Twin Cities, MN - Midwest Rabbi Impresses Financial Tycoons on Reality Show
Twin Cities, MN - A Minnesota rabbi turned inventor scored both a new partner and seed money for his product after pitching his creation on a highly popular nationally televised reality show.
After developing the SoundBender, a small plastic power free device that improves iPad sound quality and clarity by redirecting the sound from the back of the tablet towards the user, Rabbi Moshe Weiss, the former director of development at the now defunct Yeshiva High School of the Twin Cities, began searching for an infusion of capital in order to further enhance his invention.
“We ran two successful Kickstarter campaigns which help me finance the original run of the SoundBender,” Rabbi Weiss told VIN News. “I was looking to take things further and several friends and my sister suggested I take my product to Shark Tank.”
Shark Tank, a program that runs weekly on ABC, gives fledgling entrepreneurs the opportunity to persuade one of five multi-millionaires to invest in their product in exchange for a percentage of the business.
“I was already selling the Soundbender on Amazon and eBay and was working on developing retail packaging when Walgreens contacted me about carrying the product,” explained Rabbi Weiss. “I don’t really know how that happened. It is all G-d, not me. And then the Shark Tank producers contacted me.”
Rabbi Weiss admits to being more than a little surprised when he was contacted by the show’s producers.
“Honestly, I had forgotten all about it,” recalled Rabbi Weiss. “I had to fill out a huge application and submit an audition tape. Two weeks later they contacted me again telling me they were interested in proceeding.”
Rabbi Weiss began working on his sales pitch with two Shark Tank producers when he received word of the scheduled shoot date for the episode, which ultimately aired on February 1st.
“Their only availability was on Rosh Hashana. There was some back and forth and for a while they suggested that maybe I should wait until next year but one of the co-executive producers was Jewish and they finally worked out another date during the same week,” said Rabbi Weiss.
After spending his first Rosh Hashana ever away from his family, Rabbi Weiss spent over an hour filming what ended up being an eleven minute segment on Shark Tank where he appeared wearing his yarmulka, his tzitzis hanging neatly at the sides of his pants.
“One of the great things about reality shows is that it is emes,” explained Rabbi Weiss. “Reality is the hardest thing to fake so there was no way I could go on that show and not be myself. Even from the first phone call from the casting producer they told me they had never featured a rabbi before and told me it could work to my advantage. You have to use all the kochos you have so I just went there being exactly who I am.”
Rabbi Weiss’ initial pitch asked for an investment of $54,000 in exchange for a twenty six percent share in the business.
“I could have just as easily asked for twenty five percent but twenty six is the gematriya of Shem Havaya and my biggest partner is Hashem,” said Rabbi Weiss. “Any offer of my company would have to involve Hashem so I thought using the gematriya would be a good way to show the involvement of Hakadosh Baruch Hu.”
Ultimately, Rabbi Weiss ended up with offers from two members of the Shark Tank, although both asked for a forty percent share of the business finally accepting the deal proffered by FUBU clothing mogul Daymond John. The SoundBender, which has a suggested manufacturer’s retail price of $12.99, made it to Walgreens’ shelves in time for the busy holiday season and can also be found at several other outlets. Rabbi Weiss reports that he has sold 25,000 of the small plastic devices and that since his Shark Tank episode has aired, inquiries continue to pour in, while he continues to develop additional ideas for the product line.
“We other ideas cooking up in the cholent pot and will focus on iPad mini, iPhones, Android based devices and even flat screen televisions. A lot of elderly are hard of hearing and keep their volume turned up high because the speakers are on the bottom of their TV or in the back. By creating a SoundBender for these devices we hope to be able to find them with better sound at a lower volume.”
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