Entrepreneurs Curtis Williams and Matt Von Waaden pitch Bellybuds in Shark Tank episode 508. Bellybuds are a “pre-natal speaker system” that allows music and sound to be played for fetuses in the womb at safe sound levels. Williams “invented” Bellybuds when he saw his wife using her iPod earbuds to play music for there yet to be born child. He contacted friend and product designer Wadden to make a set of Bellybuds that would allow his “multi-tasking wife” to move around and still play music to the baby.
Once they designed it, they realized they had something with broader appeal. They found a lot of research that indicates audio stimulation for fetuses over 20 weeks has beneficial effects by helping to develop sound and voice recognition patterns. Their product already has a lot of “Buzz” as it's appeared on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and “Modern Family.” They'll be looking to the Sharks to bring the music to babies everywhere.
Bellybuds Shark Tank Recap
Curtis and Matt come into the Shark Tank seeking a $500,000 investment, in return for 12.5% of the company. The pair bring a pregnant model to show off the product in use, demonstrating how they adhere to the lady's belly. They explain how the baby responds to audio stimulation while still in the womb.
Sales in the first year were $300,000, and at the time of the taping of the Shark Tank episode, they'd reached $340,000, approaching $1.4 million in total sales. The business is, at this time, losing money, in spite of the strong sales. They'd sold product to companies that undersold the product, which sabotaged their relationships with other retailers. They were able to mitigate the problem by stopping sales until the under-sellers were sold out, salvaging the relationships with their main retailers.
They've had a patent pending for three years, which concerns Lori Greiner. Kevin O'Leary questions the valuation. The pair have inventory sitting in warehouses. Lori Greiner goes out based on the business mistakes thus far.
Barbara Corcoran agrees. “I'm out truly for the numbers,” she says. The valuation is hurting the entrepreneurs' chances. Kevin O'Leary can't get his head around the numbers, and doesn't believe he can make money on the pair. He's out.
Robert Herjavec says he was interested until Mark Cuban's remark that he and his wife have been been using similar products for the past nine years. Herjavec believes the competition is too strong, and the pair don't have an established niche in the market, with enough differentiation to set them apart. “I don't want to waste your time,” he says, and goes out.
Belly Buds Shark Tank Update
The Shark Tank effect hit Belly Buds hard, but the pair prepared in advance, warning their hosting service and their retailers to be prepared for the upsurge in traffic. The website was able to keep up with the flow, even with an uptick from 200-300 hits per day to 15,000 the night the show aired. Retail sales jumped as well, tripling over the weekend and settling out at about double in the week after the show.
Today, Belly Buds are available online, both through the website and through retail stores like Amazon, as well as being sold through several major retailers, like Babyland, and BuyBuyBaby, across the US, Canada, and even internationally. Although the Sharks didn't buy into the Baby Buds valuation, it seems these two are playing a sweet tune and growing a healthy profit. For more info, read the update interview with Curtis Mark Williams.