Chubby Buttons

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Chubby Buttons Shark Tank Update

Chubby Buttons

Mark Furr

This post contains affiliate links, and we may be compensated if you buy something after clicking on our links.

Chubby Buttons is a wearable Bloothtooth remote with extra large buttons which can be used to control your smartphone in ski gloves, riding gloves, or in any environment in which you can’t stop to play with the controls on your smartphone. But, will the Sharks see big value in these oversized control buttons? Check out our Chubby Buttons Shark Tank update to learn all about it. 

What is Chubby Buttons?

Chubby Buttons is a company which produces a wearable, stickable, Bluetooth remote, with buttons large enough that you can use it to control your smartphone in ski gloves, riding gloves, or in any environment in which your hands are occupied so that it would be difficult to use the controls on your smartphone. The company is located in Brooklyn, New York.

Chubby Buttons was originally designed with skiers in mind, but it has been adopted by motorcyclists, sailors, bicyclists, jet skiers, and even pilots. Cooks and others who work with their hands have also begun using Chubby Buttons, as it is great for anyone who wants to be able to control their smartphone, even when they are messy, or if they are busy with their hands.  

Who created Chubby Buttons?

Chubby Buttons Founders

Chubby Buttons was created by Mike Cherkezian and Justin Barad, best friends who have known each other since they were 13 years old. Mike attended college at Boston College, where he earned a BA degree in Communications and Mathematics. After graduating from university, Mike started his professional career in the Finance sector, working in data analysis, and he has worked in progressively senior positions in data analytics for 17 years in New York. 

Justin Barad attended college at New York University, graduating with a BA in Chemistry. Justin next went to Israel to study for a Medical degree at Tel Aviv University; however, after two years, he left medical school, and he returned to New York, where he started his professional career as a Staffing Manager and Physician Recruitment Consultant. Prior to founding Chubby Buttons, Justin also worked in several Business Development positions. 

How did Chubby Buttons get started?

Chubby Buttons co-founders Mike Cherkezian and Justin Barad have been best friends since they were 13 years old, went to high school together, and they also went on a number of trips together. Mike told the Harvest Growth podcast, that while on a ski trip to Colorado, he liked to listen to music while skiing, but he said:

“When I’d have my earbuds in, and I’d have my phone in my pocket, and I’d have my gloves on, there was a lot of friction with me taking my glove off, digging into my pocket, making sure I don’t drop a pole off a chair lift. After one or two runs, it got a little bit annoying for me and for my friends.” He remembers being on the lift and telling Justin that he wished that he had a big, fat button to control his phone. After he said this, Mike recalls, “I think we looked at each other. We had a light bulb moment. It was a really funny moment.”

When they returned from the ski trip, despite the fact that they were both working full time jobs, and neither Mike nor Justin had any experience in product design, they decided to work nights and weekends to see if they could figure out how to make the big, fat phone control button which they had imagined. 

Justin told the Harvest Growth podcast, “We knew what we had to get to. We needed a prototype and so we were working together. A design was mocked up, and once the visuals were there, we brought it to a mechanical engineer who turned it into a 3D printed prototype. We had a piece of plastic, and we’re like, ‘All right, cool. That looks nice.’ Then, we contacted someone that was an electrical engineer and had a very bare-bones version of the printed circuit board.”

Next, they made a prototype, and once they understood all of the pieces necessary to build their product, they decided to find out where they made those things in China. They spent several weeks making calls to manufacturers in China, and then over their Thanksgiving break, they flew to China and spent two weeks there, interviewing manufacturers. It took about a year and a half from the time that they came up with the idea to have their first 5,000 units shipped to the US.

What happened to Chubby Buttons before Shark Tank?

When Chubby Buttons first launched, co-founders Mike Cherkezian and Justin Barad had visualized a  fairly niche market for the product, marketing it to the ski and snowboard industry; however, they were surprised when motorcyclists found their way to it. Aside from being surprised, they thought it was funny that they hadn’t thought about mountain bikers and those involved in other adventure sports.

Chubby Buttons purchasers started to send in photos of videos of themselves using the product in different settings, and this led to a successful social media campaign utilizing this user-generated content. The social media led to the company’s first milestone, selling out their initial order of 5,000 units. 

Mike also told the Harvest Growth podcast that aside from selling out their first order, when Chubby Buttons was included in gift bags for the X Games, “That felt really validating because that organization recognized that our product was something that would resonate with professional athletes who are doing sports. I think that felt very exciting.”

How did Chubby Buttons develop before Shark Tank?

