Imagine you’ve just left a dinner party, and you’ve had such a wonderful time you want to send the host a thank you note. But you’ve spent so much time lingering that, by the time you leave, all the stores are closed. That’s the situation that befell Felt co-founder Tomer Alpert and his wife Gracie. As they told Heavy, they grabbed their phones and searched for an online app. Although they existed, they lacked the personal touch. That desire for a more unique, electronic, and immediate thank-you note led them to create Felt. You can handwrite your message and send it right from your iPhone or iPad. Alpert will pitch Felt on Shark Tank Friday night.
But as CNBC revealed, it wasn’t easy for Felt to get onto the program. Alpert auditioned in 2013 and 2014. It wasn’t until he modified his pitch to emphasize the human aspect of the app that he won over producers. While he originally pitched the technology, he decided on the third time around to focus on the people who bought and loved the product.
“The first two auditions we did were very much product-focused. We were basically talking about how we built the app, the novelty of a digitally designed handwritten card and other things like that, which were mostly about the app itself.
“We saw that talking about the app wasn’t hitting the mark, so we went away from that and threw in more of our own personalities. Not only that, we also leaned into the story of our customers and how the users felt, how Felt helped them, and we brought that to life in a comedic way.”
Interestingly, Alpert said actually getting onto Shark Tank wasn’t what he expected. It’s unlike pitching to other investors because the panel is as much interested in creating good entertainment as they are finding good companies in which to sink their money.
— Felt App (@Feltapp) May 9, 2016
Alpert said their approach has changed, not just for Shark Tank, but for the company as a whole. Instead of pushing the app aspect, they have integrated humor into their marketing. They want to appeal to everyone who needs to send a message — and that message can be any tone the customer likes. They have promoted Felt by coming up with clever themes and ideas and broadcasting them through social media. Their custom-made Mother’s Day card — for mothers-in-law — was a big hit online.
— Felt App (@Feltapp) May 7, 2016
Winning over the showrunners is one thing. But does Felt get a shark investment? Apps tend to fall into that tricky Shark Tank category of “it depends.” Carter Matt noted that Felt has a “kindness” that is missing from your standard ecard. The site also said it represents a step back from technology, even if it is a technology product. That may have a certain unique appeal to consumers flooded with technology. Job candidates advised to send a thank you after an interview could potentially opt for Felt just because it helps them stand out.
Is “the human touch” investable? One of the most infamous Shark Tank deals, Christopher Gray’s Scholly, was around a scholarship app. But that deal was infamous because of the on-air scuffle that happened after Lori Greiner and Daymond John made a quick investment — not necessarily because the app was unique or innovative. It’s unclear whether Felt has that extra edge that would make the sharks want to take a chance.
Alpert could not reveal before the show whether he left with some extra shark money in his pocket. Felt will appear on Shark Tank Friday night starting at 9 p.m. on ABC.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]