Turbo Trusser After Shark Tank: We Caught Up With One Of The Founders

Who doesn't remember Turbo Trusser? After all, men disguised as poultry is about as thrilling as it gets on "Shark Tank" — which is something Brian Halasinski and Kirk Hyust were counting on. "Not too many people can dress up like their product," Hyust told Tasting Table in an exclusive interview. 

Halasinski and Hyust weren't neck deep in the food world before inventing a tool to truss up chickens and turkeys without copious amounts of twine. Although Hyust graduated from The Culinary Institute of America, he works as a building contractor and met Halasinski — a salesman by day — while renovating his house. "We were just like, 'we got to do something that's fun and easy to manufacture,'" Hyust told us. "We can eat chicken ... because we're cooking all the time. We can drink beer. We can hang out. We can actually work while we're having fun. That's pretty much why we got into it." Because Hyust has always moonlighted as an inventor, when the two joined forces, they had his experience to fall back on. 

You know a part of what comes next. Kevin O'Leary liked what he saw on "Shark Tank" and signed a same-day deal with the inventors. But what have the two been up to since? For one, they're still eating birds. "I bet between the two of us, we probably cook between five and 10 chickens a week," Hysut quipped. "Brian's dog eats a chicken a week." We chatted with the founders about everything else that's happened since their "Shark Tank" appearance.

What happened to Turbo Trusser on Shark Tank?

Brian Halasinski and Kirk Hyust applied to "Shark Tank" twice before producers invited them to pitch Turbo Trusser. Only after what Hysut calls an "intricate" application process (he can't detail it due to a nondisclosure agreement) did they find themselves in Sony Studios. By the time the two inventors were there, they needed to make a deal. "We were pretty much in desperate need of a shark," Hyust told us. "When we went on the show, we had $600 in our business bank account and like $4,000 in receivables. So we were running on fumes."

The Turbo Trusser wasn't "big enough" for Robert Herjavec. Barbara Corcoran didn't see "room for a third person." Mark Cuban dropped out due to scalability issues. As for Lori Greiner, thanks to Turbo Trusser, we now know she hates "touching chicken." But while none of the other sharks bit when the founders pitched $100,000 for 10% equity, Hyust told us they'd always been aiming for Kevin O'Leary anyway. O'Leary's brutal counter — $100,000 for 33% equity in the company plus $1.00 or royalty per unit manufactured — was admittedly a lot. Hyust, however, tells us they were "willing," to give it up. Besides, O'Leary had already started promoting the Turbo Trusser during the episode when he demonstrated its use, himself. "I had to tie his apron for him. So that was kind of cool," Hyust remembered. "And it went off without a hitch."

The part of Turbo Trusser's pitch you didn't get to see on camera

This might come as no surprise, but dressing up as a chicken and a turkey was exactly as uncomfortable as it looked on TV. "Brian was really sweaty. And at one point, Barbara stopped the filming and had the producers come out and pat Brian's head down with tissues," Kirk Hyust revealed to us. "She's like, 'someone get this guy a tissue. He's sweating,' you know, and he's like, 'I'm roasting like a chicken up here!'"

Apart from sweat, as "Shark Tank" viewers, we witnessed only a fraction of Turbo Trusser's presentation, which Hyust says was 35 to 40 minutes long. Remember when Hyust forgot his lines, for example? His deer-in-the-headlights moment went on longer than the producers showed us — at least in Hyust's memory. "I was kind of discombobulated for a second," he admitted. "It felt like a lifetime." The other part of the "Turbo Trusser" episode we weren't privy to as viewers was the intensity of Mr. Wonderful's negotiations with Hyust and Halasinski. The two inventors did try to soften O'Leary's offer — a lot harder than you may have thought. "They didn't even show half the negotiations," Hyust told us. "We tried to get him to have the royalty not in perpetuity ... We went back and forth like five times. He would not budge."

Turbo Trusser after Shark Tank

Brian Halasinski and Kirk Hyust didn't have to wait long to see their "Shark Tank" gamble pay off in at least three big ways. Firstly, the two inventors finalized their deal with Mr. Wonderful the same day the episode aired on September 30, 2022, according to what Halasinski later reported to the Canton Repository.

Secondly, just hours after the show ended, orders for Turbo Trussers started flooding their website. "We finished the finished the year, I think it was about $290,000 in sales," Hyust told Tasting Table. "You know, going in we had what $90,000 lifetime ... something like that. So yeah, the show was incredible." Thirdly, says Hyust, not only did the show exponentially increase Turbo Trusser's sales in months, but it also gave Hyust and Halasinski the publicity boost that they told the sharks they sorely needed. "It really helped us a lot. And it put us on the map," Hyust affirmed.