Along with the early success, the company also suffered a setback, like many products, after their initial launch, Chubby Buttons learned about some improvements which were needed for the product, so they decided to release Chubby Buttons 2.0. However, when the 2.0 version was released, they had a problem with the firmware. They learned that it wasn’t working with some Android devices, a good number of them, a particular smartphone. 

Fortunately, Mike and Justin had decided to include a serial number and a little card with each new Chubby Buttons 2.0; the card said, “Register your product, enter a chance to win a $250 Amazon gift card.” Most people had registered their new device, and this allowed the company to quickly enlist some beta testers, and then release firmware updates for all new users. Thus, out of a potential problem, the company learned how to provide prompt solutions for their customers. 

Prior to pitching to the Sharks, Chubby Buttons had been in business for about three years, and in 2021, they had sales of $500k, while in 2022, their sales were $600k. It appeared that Chubby Buttons was on the right track, and was looking for a Shark to add fuel to the fire. 

What do customers think of Chubby Buttons?

Chubby Buttons are sold online both through the company website and on Amazon. We looked at Amazon for customer reviews, and we found 1,007 ratings, with an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. 86% of reviewers gave Chubby Buttons 4 or 5 stars while 6% rated the product at just one star. Chubby Buttons is also listed as an Amazon’s Choice product.

Chubby Buttons Product

What are customers saying about Chubby Buttons?

With such a high rating, we found many positive reviews for Chubby Buttons, with most Amazon customers pleased that the product works exactly as advertised. 

One recent, verified Amazon purchaser wrote, “I certainly wish I got this sooner, along with my wireless earbuds, for skiing and snowboarding. Taking off your glove when it’s cold sucks, and you risk losing your glove and phone. This is a little pricey, but I haven’t seen anything like it to compete. So far so good!”

Another satisfied Chubby Buttons user commends both the product and the company’s customer service: 

“Product does what it describes. Easy to use. The large format buttons make it easy to navigate. U.S.A company! The CEO answers email directly and is very transparent and honest. 10/10, I have recommended this, and I own two of these: one lives in my suitcase, and the other stays at home.”

Most of the critical comments we found concerning Chubby Buttons were from consumers who thought that the product was overpriced, but we also found a few comments from purchasers who had problems with the product. 

One disappointed Chubby Buttons purchaser wrote, “My Chubby Buttons worked great for 3 months. Then it stopped working. I tried replacing the battery. Still did not work. A waste of $80.”

Another critical reviewer was a bit frustrated with the inconsistent performance of the product: “When it works it’s great! Volume and track change buttons work well with no issues. The play/pause button only works sometimes. Quite frequently I have to disconnect and reconnect or unpair and pair again to get them to work.”

Overall, with the vast majority of reviewers posting glowing reviews, Chubby Buttons appears to fill a need in the market, and the product is well liked by many users. 

When did Chubby Buttons appear on Shark Tank?

Chubby Buttons appeared on Shark Tank in Season 14, Episode 17, which aired on March 17th, 2023. The company pitched to regular Sharks Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, and Robert Herjavec. 

Chubby Buttons was not the only wearable adventure sports accessory to appear in the Tank in Season 14. Check out our Surf Band Pro Shark Tank update to read about another innovative adventure sports gadget.

What happened to Chubby Buttons on Shark Tank?

Chubby Buttons co-founders Mike Cherkezian and Justin Barad  entered the Tank and asked the Sharks for a $250k investment in return for 8% of their company.

When the Chubby Buttons co-founders entered the Tank, Mike was on skis and outfitted in full ski apparel, including heavy ski gloves. Justin began by introducing himself, and then saying, “Sharks meet Mike, Mike meet the Sharks.” Mike did not respond to this introduction, looking a bit dazed.

Then, when Mike realized that he was being addressed, he loudly said, “Sorry, I have my earbuds in. Let me just pause this.” Mike then goes through a farcical routine of taking his glove off, dropping it, then dropping his earbud, and having difficulty retrieving these things because he is on skis. 

After watching Mike’s performance, Justin addressed the Sharks and said, “You see, every time Mr Mikey struggles over here, this is the hilarity that ensues, but now, with our invention, Mike struggles no more.” Justin then pulls off a cloth cover from the sleeve of Mike’s ski jacket to unveil their new product, Chubby Buttons. 

Mike then tells the Sharks, “With Chubby Buttons, I have total control over all of the essential functions of my smartphone while I have my gloves on. My hands stay warm, and my phone stays in my pocket, away from all of the elements.” After talking a bit more about skiing with Chubby Buttons, Mike rips off the ski jacket to reveal a leather coat underneath, and he tells the Sharks that when is finished shredding the slopes, he can also use it while riding the open road. 

