Pavlok Before Shark Tank
CEO of Pavlok Maneesh Sethi has been an internet entrepreneur from the tender age of 12 when he started a web design company called “StandardDesign.” At 16, Sethi wrote and published the book Game Programming for Teens, and appeared on TechTV doing segments on video game programming. Since that time, Sethi has raised $5,000 for a charity in 2011, which provided Rajasthan, a large state in India, with electricity and internet connectivity for its public schools. He was not finished being an author. In 2010, he capitalized on the Life Hack craze with a book on aversion therapy called Hack the System. Sethi even placed a Craigslist ad to have someone slap his face when he got distracted from work – and paid the woman who responded to do it. In 2014, Sethi invented the product that would land him on the season finale of Shark Tank – Pavlok. The bad habit breaking device was supported by Angel investors and made 5x its goal on Indiegogo. Would the Shark’s be interested in this compelling wearable? Let’s take a look.
Pavlok on Shark Tank
Maneesh walked out into the Shark Tank and onto the stage. He introduced himself to the Sharks and requested $500,000 in exchange for 3.14% of his company. The Sharks all looked shocked, and Robert looked amused and exclaimed that it was Pi Day. Maneesh said that he understood that everyone had bad habits ranging from relatively benign, such as nail-biting, to more harmful practices. He stated that his invention, Pavlok, was able to track and fix bad habits. Maneesh explained that when a user performs a bad habit, they will press the red button on this device, and it would emit a small electric shock. The Sharks all burst into laughter, and Maneesh looked upset. He told them that they could laugh, but it was a dangerous thing.
Maneesh said that Pavlok dispensed a minor electric shock that was able to break bad habits by retraining your brain. He claimed that it “harnessed scientific methods” that have been well-researched and experimented for decades. Maneesh stated that since it’s launch, many users have been very successful in changing their bad behaviors. He ended his presentation by asking the Sharks who wanted to aid him in helping users all over the world change their behavior.
Lori asked him how he was able to come up with the idea. Maneesh told her that he had severe ADHD, which made him unable to finish projects or get essential work done. He came up with an interesting way to change his behavior – he paid someone to sit next to him, and slap him in the face every time he went on FaceBook. The Sharks looked incredulous, but he told them that he wrote a blog post about it, which went viral. Robert asked him if it worked. Maneesh said that it did, which inspired the Pavlok. Robert wanted to try it, but Maneesh wanted to explain the science behind it before he passed it out.
Maneesh called the science behind Pavlok “Aversive conditioning,” which was popular during the 1960s. He explained it as a light shock that went off when a bad habit was performed and helped to train the “reptile brain” to avoid that pattern in the future. It used the Pavlovian principle, which Maneesh explained as your brain retreating from two stimuli occurring at the same time. Wikipedia describes this as
Maneesh began to pass out samples to each Shark starting with Robert. Each Pavlok had the Shark’s name engraved on the piece. Robert put his on and said that he liked the design of the device. Maneesh instructed Robert to push down hard on the lightning bolt on the top of the Pavlok. Robert described the shock as a little pulse, and Maneesh explained that he set it low initially because he did not want the Sharks to get scared off. Barbara asked if he could turn it up, and Maneesh did so from his phone. Several of the Sharks jumped up, and Kevin yelled out curses as he got shocked. Barbara asked him to turn it back down. Lori said that she could barely feel it, but it seemed like she was just bragging.
Maneesh stated that they based their research on a study that was done in 1988, and handed Mark a pamphlet that outlined the 21 clinical trials that he performed with the Pavlok device. Robert said that he had a nail biting problem, and he wasn’t sure that he would have the discipline to shock himself every time that he performed the behavior. Would that affect his ability to stop? Maneesh asked him if the nail biting was an issue for him, and if he wanted to stop. Robert said that there was still a big disconnect for him, and Mark cut in as he was reading through the pamphlet, stating that it’s all nonsense.
Robert said that he couldn’t get around having to push the buzzer himself. He asked Maneesh why Lori couldn’t just do it for him. Maneesh let him know that that was possible – the app functioned as a remote control, and there was automation available as well. Mark asked when the device doesn’t work and Maneesh replied that it wouldn’t work if the user did not want it to work. Mark declared sarcastically that it was a surprise. Maneesh said that if you use Pavlok to curb your sugar cravings, you will start to notice that the flavor doesn’t taste as good. Mark switched from sarcasm to outright aggression. He called Maneesh a con artist, which of course Maneesh denied. He claimed that a large percentage of the apps users broke the bad habit in 7 days or less.
Kevin asked Mark to leave the skepticism off for a minute, as Mark talked about him and said that you wouldn’t be able to see results in five days. Maneesh accused Mark of not knowing what he was talking about. Kevin yelled at them, demanding to know why Maneesh was worth his $15 million valuation. Maneesh said that his sales were high – he had $800,000 in preorders. Lori called him out on the preorders when he was talking about established users getting results. Maneesh clarified that ¾ of users he mentioned were from preorders, with the remaining users having prototypes. Barbara wanted to know what these people were paying for the Pavlok. Maneesh told the Sharks that each device cost $200, and the Sharks again looked shocked.
