Vibes, earplugs that lower decibel levels without sacrificing sound clarity, entered the Shark Tank in Season 8.
We interviewed owner and founder Jack Mann, who started the company after sustaining hearing loss at a concert and realizing that simple foam earplugs lessen sound quality. Each pair of Vibes includes three sizes of reusable ear tips to ensure a correct fit, a pocket-sized carrying case for easy storage and an outer sound tube that makes them almost invisible. Therefore, they are the ideal companion for concertgoers to make the most out of their experience.
Mann started the company with a partner, Mark, who died unexpectedly, so as a tribute to him, there is a philanthropic component to each pair purchased. “It was Mark’s vision to have a give-back program as central to what we do. So, our work with the Hear The World Foundation is based on his vision,” he explained. “We also try to honor him through the same energy and vision he had for really doing something significant to improve the concert experience.”
Here’s what else he told us about…
How the Idea Came About Through Hearing Damage
Back in 2014, I was close to a speaker at a concert and ended up rupturing my eardrum due to loud sound. Being a frequent concertgoer, I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again. So I looked for a solution and like most people, grabbed a pair of foam earplugs. After putting them in, I instantly realized they destroyed the sound quality and are not designed for music. So why have they been the go-to ear protection at concerts for decades? As I asked myself this question, I also started to do research on hearing damage during live events – although rupturing your eardrum like I did is very rare – hearing damage at concerts is not. According to the World Health Organization, 440 million people worldwide are at risk of hearing damage due to live entertainment – concerts, bars, night clubs, sporting events. Every time your ears ring it is a symptom of irreversible hearing damage. These two realizations, a world wide hearing health issue and a lack of product solutions or availability, are what inspired me to create Vibes.
How They Work
Unlike foam earplugs, Vibes filter acoustics, lowering decibel levels relatively equally from bass to treble. This is done though a special sound tube and sound-enhancing acoustic filters that balance and modify the sound waves properly. Whether at a concert, sporting event, festival, or any loud venue, this wearable tech allows you to hear the music exactly the way it was intended to be heard, only without the damaging decibels that cause your ears to ring and become damaged.
Partnership With Hear the World Foundation
We have pledged to give a percentage of our revenue to the work of Hear the World Foundation (HTW), which is an initiative of the world’s largest hearing aid producer – Sonova AG. HTW provides hearing health to the disadvantaged in 39 countries around the world by providing free hearing care to those in need. As we grow, our vision is to adopt one of their initiatives in a country and get members of the Vibes community to participate. We see the purchase of a pair of Vibes as a virtuous cycle – you can protect your own hearing while helping others protect theirs.
Thinking His ‘Tank’ Email Was Spam
I originally received an email from someone at Shark Tank saying they wanted to get on the phone and hear more about our business. Being in business only a few months, I literally thought it was spam. Of course, I called. They had seen our product on a music/lifestyle blog and thought it was interesting. We were then encouraged to apply, which was a very rigorous process. Before we knew it, we had a date to film – a real whirlwind.
Nerves in the ‘Tank’
Defending a business plan or making an investment pitch is nerve-racking in normal circumstances. Doing it with no notes, no slides, no pleasantries, on camera, in front of celebrity investors, on a national stage is a whole different ballgame. It was definitely the most intense experience of my life. With that said, it was an incredible learning experience and personal challenge on many levels – makes any business meeting from here on out seem like a breeze.