Justin then explained to the Sharks that customers love the nano stick backing on the device, which allows them to stick it on the wall and also use Chubby Buttons while cooking with messy hands in the kitchen or singing along in the shower. 

The Sharks now examine the Chubby Buttons units in front of them, and as an avid skier, Barbara is asked to put on a pair of heavy ski gloves and try the product, and she is easily able to control Justin’s phone with the device. Barbara seemed quite impressed, as she said, “It was very easy to work, and you can do nothing in ski gloves, honestly. I’m always taking the ski gloves off, all day long.”

Next, Mike told the Sharks that he and Justin had been friends since they were 13 years old, and they had taken many trips together over the years, and on a ski trip to Colorado, when Mike was constantly struggling with his phone and his ear buds, he said that he looked to Justin and said, “I just wish that there was a big fat button I could use to control my phone.” Then, the two looked at each other and knew that a new idea had been born. 

As usual, Kevin O’Leary dove straight into the business fundamentals, asking how long the product had been on the market, and he learned that they had been selling Chubby Buttons for three years. Mr. Wonderful followed-up to ask about sales, and Justin told him that in 2021, they had sales of $500k, and in 2022, their sales were $600k. 

Mark Cuban next wanted to know the wholesale cost and retail price, and he learned that the product cost the company $13.37, and they sold it online for $79.99 Mark also wanted to know how much the company was spending on marketing, and Justin told him that they spent between $12k-$15k per month, and their customer acquisition cost was $26.86. 

Robert then asked about the biggest application for the product, and Justin replied that while they had originally designed it for snow sports, skiing and snowboarding, customers have been using it while riding motorcycles, sailing, and they had even heard from pilots using it while flying. 

Next, Kevin O’Leary discovered that the company had one investor who had put in $250k, and the founders had not taken any money out of the company yet. 

With the news of a single investor, and all of the numbers on the table, it appeared that some Sharks were ready to swim or take bait. 

Did Chubby Buttons get a deal on Shark Tank?

The Chubby Buttons founders were not able to successfully negotiate a deal in the Tank. 

Mark Cuban spoke up first, as he said he wanted to clear the deck. He told Mike and Justin that he believed there was a real risk from voice-activated products like Alexa headphones and Google headphones, so he quickly dropped out. .

Barbara Corcoran jumped in to say, “It’s nothing I could help you with honestly, it’s not for me.” Robert quickly followed Barbara to the door, saying that he could see a technical obsolescence to it. Lori added her two cents telling the Chubby Buttons boys that they were really nice guys, but she wasn’t a very techy person, and she couldn’t predict what was going to happen in the headphones market. 

There was but one Shark left swimming, Kevin O’Leary, and he appeared intrigued by the product. He said, “It’s such a simple product. Here’s an offer. I’ll give you the $250k; I want 10%, and of course, I want a royalty, but I’m not that greedy, I’ll take $10 per unit until I get back $1 million.”

There was a great deal of discussion about this steep royalty deal, between both the Cubby Buttons team and Mr. Wonderful, and between the other Sharks and O’Leary; eventually, Robert told Kevin, “Kevin, you’re going to bankrupt them at $10 per unit.” 

The Chubby Buttons founders next  made multiple counter offers, including raising the amount of equity to 15%, and offering a lower royalty, but after each counter offer, O’Leary stuck to his demand for a $10 per unit royalty. 

Finally, Lori said to Mike and Justin, “I forbid you to give him a royalty like that,” and after one last stab at a counter offer, which O’Leary again quickly dismissed, the Chubby Buttons guys looked at the Sharks, and Mark Cuban finally spoke up and said simply, “Thanks guys,” and the Mike and Justin turned around and left the Tank without a deal. 

Chubby Buttons Shark Tank update, what happened next?

Despite not landing a deal in the Tank, Chubby Buttons did attract a lot of attention due to their appearance on the show. Since their episode aired, the company has appeared in a number of quality adventure sports and general interest publications, including Entrepreneur, MotorcycleMojo, Ski, Outside, Mashable, Games, and others.

Since taping their episode, the company also released an updated version of their product, Chubby Buttons 2.0. They applied what they had learned from customers, after selling through their first batch of inventory, in order to make some product improvements. They also came up with a registration system for their products so that they could easily reach out to customers for feedback, and to offer any needed updates for the firmware, which serves to connect Chubby Buttons with various models of smartphones. 

While we could not discover any hard sales figures since their Shark Tank episode aired, the fact that Chubby Buttons has over 1,000 customer ratings on Amazon, and that the product has also been designated an Amazon’s Choice product, indicates that the company is doing well with its online sales on the world’s largest retail site.