Turbo Trusser's battle with knockoffs cost them big

Turbo Trusser's increased visibility and sales came at a steep cost to Brian Halasinski and Kirk Hyust, who were unprepared for the copycatters that swarmed them like bees to honey. Not long after "Shark Tank" aired, the inventors found themselves in an embroiled epic battle with — Hyust estimates — around 178 companies making Amazon knockoffs of their trussing product. "They hijacked our Amazon account," Hyust told Tasting Table. "They actually got on our listing. People were ordering them and thought they were getting them from us. And here it said, you know, they're coming from China."

With the help of the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC), the Turbo Trusser founders managed to control the damage, but not before it cost them, per Hyust, nearly $300,000 in sales. "We got rid of them, thank God. "But, you know, it's an ongoing thing," Hyust — who, to this day, checks Amazon for counterfeits — reported.

Is Turbo Trusser still in business?

As of July 2023, Kirk Hyust reported to Tasting Table that Turbo Trusser is thriving. "We're way above last year where we were [and] we're coming up on our Super Bowl, which is the fourth quarter," the inventor told us. The company still isn't profitable enough for Hyust and Halasinski to give up their full-time jobs, but that hasn't stopped them from giving their all to Turbo Trusser. Per Hyust, both spend an additional 40 hours a week promoting the "Shark Tank"-approved product.

The inventors have focused their efforts on making their kitchen tool "mainstream," both through online marketing and in-person demonstrations. "We're doing one this Saturday in Columbus. We're going to be in a big green egg festival down there," Hyust revealed. "Last weekend, I was at a state cook-off. ... Anywhere we can go and showcase it, we go. If there's 10 people there or 10,000, you know, it doesn't matter. We're just trying to get the word out." Feedback from in-person demonstrations has by and large been positive, per Hyust. "I mean, it's so simple once you see it done once," he told us. Turbo Trusser's Amazon customers (where the product has a 4.3 out of 5 stars and over 500 reviews) corroborate Hyust's report, writing about how consistently "moist" and "evenly" cooked their poultry with the help of the tool.

Has Mr. Wonderful kept up his end of the deal?

Mr. Wonderful fans no doubt watched Kevin O'Leary stepping up as a third partner for Turbo Trusser when the investor visited "Good Morning America," in June to promote the product on national TV. On set, O'Leary demonstrated a Mediterranean chicken recipe that Kirk Hyust, himself, developed — although it was O'Leary who came up with a new company slogan, "Don't fuss it, just truss it." Catchy, right? Halasinski and Hyust like it so much that they're planning to put on t-shirts.

GMA was not a one-off event. Per Hyust, he and Halasinski have been consistently collaborating with O'Leary Ventures on similar national publicity pushes. Like what "Shark Tank" alum Hector Saldivar (of Tia Lupita) told us, the Turbo Trusser founders have nothing but glowing words for O'Leary Ventures. "His team's really great. His CEO and his public relations person is phenomenal," Hyust affirmed to Tasting Table. "He's doing a lot of work for us. We're really, really happy with them."

What's next for Brian Halasinski and Kirk Hyust?

Brian Halasinski and Kirk Hyust aren't completely sure what their endgame is. Maybe they'll sell the company, Hyust told us, once it becomes a household name. For now, they're focusing on building it. Meanwhile, the two inventors have other products in the pipeline, some of which will be available for purchase soon.

For one, they're expanding their Turbo Trusser repertoire to encompass other poultry. A version adapted for Cornish hens is about to hit the market. "They're ready to be packaged," Hyust revealed. "We're just waiting on the wires." The two entrepreneurs are also expanding into edible culinary products in the form of a poultry brine and a spice rub. The latter, Hyust described as a "medium hot," herby and all-purpose, for chicken, turkey, pork, and veggies.

The Turbo Trusser founders have another surprise up their sleeves, too. They can't talk about it much yet, as they're in the middle of filing a provisional patent application for it. Hyust, however, did give us some hints. It's a grilling device, he told Tasting Table. While it will work on chickens and turkeys, it's not solely for poultry, which — needless to say — promises to be a relief for the Halasinski and Hyust's chicken-heavy diet. "I think I've made every chicken leftover that's possibly imaginable," Hyust said. Now, he's looking forward to using his chef training to cook up more varied dishes.