John Newton knows a thing or two about spreading a message.
A former minister, the founder and inventor of Pool-Pets has spent the last year and a half traveling 60,000 miles with his wife, Debi, to market what he says is the only life-size water inflatable toy on the market. After raising $100,000 to launch the first model, an Orca, the couple gave away all their possessions to their children, sold their home, bought a 2013 Dodge Town and Country and began their journey.
This past summer, they purchased a motor home and now tow their van, which is wrapped in a custom Pool-Pets logo. Last January, Newton went to his first of four casting calls for “Shark Tank” and, although he has yet to be selected for the show, he says the producers continue to express interest in the line, which has grown to include a stingray, glow-in-the-dark eel, a mermaid, shark and a prototype for a submarine.
As of December, Pool-Pets had manufactured 25,500 units and could be found at roughly 400 retail stores.
The couple ended the year by introducing Pool-Pets at the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo in Orlando.
Through it all, Newton says he has remained patient while undergoing the launch process. Though tough, he believes the company will achieve its three-pronged goal: raise money to help young ministers; help themselves in retirement; and help their children to raise their families.
“Keep moving forward, if you believe in what you’re doing,” he says. “There will always be some setbacks, but you work through them and you keep going.”