knew that this elementary school entrepreneur was a big catch, and Ryan ended up bringing in $25,000 in exchange for 25 percent of his business.
Ryan's Advice? Entrepreneurship Can Happen at Any Age
Ever since Ryan's appearance on Shark Tank, business has been booming--his initial $800 in sales has now skyrocketed into six figures! Working with someone so young has been a new experience for both Ryan and Barbara Corcoran. As Ryan noted, "I'm probably the first entrepreneur who told you what time I get off the school bus!"
Now known as "the Shark Tank kid" at school, Ryan does his best to manage his growing business on the weekends. He has the help of his mother (who now works on Ry's Ruffery full-time managing production) and his older brother, who he notes is their best employee (besides Mom, of course).
Ryan offers sage startup advice dispensed to him by his mother: "Don't let anyone tell you what you can't do."
As for Barkley, the canine inspiration for Ry's Ruffery? He's one heck of a happy, fat, and spoiled dog, turning his nose up at any treats not crafted by his best pal, Ryan!