Local 'Shark Tank' Entrepreneurs Aren’t the Only Ones Making a Splash

Main Line business owners have had quite a bit of success on the ABC show, but even more are impressing out of the spotlight.

Entrepreneurship is a topic with some serious legs right now. For proof, simply refer to the sustained popularity of the Emmy-winning series Shark Tank, which recently wrapped up its seventh season. Its can’t-miss formula offers aspiring CEOs the opportunity to pitch their products to a panel of high-profile investors. 

On the local front, incubators and think tanks for entrepreneurs are springing up in places like West Chester and Wayne. Now in its 16th year, The Entrepreneurs Network—based out of Villanova—continues to meet five times annually. TEN events feature round-table introductions, presentations by early-stage ventures, feedback from a panel of experts, and lots of networking. Each presenter has 10 minutes to make his/her case—no PowerPoint allowed.

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Late last year, Main Liners Jess Edelstein and Sarah Ribner made the Shark Tank cut with their all natural PiperWai deodorant, earning them a spot on an episode that aired this past December. They came away with a $50,000 investment for a 25-percent stake in their company from shark Barbara Corcoran. 

Hobart Rowland

PiperWai’s Jess Edelstein (left) and Sarah Ribner

Then there’s my West Chester-based real estate agent, Daniel Robins, whose patented Catch Caddy car organizer lost out for Shark Tank consideration to a similar product. Not that Robins and his partners, longtime friends Kelly O’Brien and Pat O’Donnell, let that slow them down. Since debuting in 2013, their product has sold 1.6 million units. 

Ingenious in its utter simplicity and usefulness, their accessory fits between a car’s front seat and the center console to retain and/or store anything that might find its way into that trouble spot, inadvertently or not. Sold for around $10 in sets of two, Catch Caddy can be found online and at Bed Bath & Beyond, among other places. “It’s been quite a journey from my initial sketches to the patent filing date in 2009 to product launch,” says Robins. “Holding that one idea in my hands for the first time was one of the most unique and incredible moments of my life.” 

It’s not just the Shark Tank types making a splash on the Main Line, as you’ll discover in our March cover story, which profiles 15 local entrepreneurs in a variety of fields—from software, mobile apps and Internet radio to credit cards, coffee and ballet flats. “Failures paved their way to success,” says associate editor Melissa Jacobs of the entrepreneurs she profiled. “Many who reach the top do so only to start all over again. For them, the bottom is where the fun is.”

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And there’s still plenty of room at the top, too.

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!