Mark Aramli’s dive into ABC’s hit business reality show Shark Tank was an entrepreneur’s worst nightmare. The former NASA engineer spent a year and a half and his entire net worth plus some in developing the BedJet, a smartphone-controlled, cooling and heating device for beds. He pitched his product in a February 2015 episode, seeking $250,000 in exchange for 10% of his Newport, R.I. company. Sales kicked off sales two days after his segment aired but the product was still in the prototype phase when he taped the segment.
Unfortunately, all five celebrity investors shot it down. They thought he was rude and arrogant. They even insulted his mother during the taping but it was edited out. They told him the BedJet was doomed to failure even though it had received $75,000 in pre-orders on Kickstarter, a crowdfunding site.
“I just don’t like the vibe,” said Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. “I don’t think you have all the pieces to go forward.”
Real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran didn’t think the Bedjet would sell because it doesn’t fit under high-end upholstered beds. O’Leary Ventures founder Kevin O’Leary said the $499 price tag was catastrophically high and the night staff at bed stores would use it to wash carpets because they don’t know it is.
“The product is dead already,” said O’Leary, inciting laughter from Corcoran and Cuban.
Computer security titan Robert Herjavec liked the product and thought the price point was fine but had reservations because Aramli continued his sales pitch when he was asked a question about the technology. QVC queen Lori Greiner lambasted him for ignoring her questions.
“If you valued me, you would have answered my questions,” she said. Greiner tweeted “1st time I was ever really pissed off by an entrepreneur in the tank! #badtoberude.”
Aramli tried to salvage the pitch by talking about the retailers that have shown interest. Herjavec and Cuban cut him off, reminding him they were all out and that he blew his shot at a deal.
But the BedJet turned into a dream come true. It flew off the shelves, totaling $3 million in sales in its first 18 months on the market. It retails at Amazon.com, BedJet.com, Brookstone, a few Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) stores and events held by Mattress Firm. With a QVC deal in the works, Aramli projects 2016 sales to reach $3 million, a mind blowing 300% spike over 2015. Had the Sharks invested, they would have nearly quadrupled their money within 18 months of the airing, Aramli says.
Aramli explains how he developed the BedJet and how his nightmare in the Shark Tank became a dream come true.
Ky Trang Ho: How does Bedjet work? What key features distinguish it from other products?
Mark Aramli: The BedJet is the world’s first ultra-fast cooling, heating and climate comfort system made just for your bed at home. It installs on any size bed and gives you on-demand cooling or deep warmth via remote control or via Bluetooth from your phone. You will never wake up hot and sweaty and never get into a chilly cold bed wrapped up pajamas.
BedJet has a proprietary night-sweat management mode that is proven to remove body sweat from the bed and keep you more comfortable. The BedJet Dual Zone option solves the age-old problem of married couples with different sleep temperature preferences. You can have half the bed crisply cooled and the other half tropical warm.
Sleeping on an Idea
Ho: How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Aramli: BedJet was a concept I had going back 15 years ago and just never did anything with it. The trigger for me deciding to build a prototype and test the idea out was seeing my mother stuck in bed after surgery for a few weeks.
She lived in drafty 100-year-old Connecticut home, and we were constantly adjusting things to make her more comfortable. Electric blankets, heating pads, space heaters – everything was either too hot, too cold, or too many wires in the bed. I realized there has got to be a better way.
Ho: How long did it take for you to develop it?
Aramli: 1.5 years. This was 14 months of formal development after the company was “launched” and four months of informal tinkering before I ever really decided to turn BedJet into a product.
Ho: Who is the target market for your product?
Aramli: The BedJet does especially well with married couples with have different sleep temperature preferences and menopausal women, who suffer from night sweats and hot flashes. Cancer patients on chemotherapy, who sweat at night, MS (multiple sclerosis) patients, with thermal regulation problems, and athletes also get great benefit. We just sold 15 BudJets directly to the New York Jets.