Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Out of the Pool and Sitting Pretty Cellhelmet's Founders May Not Have Scooped Up the Reality Show's Prize, but Their Winnings on the outside Have Made Up for That

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Out of the Pool and Sitting Pretty Cellhelmet's Founders May Not Have Scooped Up the Reality Show's Prize, but Their Winnings on the outside Have Made Up for That

Article excerpt

After months of anticipation, audition videos and made-for-TV sales pitches, the Cellhelmet iPhone Case failed to float to the top of ABC's "Shark Tank."

But if you ask the Greensburg-based company's founders about their appearance on the reality show a week later, it would be hard to tell they didn't come out as winners.

"It's funny. We keep getting these emails saying, 'I'm so sorry things didn't work out for you,' but things really did work out for us. We got the word out about the product to millions of people and I'll take that any day," said Mike Kane, cofounder and CEO.

"In fact we're sitting prettier now than we ever were before."

Mr. Kane and his cofounder David Artuso didn't get the $160,000 investment they sought from Shark Tank, a competition show where emerging entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of self-made moguls who are willing to dig into their own pockets for the right venture.

However, the team scored a win with Eldridge Communications the moment they returned from filming the show in September.

The North Hills-based Verizon Wireless premium retailer entered a partnership with Cellhelmet that gives Mr. Kane and his team an undisclosed investment and a distribution deal that will make the product available through Eldridge's stores. Eldridge has 15 Verizon Wireless locations in western and central Pennsylvania.

Mr. Kane said Cellhelmet hasn't made any major moves for hiring or expansion since the investment, but the funding will certainly help the staff keep up with a tsunami of new orders. Since the TV show aired last Friday, more than 200 stores from across the country reached out to the company and direct orders for the iPhone cases have more than doubled.

"We had sold 1,300 units to [online] end consumers leading up to the show," he said.

"We sold 1,300 units in the past 24 hours. It's unreal compared to what we did in 2012."

Mr. Kane said it might have been for the best that Shark Tank's panel of expert entrepreneurs soundly rejected the idea of the damage-resistant iPhone case that comes with insurance for a broken phone. Cellhelmet began selling the $49. …

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