Mensch on a Bench stole our holiday hearts on Shark Tank. The Jewish version of Elf on the Shelf, the plush doll/book combo secured a deal with Lori and Robert in Season 6.
Back then, we interviewed creator Neal Hoffman, who told us the idea came about because of his children’s holiday pleas. “Every December we go through the December Dilemma of my son wanting Christmas items in our home,” he said. “When he asked for an elf, my first thought was, ‘No, because we are Jewish.’ But after thinking about it for a second, I didn’t want to say ‘No,’ I wanted to come up with an alternative.” The show did a follow-up with him in November, and we interviewed him again right before the holiday season. He told us he was working on new items such as an app, activity kits, and candy bars
As the brand goes Beyond the Tank, we caught up with Hoffman, the man behind the Mensch, once again. When asked to give us a glimpse into the episode he said:
One of the issues I am having as I move forward with Mensch is how quickly do we expand and in what direction. We filmed our episode during our annual product review with Robert to get his insights and recommendations. I can’t tell you what happened, but can say that one-on-one Robert is tough, fair and determined. He cuts right to the heart of the issue and made me realize there was a better way to approach my business. I can say that this will be the year of the female Mensch. If you want to learn more…you’re going to have to watch.
Hoffman assured us that Lori and Robert are still very much a part of the Mensch family, providing different viewpoints and skills sets. The former corporate toy brand manager considers himself lucky for their continued support and guidance.
The company’s tremendous growth has been fun for him to watch, and he said:
Before Shark Tank only 2,000 families had Mensches, now we have over 100,000 families creating new traditions together using the Mensch. It has been amazing to see the Jewish community rally around us!
As for last Hanukkah season, Hoffman was happy to report that it was a success. “The Mensch app with Elf Yourself was a huge hit and people flocked to our Mensch Munch candy bars! The social media on Mensch on a Bench was incredible! It was hilarious and heartwarming to see all the different ways that families incorporate Mensches into their lives.”