Pop Slate wants to change the way people look at the back of their iPhone. Look at it now: all you see is your camera lens, an Apple logo, and a bunch of unused space. Inventor Yashar Behzadi envisioned using that space as a way to display pictures back in 2012. Since then, he turned Pop Slate into a phone case that also acts as a battery back-up and second screen. He pitches the idea to the Sharks in episode 710.
The idea, years in the making, is part of a growing trend and set of developments in the smart phone industry. Phone manufacturers are looking at ways to put functionality on the back of phones as full screens become the new norm in the industry. Behzadi is ahead of the curve with Pop Slate. The back of the phone can display custom functions (like a clock, reminders, weather, apps etc) while protecting the phone in a rugged case. There's a built-in back-up battery that add nine hours or so to an iPhone's charge time.
The company raised over $1 million last March to get the product produced. As of the initial air date, they were just getting ready to ship and are offering the product on a pre-order basis. Will a Shark bite on this unique, new product?
My Take on Pop Slate
I use a phone case for my iPhone and I've been considering getting one with a built-in battery because my phone always dies when I am travelling. I never thought a case could turn the back of my phone into another screen! While it's not a “must-have” for me, at around 90 bucks, it's priced around what a comparable, quality battery back-up case costs, and it does more.
It would be convenient to see the time, or quickly see reminders without unlocking my phone. The e-reader capabilities would let me read a book without shelling out extra cash for a Kindle, too. Pop Slate wraps several products into one, neat, functional package. For that reason, I am in.
Do Sharks go Pop?
I think the Sharks will be impressed with the technology and functionality of Pop Slate, but I see two potential roadblocks to a deal.
The first and most obvious roadblock is valuation. The company has no sales, just crowdfunding pre-orders. This could put the Sharks off if Behzadi doesn't value the company properly. The Sharks love pounding pre-revenue companies on valuation, and if there's no wiggle room, they won't bite.
The second potential roadblock is some phone manufacturers are already testing “back-of-the-phone technology.” HTC and Ericson are looking at adding functionality – not unlike Pop Slate's – to their phone's backs. You can bet Apple is developing something, too. While Pop Slate is pretty much ready to ship, its product life could be short-lived if the same technology gets built into phones in the next few years.
With that said, I think the product will impress, but Behzadi will leave without a deal.