A Rabbi is the last person you'd expect to see on Shark Tank, but Rabbi Moshe Weiss was a huge hit last Friday in episode 415. His pitch was humorous, entertaining, informative, and he had his numbers down pat. The Sharks like Rabbi Moshe and so did the many fans tweeting on the #SharkTank hashtag. The Soundbender had all the major components of a Shark Tank Success Story: Sales, a unique product that serves a need, and an entertaining and informative pitchman. The fact the pitchman was a Rabbi was indeed a novelty, but it didn't interfere with the overall message. I caught up with Rabbi Moshe Weiss (he insisted I call him Moshe) after his episode aired for a fun and enlightening interview.
What the Heck is a Rabbi doing in the Shark Tank?
Moshe didn't invent SoundBender because he was looking to start a business. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” he quips, “I wanted better sound from my iPad; when I couldn't find a solution, I made one. I took wax strips with toothpicks and within a week I had a prototype. Things came together quickly. I believe in God and believe God had a hand in it. I found a manufacturer and a patent lawyer within a week. God put the right people in front of me. I believed in the SoundBender right away and I said to my wife ‘I am going to make this product and sell it.'”
That explains how it got invented, perhaps with some Divine intervention, but I wondered what his “flock” thought of his business venture. “My ‘flock' was not surprised,” he said while chuckling, “they thought it was totally in character. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I'm not a ‘pulpit Rabbi,' I'm a ‘pew Rabbi' and I like it that way.”
Suffice to say Moshe had the support of those around him. “People kept telling me ‘you should be on Shark Tank.' I'm a huge fan of the show. I think it's the most real reality show on TV. I was very happy with the response; it was both humbling and flattering. After the show aired, I felt like a Hollywood actor on stage saying ‘they like me, they really like me!'”
The Road to Shark Tank
Rabbi Weiss applied via email and didn't hear a thing for almost 5 months. “One day, I got a voice mail from the producers, I was so busy with SoundBender, I'd forgotten about it. I was set to tape in September, but they were taping during Rosh Hashanah and I told them I couldn't do it. Rosh Hashanah was on a Monday and Tuesday last fall and they wanted to tape on Tuesday, but they accommodated me. I ended up taping on Thursday.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Rabbi vs Sharks
“I have to give a lot of credit to my producers. They really got me well prepared. They helped me be the best me I could be. Being in the Tank was surreal. The Sharks kept calling me ‘Rabbi' and I asked them to call me Moshe. Robert called me Moshe, but the rest called me Rabbi. After we made the deal, Daymond called me ‘Moo Shee.' I told him I wasn't Chinese food!”
“I was happy with how everything turned out. They left a few things out. After Daymond gave me ten seconds to decide, I asked to step into the hall to call my wife. The funniest thing they left out was my very last line of my pitch. I said ‘the SoundBender will do for the iPad what lox and cream cheese did for the bagel. Then all the Sharks said ‘AMEN!' I was taping for over an hour and when I was done, the producers told me they'd have a tough time editing the segment, because it was all so awesome.”
Working with Daymond
“I'm glad to be working with Daymond, he's so inspirational. He literally started with one hat and built a brand. I went with him because of that – Daymond gave me my ‘one hat' opportunity. Robert’s offer was generous too – but I wanted to take the hard road. If you want to be an entrepreneur you take the hard road. We are working together strategizing on the opportunities before us to promote Soundbender as a brand. Daymond is the branding King, and he has a great hug!”
SoundBender is doing brisk sales online and is in approximately 350 Walgreens stores across the country. “Being in the store and selling in the store are two different things. As for the website, it didn't crash – Shopify is AWESOME – but I don't focus on web stats, I watch the bottom line.”
Rabbi Weiss did not watch the show on Friday night since he was observing the Sabbath. He had a viewing party on Saturday night. “I'd say 75% of the people in the room saw it on Friday, but they all laughed in the right spots. The feedback was all good. When we were taping, Mark Cuban asked how I watched the show. I told him, ‘on my iPad!' I watch everything on my iPad, I don't really think about when a show is on.”
As for Shark Tank, Moshe is a big fan, but he didn't watch too many shows since he taped. “My wife never misses a show, but I found it too nerve wracking to watch after I taped.”
Moshe said Daymond is working on getting SoundBender on TV “on one of the shopping channels.” There are other related products in the works too. “I'm working on a SoundBender for the iPad Mini and even for large screen TVs.”
The fun-loving Rabbi and entrepreneur has molds made that can produce up to 8 million SoundBenders, so inventory won't be an issue. SoundBender is made in the USA in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota. Right now, Moshe is putting everything back into the company. He has big plans, but humble aspirations. “One day, I hope to be able to buy a car with a window that goes all the way up!”
He said his mantra for success varies. “It depends on where I am at any given time. It fluctuates from ‘plan-work-succeed' to ‘think-work-succeed.' Either way, you have to work to succeed. You could have the best idea in the world, but if you don't work at it, you'll never succeed.”
I had one other question for Rabbi Weiss. He asnwers it at The Hot Dog Truck.