Swimming With The Sharks

by Sarah Bradley on June 22, 2016 in Living Texas, Austin,
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How do you get on ABC’s top-ranked TV show, Shark Tank? In the case of one Austin entrepreneur, it took many years of hard work before she got to face the formidable lineup of heavy-hitting investors. For anyone who has children or who has ever watched a child, it is safe to say it’s not an easy job. It’s a job that involves many messes, inevitable disorganization and plenty of stress. However, one woman is inching her way to providing more of a stress free life for those who watch over children in any way.

Brenda Lee Feldman. Courtesy photo
Brenda Lee Feldman. Courtesy photo

The founder of InchBug, Brenda Lee Feldman, has come up with adorable and inexpensive innovations that continue to make any guardian’s life easier. InchBug has three main products, Orbit Labels, MyDrinky and personalized adhesive labels that each provide unique ways to stay organized, all while being totally adorable. Orbit Labels, a non-adhesive, reusable way of labeling baby bottles and sippy cups, was the first product from Inchbug, which launched in 2004.

“I initially came up with this idea out of frustration with labeling bottles for my own daughter when the writing or other labels would wash off every time we put it in the dishwasher” Feldman said. “Once I had a product plan, I didn’t want to simply rely on friends’ opinions, so I went out to Babies’R’Us in the town where I was living and attended one of the weekend baby showers for pitching purposes. There, I was able to get real-world thoughts on my ideas and information on demographics: who would buy it, how much would they pay, where it should be sold, etc.”

After being turned down by many banks for loans, Feldman stumbled across a single mom working in Frost Bank. When the banker heard the idea she loved it, knowing how much easier life with a young child could be with this product, and granted Feldman a seven-year loan. Within the first year of business, that loan was already paid off.

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

“In 2013, I started working on a second item that would be more for the mass market,” Feldman said. “It was the adjustable juice-box holder, now known as MyDrinky. The thing about this juice-box holder is that it’s the only one on the market that is two pieces with adjustable height to accommodate all different sizes of juice-boxes.”

Not only were Feldman’s products grabbing the attention of those with children, but also prestigious investors. After attending an open casting call in 2015 for Shark Tank, Feldman was one of the select few from about 50,000 applicants to be featured on the show. “When I went to the casting call, we were told only 150 applicants would get filmed.” On the casting call, each applicant was given one minute to pitch their product. From there, Feldman was called back to go through extensive background checks to ensure the company’s legitimacy.

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Finally, Feldman received a call with news that InchBug had been selected to be filmed. (Her episode aired in April of 2015 – Season 7: Episode 23.) She was then flown out to Los Angeles for several days of filming including pre-filming day, feedback, display adjustments and finally, pitching to the sharks. Feldman was offered a deal by Kevin O’Leary. He wanted $400,000 in royalties and 5% of the company. He also discouraged her from going into retail. Because Feldman was aiming towards retailers, she declined. Without a deal from Shark Tank, she’s still landed her products in Buy Buy Baby and Bed Bath & Beyond. 

“Being on Shark Tank was an amazing experience,” Feldman said. Despite not getting a deal that worked for her. “I couldn’t be more thankful for the coverage and knowledge that has come from the show.”

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