Robert asked who the primary purchasers were, and Maneesh listed the top four bad habits as nail biting, eating, waking up too late, and sitting too long. This diversification allowed Maneesh to discover great integrations for the product. The first one he tried was an alarm clock, which zaps the user awake. Barbara joked that it was an excellent way to start the day. Maneesh described it as the only alarm clock that works because it wakes the user up with a shot of adrenaline. Mark asked the other Sharks how they could be so gullible. He stated that he was not disputing the idea of aversion therapy, but he was concerned that Pavlok did not use their research. There was a flurry of drama as Robert accused Mark of pretending to be the smartest guy in the room, and Mark called all the other Sharks stupid for believing that the Pavlok was legitimate.
Maneesh brought his hands to his face in exasperation and accused them of making his ADD flare up. He again tried to target Mark, and the other Sharks informed him that it was a lost cause. Mark again said that aversion therapy is a legitimate thing, but what Maneesh was trying to do was to take other studies that scientists have done, and apply those to the Pavlok. Maneesh said that the pamphlet contained citations for other studies. Lori asked where his independent studies were, and Maneesh insisted that his studies were from the Pavlok users themselves. Lori asked him where his proof was, wanting to know what study he had that laid all the data out. She asked Maneesh why he did not perform clinical trials, and Maneesh did not have a satisfactory answer. Lori went out.
Barbara said that his presentation was “exhausting and complicated.” She went out, saying that she would not want to work with him. Maneesh tried to speak up, but Robert cut in. He said that at first, he liked the idea of habit-breaking, but he was not a fan of the high valuation, particularly as it was only based on preorders. He went out before Maneesh could respond. Maneesh said that he understood, and thanked Robert for his time. Mark stated that Maneesh should’ve taken his preorder money to a university to do actual clinical trials on the Pavlok instead of using second-hand research to spout nonsense. Mark accused Maneesh of going over the top when he did not have the data to back it up. Mark went out.
Maneesh tried to answer Lori’s question, but Kevin reminded him that every Shark except Kevin himself was out. Kevin told Maneesh to shock himself for talking out of turn and said that he was hard to listen to because he was all over the place. Kevin followed up by saying that he had an undergraduate degree in Psychology, and he was interested in the Pavlok. This declaration had Mark shaking his head looking pained. He stated that he knew the technology worked, but the valuation was not worth the consideration. Kevin told Maneesh that he would loan him the $500,000, which would be paid back in 2 years with 7.5% interest. The 3.14% equity would still stand. Kevin said that if Maneesh’s number were correct, he could accomplish that quickly.
Maneesh appeared to consider. Robert told him that it was an offer, and he should consider it. Maneesh said he had an issue – he was not focused on the money. Kevin informed him that he was at the wrong place if that was the case. Maneesh said that his biggest goal was to break bad habits worldwide. He declared that he was unable to work with Mr. Wonderful. Barbara asked if it was because he did not like him, but Maneesh dismissed that idea. He just said that Kevin would be a poor match for the company. Maneesh stated that he would take an offer from any of the other Sharks, just not Kevin O’Leary. Kevin paused, and then the censors had to take over as he told Maneesh in no uncertain terms to get the f*** out. Maneesh asked again if they were all out, and Kevin cursed at him again.
Maneesh walked offstage and said that he felt a little regret for rejecting the deal. He still felt like the company was working towards a higher purpose than just the almighty dollar. Mark told Kevin that he felt that Maneesh was going to do that to one of the Sharks, regardless of how things turned out. Mark again called him a con artist, and Kevin still, surprisingly, insisted that the technology had promise. Mark informed him that it was not about the technology, but rather Maneesh as a person. It was the right clip to use to end Season Seven.
Pavlok Now In 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
Maneesh might have left the tank without a deal but that doesn’t mean that it was all a failure. For one thing, the show gave his company a significant amount of exposure. Before he knew it, their user base had grown to 10,000, which was a huge increase from what they had before Shark Tank.
In need of funding, he went on to create an Indiegogo campaign shortly after the episode aired. More specifically, the campaign was to raise funds for the Shock Clock, an alarm clock that uses sensory stimuli (vibrations, beeps and zaps) to help you wake up. And with the help of 2,335 backers, he was able to raise more than $293,000, which was more than enough to bring the project to life.
A year later, he launched a new crowdfunding campaign for the Pavlok 2. Similar to the original, it’s designed to reward good behavior with beeps, vibrations, and electric impulses. And the campaign was yet another success; he was able to raise more than $157,000 with the help of 1,308 backers. The product was subsequently released in the fall of 2017 and the last that we checked, it’s still available from their website.
Their next project, the Shock Clock 2, eventually came out in 2018, after another successful round of crowdfunding on Indiegogo, which raised more than $30,000. It’s currently available for $149.99.
Fast forward to 2022 and they’ve launched another crowdfunding campaign—one for the Shock Clock 3. Not only does it vibrate, beep, and give electric zaps, but it can also be used with QR codes- that way, you must get out of bed to turn off the alarm. For those who are interested, the campaign is still active as of this writing. So far, they’ve raised more than $143,000 with the help of 1,324 backers. According to their updates page, they have already started shipping out the first units.
They’ve also released a new version of the Pavlok, which was made possible by another successful Indiegogo campaign—one that raised more than $375,000. Known as the Pavlok 3, it tracks your activity, steps, sleeping patterns, and more; it can also be attached to smartwatches like the Fitbit and Apple Watch. Available in three colors (black, rose gold, and silver), it can be purchased from their official website for $219.99.
In addition to that, they also offer accessories such as bands, charging cables, and watch clips.
As of August 2022, the company makes more than $600,000 in annual sales.