90 on the Clock with Mighty Handle
By John McGrath, KCPT, and Bobby Burch, Startland News
Think of Mighty Handle as your digital defender.
No, Mighty Handle is not anti-virus software. Rather, the handy, Kansas City-made contraption is a device that can save your fingers from the pain of hauling heavy grocery bags.
Made of recycled materials, Mighty Handle is an anchor-shaped gizmo that allows a user to carry six to eight bags —up to 50 pounds — in one hand. The company targets apartment dwellers, mothers and the aging population.
“Think about the last time you went grocery shopping — you get home and you try to crab claw everything and make it inside in one trip,” said Ben Rendo, founder of Mighty Green Solutions, which manufactures the device. “Mighty Handle takes the stress from those bag loops cutting into your hand and places the weight on your shoulder where it’s much more comfortable for us to carry groceries. It’s similar to if you picked up the handle of a suitcase.”
Rendo first sketched his idea for Mighty Handle on the back of a napkin in 2006 after he experienced the pain of lugging up groceries to his apartment. Nearly a decade later, he now works with his partner, Anita Newton, and a small team of manufacturers to produce the device and sell it to the masses.
“The challenge now is to get mindshare from customers,” he said. “Mighty Handle is a new product, so we’re not competing against an existing brand. We’re competing against the status quo, which is basically your hands.”
In July, Rendo and his team signed a massive deal with the largest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart. The agreement moves Mighty Handle into about 3,500 Wal-Mart stores nationwide.
A former presenter at 1 Million Cups, Rendo said Mighty Handle will surpass $1 million in revenue in 2015, and the product was featured on the Home Shopping Network in August. The company also will be selling Mighty Handle in A&P, Save-A-Lot and SUPERVALU stores.
Here are a few more nuggets from Rendo’s conversation with Startland News and Flatland:
On inspiration for Mighty Handle …
In 2006, I had been out of school for a couple years and had been transferred back to Kansas City from St. Louis. I lived in a walk-up apartment in downtown Kansas City and every week I’d go grocery shopping. I’d get home and then I’d try to Sherpa my bags up to get to my front door. By the time that I got there and jumbled my keys out, my hands, fingers and forearms would be red and on fire. So I thought there had to be a better way. That’s how I came up with the concept for Mighty Handle. I put it on the backburner until 2013.
On the company’s Wal-Mart deal …
We got into Wal-Mart with a test at 100 stores last October. We went in and beat our metrics and they said ‘We’re going to roll you out to about another thousand stores.’ We did that in January and continued to sell well above our weekly sales goals and last month we got rolled out to another 2,500 stores. Today we’re in about 3,500 Wal-Marts across the U.S.
On advice to other entrepreneurs …
You’ve got to stay positive. There are a lot of hard days and for me it’s incredibly important to have a team that’s supportive. Also my wife, Tracy, who’s been incredibly supportive — without her none of this would be possible. I’m not more talented or smarter than anybody, by any means. But I’ve surrounded myself with people that really are. Find that good team and go from there.