Van Gould and Chris Sheldon pitch the NoPhone, a “device” for people who spend too much time on their smart phones, in Shark Tank episode 728. The tongue-in-cheek product got funded on Kickstarter (twice) for a total of over $20,000 in the fall of 2014 and again in 2015. As they say on their Kickstarter page: “The NoPhone is a technology-free alternative to constant hand-to-phone contact that allows you to stay connected with the real world.”
The product is nothing more than a rectangular piece of plastic that looks and feels like a smart phone. The NoPhone Zero has false USB ports and camera lens and the NoPhone Selfie has an adhesive mirror on one side. The product is meant to be a joke, but some people use it as a “placebo” to take with them on dates or to movies. A CNET review called it “the most useless gift since the Pet Rock.”
Dubbed as the “largest fake phone company in the world,” the business has sold over 4000 units. Sean and Steven pack and ship out of a 400 square foot apartment in New York when they aren't working as art directors for an NYC based ad agency. They likely want a Shark to help them get mass distribution.
Will a Shark say yes or no to this investment?
NoPhone Shark Tank Recap
Van and Chris come into the Shark Tank seeking $25,000 in return for 25% of their company, NoPhone. The pair begin their presentation with their noses clearly buried in what appear to be cell phones. They explain that 79% of Americans spend as many as 22 hours a day on their phones.
“With your help, we can make the NoPhone the “pet rock” of our generation.” The pitch is silly and tongue in cheek, but they've sold 3,100 NoPhones. The cost of a NoPhone is $12, and the “selfie upgrade”- a mirror- is $18. Cost of production is $2.95. The product is an obvious gag or novelty gift.
Daymond John asks the first serious question, wanting to know if they have a patent. They do. Mark Cuban is unimpressed. “If there's something I hate more than people being constantly on their phones,” he says, “It's a stupid patent. I'm out.”
Lori Greiner agrees. “There's a poster,” she says, “Of a cat that says ‘hang in there.' That's what I'm going to say to this. I'm out.”
Robert Herjavec thinks the product is “really clever,” but he fears that the $3,100 units is “the whole market.” He's out.
“I would just feel stupid investing in this, I'm sorry,” says Daymond John. He's out.
“Look guys, it's really bad. Really bad. I'm out,” says Kevin O'Leary. He's the final Shark out, and the NoPhone guys leave the Tank with no Shark deal.
NoPhone Shark Tank Update
The Shark Tank Blog constantly provides updates and follow-ups about entrepreneurs who have appeared on the Shark Tank TV show. Once an episode has aired, we monitor the progress of the businesses featured, whether they receive funding or not and report on their progress.
NoPhone's gag-gift status didn't set well with the Sharks, which is in line with products they've rejected in the past, like a spray booth for suntan lotion, which was more hype than practicality. Although the NoPhone creators have maintained the website, and the product is available on Amazon, social media updates are sporadic and it appears that Van and Chris have moved on to bigger and, hopefully, more productive things.