A Pennsylvania Realtor’s® all-natural Shark Tank experience

By Kelly Leighton | Jan. 29, 2016 | 4 min. read

Pennsylvania Realtor® Jess Edelstein and her longtime best friend Sarah Ribner recently were awarded a $50,000 investment on ABC’s Shark Tank for their business, PiperWai, LLC.

Jess Edelstein
Jess Edelstein

Even if they were nervous during the show, you probably wouldn’t see them sweat. The duo behind PiperWai make their own natural deodorant, and were ready to sell it to the public. Shark Tank encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to present their ideas to five successful businesspeople, and see who is convinced to make an investment. Fortunately, “shark” Barbara Corcoran bit with a $50,000 investment for a 25 percent stake in the PiperWai.

It’s hard to believe for Edelstein, who created the initial deodorant concoction back in 2013 through research, trial and error in her kitchen using herself as a guinea pig.

“It was back when I was getting my real estate license and working as an assistant, so I had some extra downtime to experiment,” she said. “When I gave some to Sarah to try, she was impressed by how well it worked and convinced me to sell it. Since she’s my best friend and we’ve been business partners since our lemonade stand in elementary school, I told her I’d only go into business if she were my partner. We launched the business in early 2014.”

Edelstein and Ribner applied for the show through the online application process, which she described as “kind of long and complicated,” and the duo were consistently reminded by the casting directors and producing team assigned that nothing was guaranteed.

However, luck struck. “I think a combination of having a game-changing product with stellar reviews and a great cofounder story helped move us along in the process,” she said.

The “insane consumer demand” right after the appearance on Shark Tank took the business partners by surprise. “Being as severely back ordered as we are right now is technically a good problem to have, but a customer service nightmare. Sarah and I have personally answered over 15,000 emails since the show aired and about 300 emails, not including social media inquiries, are coming in every day asking for an updated ship date,” she said, noting that back orders are just as frustrating for them as consumers.

“We want people to try our product ASAP and are working as hard and as quickly as we can to increase production and prevent future back orders without compromising quality of the product,” she said.

Edelstein said they have received positive feedback for the product. “It’s a really surreal, amazing experience to have all these strangers from around the world saying that something I created with my best friend in my kitchen has changed their lives,” she said. “I don’t think people ever realized how passionate they can be about deodorant until they find one that really works.”

Currently, the pair is working on increasing production to prevent future back orders. The deodorant will still be available via their website and Amazon, but they hope to partner with other retail outlets, like Whole Foods. They are also working on a stick applicator for a release later this year hoping to expand their consumer reach even further, especially to men.

Before Shark Tank, Edelstein was splitting her time evenly between real estate and PiperWai. Right now, she is taking a break from real estate to ensure PiperWai grows. “I’m referring my leads to trusted colleagues until things calm down a bit. I had one settlement two weeks after Shark Tank for a deal I had already been working on for a while and I’m sharing a listing in February. I can’t imagine not keeping my license active no matter how big my business grows,” she said.

“I’ve had an incredible experience during the past two years I’ve been a licensed salesperson on Mark Wade’s centercity.com team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. I know if PiperWai didn’t exist, I’d still have a very fulfilling career,” she added.

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