By: Shira Shans ’19
“It definitely got me out of my Jewish bubble,” he said. Benjamin Stern, only 17, is the founder and CEO of Nohbo, the world’s first single use water-soluble ball containing shampoo, and soon conditioner, body wash, and shaving cream. On April 26th, Stern skyped with the Entrepreneurship and Finance Club to discuss his experience managing a startup as a teenager.
- Original Inspiration: In his ninth grade biology class, Stern learned about how plastic waste affects our environment. Rather than reducing, reusing, or recycling, Stern saw replacing as the solution to the problem.
- Goal: To reduce plastic waste.
- How he started: “I had a lot of different ideas and inventions,” Stern said. “This one was just different because I saved money and and then contacted the Clorox company.” After connecting with Clorox to patent his product, Stern realized he needed more funds for the company to grow. He, like sixty-nine thousand other people with businesses, applied to Shark Tank; along with 179 others, he was accepted.
- Experience on Shark Tank: A big boost. Stern came into Shark Tank thinking that he would leave having sacrificed 40% equity in his company, but he was quickly proven wrong by the enthusiasm of the judges. Mark Cuban not only offered to be his mentor, but also offered him a fantastic deal of $100,000 in return for 25% equity in Nohbo.
- Working with Mark Cuban, a year later: Intense, but Cuban is “always open to hearing out ideas.” Stern emails Cuban every week, and he notes that Cuban is always there to talk.
- Main customers: Hotels. In the future, Stern hopes to expand his business to include consumers and charities.
- Competitors: Consumer Loreal, P&G, Cisco
- Fast facts:
- Stern has received over 60 offers for patent
- His company’s net worth is $160 million