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Fort Shark Tank Update – Shark Tank Season 13

fortConor Lewis hopes a Shark will help him build Fort, his magnetic pillow fort business, in Shark Tank episode 1318. One day, Conor was watching his wife and son build a fort with couch cushions and blankets. He thought “there has to be a better way,” and he wrote “magnetic pillow fort” into a document on his phone. I April, 2020, he lost his job as a marketing and communications specialist for Alton Works, an organization seeking to revitalize the downtown corridor of Alton, Illinois.

He didn’t know what he was going to do, and when he was flipping through documents on his phone and saw the words “magnetic pillow fort.” He decided to go for it and within a month he had a design and was talking with factories. Conor got things started with a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised a whopping $3,107,079 back in February, 2021. The first units shipped in August, 2021, but as of March, 2022, there are still unshipped units due to supply chain issues.

The forts are like couch cushions but they have powerful magnets inside to keep things from falling apart. They’re made from polyurethane foam and polyurethane leather and they are water and stain proof. The magnets are neodymium magnets. Each set comes with 12 cushions. There are rectangular, arched and triangular cushions, so you can make a pitched roof and entry way. You can also set it up as a couch. Each set costs $499 plus shipping and they come in a variety of colors. Conor likely wants a Sharks help with manufacturing and inventory.

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Magnetic Pillow Forts by Fort

Fort Shark Tank Recap

Conor enters the Shark Tank by popping out of a fort onstage. He’s seeking $500,000 for 105 of his company. He tells his story and gives his pitch. The Sharks are amused by his pitch. Emma says he wins the award for “best dad.” He’s selling direct to consumer. Conor tells the Sharks he has a 5% partner who has the option of buying up to 40% of the business if they reach certain revenue targets.

Each set costs $499. The Sharks are shocked at the price. He explains his Kickstarter and has $4.5 million in total sales (including Kickstarter). The Kickstarters sold for $269 which was selling at a loss. He didn’t sell enough to cover cost, so he upped the price to $499 and it didn’t hurt sales. He’s still shipping Kickstarters.

Conor burnt all the Kickstarter cash and Robert says he’s selling himself out of business. Emma wants to know about the partner. He has the relationship with the factory and the marketing. If they reach $30 million in sales, the partner has an option to buy in.

Kevin says he can’t justify the cost, he’s out. Mark doesn’t like the idea of being diluted by the partner; he’s out. Emma isn’t sure if it’s going to work; she’s out. Lori says the partner is doing what she’d do; she’s out. Robert likes Conor’s humility; he’s trying to talk himself into it; but he’s out.

Fort Shark Tank Update

The Shark Tank Blog constantly provides updates and follow-ups about entrepreneurs who have appeared on the Shark Tank TV show. As of July, 2022, there is no new news about this company. On a slightly disturbing note, the company Facebook page and the Kickstarter page are littered with comments from disgruntled customers. Customer complaints include not receiving their Forts, an inability to talk to customer service and getting the wrong color shipped.

In October, 2023, there are still many Kickstarter backers who have not recieved their Forts. The website says it’s “sold out” and social media has not been updated since August, 2022. The Missouri attorney general started an investigation into the business, but sometime around March, 2023, the company shut down. To add insult to injury, the products were recalled. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, “the magnets used to connect the various pieces of The FORT can become dislodged from their pouches, posing choking and laceration hazards to young children.” The Commission further stated there is no remedy to consumers because the company is out of business.

The Shark Tank Blog will follow-up on Fort & Conor Lewis as more details become available.