RokBlok on ‘Shark Tank’: A Look Inside the Mini Portable Box that Plays Vinyl Records

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RokBlok entered the Shark Tank with their mini wireless record player. It’s a small wooden box with a needle and built-in speaker that rides atop your record and spins around it. There is no need for a turntable, so you can play vinyls anywhere, and even connect to speakers or headphones to enhance sound quality.

We interviewed inventor Logan Riley, who told us that he’s pre-sold about 9,000 units to be shipped out on the second week of December. At the moment, they are only available on the company’s website, but will soon roll out in select Walmarts.

As for the future goal of the San Francisco-based company behind RokBlok, which Riley named Pink Donut, it’s to “create all types of things that are as awesome as they are random.”

Here’s what else he told us about…

How the Idea Came About

The idea of Rok Blok came together after a day of record shopping. I met some friends in a park after leaving a record store and was surprised that all of my friends were interested in what I got that day. All I wanted to do was to be able to play them that music on the vinyl right there and then, but I had no way to do that because we were in a park. And even if I wanted to, I couldn’t fit all of my friends in my small apartment. So I had an idea for a record player you could take with you.

What Makes His Product Different

First, RokBlok is the smallest record player available. In addition, it can play both 33⅓rpm records and 45rpm records, and it is the only portable record player that has both a built-in speaker and the ability to send its music to any Bluetooth speakers.

Advice for Future ‘Tank’ Contestants

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I think it would be helpful for future contestants to know their pitch front to back. The cameras, the crew and, ultimately, the overall experience can be overwhelming, and make it easy to stumble on lines. Practice a million times until you are reciting your pitch in your sleep. Additionally, I would also recommend having your numbers and metrics committed to memory, just link your pitch. The Sharks will chew you to shreds if they even sense that you are unclear about your numbers, business model or product’s marketability.

The Support of Kickstarter Backers

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Kickstarter was a whirlwind. As the campaign progressed, I learned that backers are genuinely rooting not just for their product, but for the maker’s overall success. RokBlok is going to be shipping a couple months later than we hoped, however our backers have been nothing but amazingly understanding and supportive even with this delay. I really enjoy sharing updates on progress and hearing their feedback and ideas.

The 1st Prototype & Researching a Vintage Model

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It took around six months to build the prototype. I did a lot of research and learned a lot about electrical engineering and industrial design at a public workshop in San Francisco, called TechShop. Later versions of my prototype were in part inspired by a record player called the SoundWagon. SoundWagon was made in the 70s and also rode on top of a record to play music. After building my prototype, I learned about SoundWagon’s legacy and ended up finding a SoundWagon to learn more from an build from. While at first I was devastated when I learned about SoundWagon as I honestly believed that I was the first person to attempt a top-riding record player. However, the things I learned from the SoundWagon ended up making RokBlok even better.

Other products from Shark Tank: