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'Shark Tank' contestant Nubrella is overcoming 'dorky' factor

Alan Kaufman with a Nubrella
Source: Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman with a Nubrella

Alan Kaufman, whose company, Nubrella, creates hands-free umbrellas, had no issues getting attention when he appeared on "Shark Tank." Panelist Barbara Corcoran called Kaufman's design "an attention-getter" and her fellow sharks laughed when he first displayed the product on the show. After a few witty remarks by the sharks, Kaufman convinced Kevin Harrington and Daymond John that the Nubrella had potential, and they made a deal.

Here's what happened after the show aired, and how Kaufman has updated the design.

How did you come up with the idea?

Many years ago while sitting in a coffee shop in New York City on a miserable rainy and very windy day, I began to take notice how everyone was struggling with their umbrellas. I also noticed the pained expressions of workers and bike riders wearing solely a raincoat and hood. It was at that minute an image appeared in my mind of what an alternative weather protection device could be. I immediately sketched it. It was on that day Nubrella was born.

Was there any scene that didn't make it onto air?

Something aired that I did not realize I said and hurt Nubrella after airing. On the show I mentioned I had found a new manufacturing partner and I could sell Nubrella at $29.99. Well since we filmed the show in August of 2009 and during the time before my episode aired (February 4, 2010) that manufacturer had to raise our cost so we could not sell Nubrella at $29.99, and that caused a lot of conflict and problems.

What has it been like to work with Daymond and Kevin?

We never ended up completing the deal/investment. After airing, Kevin did some due diligence and realized it wasn't really a good infomercial product due to the price point. That was his business, so he didn't have anything else to offer. Daymond never had any intentions in investing yet thought he could make a connection with a larger existing consumer product company to help license the product. From what I remember, he tried to talk with one company—not even that related to outdoor gear weather industry who turned out wasn't interested.

What has been the impact of being on "Shark Tank?"

Being on "Shark Tank" gave Nubrella tremendous exposure. It helped put Nubrella on the map. After the show, we did receive like everyone else a (flurry) of orders. Also I know the show was syndicated to many other countries and we would get orders when it aired internationally. So overall it was a tremendous opportunity to be on the show and well worth it.

What have you been up to since your last update?

After selling over 15,000 units in 81 countries and all 50 states we received significant feedback from our customers. Nubrella's design and engineering firm and I took this feedback and began to relook at Nubrella to see how it could be improved to meet customer requests. After all, no one gets it right the first time.

Although our initial bubble-like design did provide complete wind-proof protection and hands-free capability, we learned that being in the bubble was overkill. After several years, new concepts and ideas, we finally came up with clever idea to wear Nubrella like a backpack and simply function it like a hood.

Finally we addressed the "dorky" factor of being enclosed in a bubble. Now Nubrella actually looks so cool. Just about everyone who has seen it sees it as so natural. They ask: "Why hasn't this been done before?" So we turned a negative into a positive.

I just returned from China in November successfully sourcing a new manufacturing partner. We currently have many customers, international resellers and B2B opportunities eagerly waiting. We are now seeking our first round of outside capital and seeking a "seed" capital raise. Our investment opportunity can be seen at www.fundable.com/nubrella

Tuesdays have more bite with back-to-back episodes of "Shark Tank" on CNBC every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. & 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Meet the Sharks

  • Mark is the highly successful entrepreneur and investor who founded HDNet, Broadcast.com and MicroSolutions.

  • Barbara Corcoran parlayed a $1,000 loan into a five-billion-dollar real estate business.

  • Lori Greiner started with one idea and turned it into a multi-million dollar international brand.