The human mind is unparalleled in creating innovative ideas. These ideas lead to impeccable inventions. However, sometimes these inventions can provide no positive value to the world. NoPhone is one such invention.
We are all aware of how smartphones have affected the world. While it offers unmatchable benefits, it does have a lot of negatives, too.
Firstly, smartphone addiction is real. According to multiple studies, US citizens spend 3.5 to 4.5 hours daily on their mobile devices.
This number increases for children and gamers significantly. For this reason, the NoPhone was made. So, what happened when the founders of NoPhone presented their business in front of the Shark Tank team?
Considering Shark Tank’s overall reputation, each individual is worth hundreds of millions investing money in profitable and innovative businesses.
Does that mean that the NoPhone device has no practical use? Or does it genuinely address and solve a problem found in this modern era?
Here’s everything you need to know:
- Company Name: NoPhone
- Product Offered: Fake Mobile Device
- Founder and When Founded: 2009, Chris Sheldon, Ingmar Larsen, Van Gould, and Ben Langeveldon
- Shark Tank Episode Aired: Season 7, Episode 28
- Investment Asked: $25K for 25% of the company
- Deal Closing: No deal offered by any Sharks
As the name suggests, the NoPhone isn’t a mobile device. But the founders still call it a phone. Let us explain.
NoPhone was designed to break the mobile device’s addiction. The device is hard plastic with no controls on it.
In fact, it doesn’t offer any functions (like keys, lenses, or apps). It is just a plastic cut into a rectangular shape depicting a phone. In other words, the NoPhone has no battery juice, is waterproof, and has no storage.
The company even produced a NoPhone Zero model, a lesser version of the NoPhone in black color and hard, rectangular plastic cut.
They even released a NoPhone Selfie version of the device, which has a mirror stuck in the hard black plastic, making it a selfie camera without capturing any real selfies.
NoPhone is the brainchild of entrepreneurs of Christ Sheldon and Van Gould. They presented their pitch on the famous “Shark Tank” show in 2016.
Every mobile device comes with several distinctive features in today’s modern world.
The NoPhone company’s motto is to create a device that only promotes socializing without the need to use a mobile device.
Ergo, it promotes real-life socializing between humans. Instead of talking on text messages or calls and spending time on social media, you can talk to people right before you.
As a result, this phone does not come with music, WiFi, a camera, a screen, or other features that a smartphone usually contains.
According to the founders Gould and Sheldon’s fundraising web page, the NoPhone is considered a technology-free solution to break the continuous mobile device addiction, allowing you to engage and socialize with the real world.
In fact, the NoPhone gained two successful fundings of more than $20,000 in 2014 and 2015 on Kickstarter.
A few people have carried this plastic device with them to dates and even to the movies, even though the so-called “smartphone” is absolutely humorous.
Moreover, the company has sold more than 4000 plastic phones and is labeled as simply the largest fake smartphone company ever made in the world.
When the team members, Steven and Sean, aren’t working in an ad firm based in New York, they pack and send NoPhone packages from their flat in NY.
But did the Sharks believe in their unique product? Did they agree to back this product and eliminate the phone addiction people had? Let’s find out:
When the entrepreneurs (Van Gould and Chris Sheldon) joined Shark Tank, they presented an equation of $25,000 for 25% of the NoPhone company’s equity. They started by describing how damaging has this phone addiction been for the world.
Furthermore, Van Gould strengthened his claims by referencing a published study describing that most US teenagers spent more than twenty hours daily on their mobile devices. People use their phones daily to complete their daily tasks.
Van and Chris decided to counter this problem with something productive (yet unproductive at the same time) by introducing NoPhone.
Chris Sheldon further explained that this phone is a dummy or fake phone for people addicted to smartphones.
Since it doesn’t have a screen, application, or battery to juice the device, people won’t be enticed to use it. According to the entrepreneurs, all an individual had to do was pick the NoPhone up and carry it anywhere they wanted.
They also said that the device has no guarantees or refunds and no purpose. The device was made to break an addiction. Moving forward with their pitch, both Van and Chris handed the product samples to the Sharks.
Van Gould gave Robert the NoPhone Selfie version with a mirror-like object. Lori, the other Shark, questioned the businessmen about the number of ‘fake’ devices they had already sold.
The pair informed that they had sold 3100 devices since the previous November of appearing in the show.
Chris and Van also revealed that most buyers bought the selfie version of the NoPhone device. This sounded like a scam to Kevin, making him angry. He asked if the pair were joking with them.
However, Van Gould confirmed that they wanted to grow their company and products. They revealed revenues that crossed the $41,000 mark since they began operating. In contrast to Kevin’s reaction, Robert felt delighted to hear this information.
Lori questioned the selling prices of their products in the mobile industry market. The regular NoPhone without any frills (at that time) cost $12, while the Selfie version of the NoPhone cost $18. Remember that the selfie version has a mirror upgrade in it.
The Shark, Kevin, said that even though the innovation concept was great, the device was of no worth to the world as this item provided no value. Daymond asked the pair of entrepreneurs if the device had a patent.
They told the Sharks that they had filed for the patent. Mark found this information useless as a hard piece of plastic protected by a patent sounded ridiculous. With that, he decided not to invest and was out.
Lori also found the business laughable and decided against investing money in it. Robert liked the concept behind the device but found the revenue limited to a small number.
All other Shark Tank investors decided the same and didn’t offer any deal to fund the company.
Van and Chris still didn’t find their product worthless and considered it the generation’s pet rock, backing a good movement.
Keep in mind that the NoPhone company entrepreneurs had raised more than $18,000, making it three times more than their financing objective.
They even scored a talk on TEDx about how a piece of plastic’s power can change the generation and the world for the better.
After the unsuccessful episode on the Shark Tank, the NoPhone products were featured in a Forbes article.
But still, the company thrived for a few years. The company’s official website displays comments from major publications that call the device TechCrunch.
According to Time Magazine, this device is a pleasure simulation, helping individuals break the cycle of continuous phone use. The website even had a $5 NoPhone Air, a piece of hard plastic, on sale.
People can buy the NoPhone device from the company’s Amazon account and get a t-shirt. NoPhone is also could be purchased at the company website.
The company’s valuation was $100,000 when it appeared on Shark Tank. However, the company’s current net worth isn’t available as they don’t publish their financial information.
But according to different sources, the company has a valuation of $1 million to (all the way) $15 million.
Keep in mind these sources aren’t confirmed or denied by the company. So, we can’t say if the information is accurate.
When it comes to business, the world would be delighted to know that the NoPhone company is still up and running.
If you check the latest sources, you will find that the company is selling a waterproof model of NoPhone with no battery and remains a non-addictive phone for the users.
This device comes without a plan. The company has also introduced new products like the Family Plan, NoPhone Air, and employee gift bundle.
So, is NoPhone worth it? For some individuals, the concept may be enticing and effective enough to break their phone-using addiction. However, many still believe that the device puts forward no practical use and offers no value.