Shark Tank Has No Age Limit, Meet the 11 Year Old who Partnered with Barbara Corcoran

Shark Tank Has No Age Limit, Meet the 11 Year Old who Partnered with Barbara Corcoran
April 04 06:00 2017 Print This Article

Ryan Kelly was just 10 years old when he started his business selling all-natural dog treats and biscuits. After Ryan and his parents adopted a two-month-old beagle, they decided to purchase regular dog treats at a pet store, but once they opened the packaging, the smell really put them off. Ryan decided to test out and try different combinations of flavors, and made custom dog treats for Barkley. After he created his first homemade dog treats, his dog was really excited about them and ate them up right away. Ryan realized that he had the opportunity to bring healthy great tasting dog treats to dogs around the world and at just 11 years old entered the Tank with his mom Daniella, to make a deal with the Sharks. Ryan scores a deal worth $25,000.00 for 25% of his company with Barbara Corcoran and they were off to the races. I had a chance to catch up Daniela, and hear what Ryan’s Ruffery is up to know: Here’s what’s going on:


Jay: Watching your pitch on Shark Tank was so enjoyable and exciting. What was particularly amazing was your support of Ryan’s dream, in fact you were working for him! How are operations at Ryan’s Ruffery going at this point?

Daniela: It’s been an amazing journey for me to help Ryan grow his business. So many people comment to me about working for my son and how challenging that must be and to be honest it’s really a pleasure. What more could a mom want then to help and guide her son to follow his dreams and build a business. I’m always mindful of my primary responsibility of being Ryan’s mom and I make a conscience effort to keep mom and business separate.
Jay: What’s it like breaking into the pet supply market and how have you done since bringing Barbara on board?  

Daniela: The pet industry is extremely competitive and having Barbara on our team has been a dream. Ryan started his business from our kitchen and like so many entrepreneurs, we continue to learn and get better at what we do every day. We’ve really learned the value of focusing on what we do best and sticking to our niche market. While we’re in all Wegman stores which is the number 1 super market in the country, our focus is on smaller markets. As an entrepreneur you naturally want to be the best and the only way to do that is by identifying your strengths and focusing on your target markets. For us that meant connecting with smaller retailers which has enabled us to sell in 200 Kroger markets and focus on many different Mom & Pop shops.

Jay: What’s it like running a company where the CEO of the company just 15 years old?

 Daniela:  The fact that Ryan is so young is actually a tremendous advantage. Making sure we do everything in the USA is something extremely important to Ryan and because Ryan has no mortgage to pay he doesn’t cut any corners. We could have bought bags made in China for just $0.02 but we have them made in the USA for $0.40. We source everything from the US, and because Ryan is so young and has no other worries, he’s able to keep those priorities.

Jay: The Sharks always ask “So, what are your sales?” and in Ryan’s case they were just a couple $100.00 What was it like preparing for that question as well as the fact that the Sharks didn’t seem turned away from the low number?

Daniela: I think it speaks volumes about the Sharks themselves and on a broader scale what the Shark Tank show has done to empower anyone who has an idea. The platform has enabled anyone and everyone to follow their dreams, work hard and present your pitch for an opportunity to partner with some of the most successful men and women in business. It’s not about age, gender or background, it’s all about a great idea with a sensible vision. We knew going into the Tank that our sales were nothing to write home about and we weren’t going to hide that in any way.  The foundation of our pitch was the value of our product and our vision for the future. The amount of confidence that Barbara displayed by joining our team has bolstered Ryan’s conviction for success, and it continues to carry over each day.

Jay: What’s it like helping Ryan grow his business and keep up in school at the same time? How do you find the balance?

Daniela: I give a lot of credit to the school for accommodating to Ryan’s schedule. I do my best to make sure he keeps up with his schooling but to be perfectly honest, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity that’s absolutely invaluable. Ryan has learned so much from the reality of running his own business and to me that’s the best type of schooling possible. He’s given speeches to crowds of over 25k people for companies like Google and Twitter! His speaking engagements are so important to him and when he speaks the passion he displays is palatable. He loves to share his story, and more importantly his failures, because it’s from failure that you learn the most. While Ryan spends a lot of time out of his classroom he tries to inspire others who are in their classrooms. His message is really clear and simple, if you have a talent or a dream don’t let anything get in the way. Pursue your ideas and turn your dreams into a reality.

Jay: What’s your message to other parents with kids that have great ideas. Should they allow their children to pursue them while in school?

Daniela:  ABSOLUTELY PURSUE IT! I would never encourage anyone to allow their children to quit school, because I think school and business opportunities actually go hand in hand, and you can’t have one without the other. Everyone has different interests and different opportunities that they’re passionate about and I think we shouldn’t let age be a barrier to a child’s success. Often Ryan’s school would call and bring the amount of school Ryan missed to my attention and my reply has always respectfully been that he may never get a chance like this again. The value he’s gotten despite the days he’s missed is irreplaceable for now and for his future. I think children have tremendous potential and I’m so grateful to be part of the wonderful Shark Tank family.


Ryan BioOur Story: My quest for a better dog biscuit!

On the drive home from adopting Barkley, a 2-month-old rescue beagle, my mom and dad bought dog treats at a pet food outlet. When we opened the bag, the smell sent us all scurrying, our puppy included. That’s when I decided I was old enough (10) to know that my new best friend needed a better biscuit! I visited veterinarians, and began testing different flavor combinations, and experimenting in the kitchen with my mom. I found the most wholesome ingredients I could, and created my first batch of homemade treats, and this time, Barkley ate them up! I began pedaling my biscuits by bike to other dog owners in my neighborhood. Soon I had two- and four-legged fans howling for more. That’s how Ry’s Ruffery was born – a labor of love dedicated to creating my all-natural dog treats that pet owners would love to give as much as their furry friends would love to devour them. I think you and your dog will agree they are the very best, paws down!