Kevin Harrington is no stranger to seeing the potential in companies, and their leaders. As an active and successful investor, Harrington has been instrumental in launching over 20 businesses that have grown to over $100 million in sales each, and has been involved in the launch of over 500 products generating more than $6 billion in sales worldwide. Whenever Harrington puts his years of experience and knowledge behind a brand, success is sure to follow. Which is why when the Pelletier brothers (Jean Jean and Robert) needed advice on the launch of their company, GrapeStars, they traveled to Harrington’s hometown of Tampa, Florida and pitched the original “Shark” himself on their idea.
Harrington rose to prominence through the invention of the modern day infomercial. One evening, Harrington was watching cable television and the station he was watching went dark for the night. This was of course before the days of “always on” streaming, so if a station went dark that meant they literally had nothing to air except for Color Bars. Harrington saw the potential in these unfilled slots, which led him to approach the networks with a unique proposition — utilize this previously non-programmed air time to showcase entertainment-based commercials (better known as infomercials). What followed was the launch of some of the most iconic brands and personalities in the 90s, including Jack LaLanne, Tony Little and George Foreman.
This paid advertisement (infomercial) model was an instant success with networks and consumers alike, and Harrington was able to grow the business into the mega “As Seen On TV” brand that is now popularized by retail locations. He was instrumental in the initial launch of HSN and has had tremendous success launching brands in the direct-to-consumer advertising space, including the popular I-Grow hair restoration product sold on QVC.
Harrington became in-demand for his ability to quickly grow business at scale, providing an outlet for entrepreneurs of all types to hawk their wares, including on television and via retail locations. His success attracted up and coming celebrity entrepreneurs, including Kris Jenner, who appeared in several infomercials in the 1990s to promote fitness and workout oriented products like the Zero G Strider.
This incredible success led to a call from Mark Burnett, who enlisted Harrington to be one of the original ‘sharks’ on the popular series Shark Tank. Within the first two seasons, Harrington appeared in 175 segments, providing investment advice and financial backing to fortunate up-and-coming entrepreneurs and their companies. This platform provided even more notoriety for Harrington’s ability to recognize solid leaders and see the potential in their business plans. With over 1,000 investment deals under his belt, Harrington has helped the companies he’s backed — as an investor, ambassador or minority stake holder — recognize over $6 billion in sales.
In 2005, Harrington and the Pelletier brothers convinced billionaire Marcelo Claure, former President and CEO of Sprint, to launch StarShop in conjunction with dozens of celebrities, including Beyoncé, Katie Perry, Eli Manning, Justin Bieber, Paula Abdul, Flo Rida and Rihanna, each offering their own products as well as products they support within this app which was embedded on Sprint phones. In 2013, Harrington joined the board of Celsius, then a fledging beverage start-up with a few million dollar valuation. Celsius is now one of the most popular fitness-oriented beverages with a valuation of over $8 billion.
These days, Harrington and his son Brian are actively advising companies, entrepreneurs, celebrities and influencers alike, utilizing their vast knowledge, connections and expertise to drive growth. Kevin will often tap into his database of celebrity friends and point them to products they should become involved in, helping to boost exposure for these companies quickly. He is also an esteemed author, and his latest book, Mentor To Millions, was recently featured as the #2 best-selling book in the Wall Street Journal and a bestseller in USA Today.
As co-founder of the Electronic Retailers Association (ERA) and co-founder of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), Harrington is actively seeking new investment opportunities as an ambassador or minority owner, specifically focusing on those businesses’ that have not only a unique proposition but also are being led by strong and innovative leaders — such as brothers Jean Jean and Robert Pelletier who co-founded GrapeStars.
Harrington is a connoisseur of cigars and fine wine and is an active user of GrapeStars — an incredibly fun and super sleek app that allows you to discover and buy your favorite celebrity’s alcohol brands.
Harrington often uses the GrapeStars platform to source and purchase celebrity-backed wines and spirits, which he uses for gifting or to add to his collection when entertaining friends and family.
Because the wines and spirits industry is ultra-competitive and distribution becomes a challenge for up-and-coming brands, GrapeStars provides a platform for consumers to easily find these must-have products, making it an essential resource for both the celebrity and consumer buyer alike.
In the following video, Harrington shares why he is excited about the future of GrapeStars (he is also an investor and strategic advisor with the company) and is fond of Jean Jean, Robert, Stephan Fortier and their team for their tenacity and ability to bring celebrities and innovators alike to the table.
Harrington is providing the entire GrapeStars board with his valuable expertise, helping to bring the platform to the next generation in its business evolution. In addition, Harrington is excited about the growth of the partnership with a360media (parent company of Men’s Journal as well as leading celebrity brands such as Us Weekly, Star, In Touch and Life & Style) which will allow the platform to reach an incredible audience of over 60 million consumers on a monthly basis.
“Robert, Jean-Jean and Stephan are among the scrappiest entrepreneUrs I know. They have great ideas and execution that help the company navigate the ups and downs of a startup. by investing significantly in their technology and distribution throughout the U.S., as well Building a wines & spirits powerhouse (including the recent hiring of industry vet abbott wolfe, formerly of constellation brands, diageo and ex-CEO of cameron diaz’s avaline wines). I’m excited FOR the future of GrapeStars!” – Kevin HarringtoN
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