Minneapolis-based startup Vibes will continue to be a self-funded operation after founder Jackson Mann was unable to land a deal with any “shark” investors on a recent episode of Shark Tank
Mann, who is a Wayzata native and University of St. Thomas graduate, offered $100,000 for a 20 percent stake in his company during the January 27 episode of the ABC show.
“I ended up rupturing my eardrum at a concert due to loud sounds,” Mann told the five-shark panel. “Wanting to not do that again, I did what most people do and grabbed a pair of foam earplugs. I put them in and instantly realized they are not designed for music. They are designed for snoring spouses, mowing lawns, constructions sites, things like this but not music.”
The experience led Mann to develop a set of high-fidelity earplugs that would negate ear damage without dulling the sound of an event. To test and design the product, Mann utilized the University of Minnesota’s Audiology Department and collaborated with local music vendors like the Target Center and Skyway Theater.
To further prove the ability of Vibes, Mann brought in the McNasty Brass Band, a Minneapolis-based group.
However, the sharks quickly became disillusioned with Vibes upon hearing its $23.99 retail price, $4 production cost and current revenue stream of $30,000.
“I own an arena and we book music and when the Mavs play it can get loud,” said Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. “These would be great, but they have to be giveaways. At $4 cost, you can’t give these away.”
Other sharks expressed concern over Mann’s ability to improve the company’s point of sale, specifically the ability to convince arena or music venue owners to sell Vibes to attendees.
Mann’s only offer came from Kevin O’Leary, a businessman who most famously sold The Learning Company to Mattel for $4.2 billion in 1999.
“I’m only going to make you one offer and I’m not going to negotiate,” O’Leary said. “I’ll give you the $100,000 with a royalty of $2 for every pair sold until I get my money back. And I want 35 percent of the company and to be an ongoing partner.”
Without hesitation, Mann dismissed O’Leary’s offer saying a royalty deal was not in the cards.
Vibes is not the only Minnesota company to appear on Shark Tank
. At the start of last year, Hastings-based Extreme Sandbox appeared on the show and came out with an investment deal. Shortly after the company’s Shark Tank
experience, it opened a new location in Pottsboro, Texas.