Marcus Sorensen and Chris Studdert certainly aren’t the only husbands who ever told their wives they were quitting their jobs to start their own business. But the two Utah men are among the few who’ve done it on national television.
“It took some convincing,” Sorensen said. “I told her, ‘I’m quitting my job, and I’m doing this TV show.’ That’s sort of a recipe for — my husband has lost his mind.”
The TV show “I Quit” follows several entrepreneurs as they try to get their businesses off the ground. They get help from three successful business people and, at the end of a year, the pair with the most promising business gets $100,000.
The eight-episode series premieres Tuesday on Discovery — 8:07 p.m. on Dish and DirecTV; 11:07 p.m. on Comcast.
Sorensen and Studdert started their business, Blue Coolers, in 2017. They manufacture and sell heavy-duty, high-end coolers that aren’t cheap — they run from about $170 to $300. But they’re considerably less expensive than some competitors’ coolers — Yeti coolers start at about $300 and run up to about $1,200. And Studdert, an avid outdoorsman, was frustrated by that.
“It made me mad,” he said. “I knew from my manufacturing background that it doesn’t have to cost that much. And so when Marcus and I got talking, we both kind of came to this conclusion, and said, ‘Hey, there is a market there because that cooler does not have to cost that much.’”
And by early 2019 — just as filming began on “I Quit” — they decided they’d have to go all-in on their Blue Coolers business, which operates out of Orem.
“We were either going to commit to this business or we weren’t,” Sorensen said. “It was just too hard to try to juggle our 9-to-5 jobs and this.”
Quitting a job can be uncomfortable. It was even more so for Studdert, because (A) he worked with his brother, and (B) he quit on camera.
“That’s an awkward conversation, anyway. Then you throw a boom mike over the top of you and cameras on you, and it’s really awkward,” he said.
Sorensen also quits on camera, although he doesn’t have to tell his brother he’s leaving. And then the two go home — Sorensen to Mapleton, Studdert to Kaysville — and deliver the news to the mothers of their children. (Chris and Abby Studdert are the parents of four children, ages 5-14; Marcus and Jamie Sorensen have six kids, the youngest a high school senior.) And their wives are quite clearly less than thrilled.
“There was definitely a hint of, ‘What the hell are these two doing? I don’t want anything to do with it,’” Studdert said.
They’d discussed it before, of course. But “some of the first conversations I had with my wife about quitting were happening on camera,” Sorensen said. “So weird and awkward for sure. But, in a funny way, it sort of tempered the conversation because there was a camera right there so she couldn’t yell at me too much. So it kind of helped me out.”
In his conversation with his wife, Studdert pointed to the old saying that “Any publicity is good publicity.”
“I said, ‘Hon, this is a great opportunity. Yeah, we might have to air some dirty laundry on TV and people might see us fight and argue and struggle and make mistakes. But how many small companies get an opportunity to get their name out on national TV show? So it’s worth it.”
That’s the thought that won him over when Sorensen first raised the idea of appearing on “I Quit.”
“When I got the first email from Marcus about this, I thought, ‘What the ... You’re crazy! I don’t want anything to do with this.’
“My biggest challenge in life is that I don’t have a filter. So when you combine that with a camera — who knows what comes out of me? It could get a little iffy.”
But that’s exactly what reality-TV producers are looking for — people who will be real on camera without editing themselves too much. In return, there’s the free publicity that goes along with the show. And, maybe, $100,000.
“It can only help us,” Sorensen agreed. “Even if we do look like bozos in the process, the company will still look better.
“Maybe they’ll buy our coolers because they feel sorry for us,” he added with a laugh.