Imagine a world in which young children viewed the essential function of hand-washing as something to be looked forward to.
Not as a chore, or a thing to be done half-heartedly and under protest, but a process to be pursued with enthusiasm and with vigor.
This unlikely scenario was made possible when two enterprising young Indian nationals called Amarat Anand and Shubham Issar hit upon the idea of creating a colorful soap that doubled up as a crayon, thereby actually encouraging children to draw on their hands as a prelude to washing them clean.
All due diligence was done in terms of incorporating only ingredients which would not cause harm to a child’s tender skin whilst effectively performing the role for which it was intended.
When the two former design school students made their pitch to a panel of investors at Shark Tank they had all the answers to any such concerns.
They had already raised over $28,000 through the UNICEF challenge and a successful Kickstarter campaign, and their product was on sale through Amazon.
At a Glance
The two girls wanted $100,000 for 10% equity in their company SoaPen Inc., which at the time was valued at $1 million.
The Sharks were all impressed by the product and by the enterprising zeal of Amarat and Shubham, but some felt it was not for them.
Some had concerns about their sales and marketing strategy and felt they were too early into their company’s development and still had work to do. Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Robert Herjavec, and Lori Greiner all politely declined.
But to the pleasant surprise of the applicant, guest Shark Nirav Tolia, having originally decided against being involved, had a change of heart and offered $100,000 for 10% equity plus a $1 royalty for each unit sold until $200,000 had been recovered.
Who are the Founders?
Amarat and Shubham traveled all the way to the USA for their appearance on Shark Tank.
The girls attended Parsons School of Design together where they each studied for their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
For a few months thereafter Amarat worked at ASH NYC in production and logistics whilst Shubham was a fabricator at Stand & Build, but in 2015 the two friends went into business together with SoaPen.
They have now extended their product line by introducing a child-friendly hand sanitizer gel.
Did SoaPen Get a Deal on the Show?
Although initially, all the investors were reluctant to support the company at so early a point in its development, the guest Shark Nirav Tolia relented and accepted their request for $100,000 in exchange for 10% equity, albeit with the added proviso that a $1 per unit royalty would be paid until $200,000 had been recouped.
Tolia told the girls that his wife would help with the marketing side of the project.
What Happened to the Entrepreneurs After the Show?
Today SoaPen sells both soap and hand sanitizer products through its own online store as well as through Amazon.
It has also launched what it calls its “SoaPen Potty Training Book Bundle” a pack of three books which sells at $24.99.
In 2022 the company was said to have a net worth in the region of $2 million.
About the Product
The SoaPen concept is all about making a routine but necessary chore seem like fun. Children often recoil from washing their hands, even though it is essential for their own health and hygiene.
With this product, they can draw faces and pictures onto their hands before washing it off with water, whereupon it adopts the function of a soap.
Furthermore, it is made with ingredients that are proven to be child-friendly and do not aggravate the skin.
The soap even comes in three appealing colors which are named Berry Blast, Fresh Pear and Tangy Tangerine.
Containing water and propanediol, the product does not use phathalates or SLS. Retailing at $17.99 per pack of three, each unit includes 33ml of soap.
Acting upon advice received during their pitch, the two entrepreneurs have boosted their social media presence and run a lively Instagram account.
Some Interesting Facts
Even SoaPen’s website has a child-facing, fun feel to it. There is a simple, illustrated four-stage set of instructions to follow which begins by instructing users to draw on their hands.
The website also features a blog, which is frequently updated with fresh content thereby bringing in chance visitors who are then introduced to the company’s products.
A newsletter is sent out to subscribers which keeps its customer base in touch and interacting with the firm.
Although Amarat’s and Shubham’s clients are grateful parents it is easy to envision their young children driving the demand for this popular product.
It is pitched intelligently in a way that will clearly appeal to both.