Well, I actually haven’t seen this particular ABC episode of “Shark Tank”, but I heard about the two guys who had the guts to turn down a one million dollar offer by the sharks. That’s an insane move for a start up company and everybody thought they were completely crazy. However, perhaps Voyage Air Guitar CEO Jeff Cohen and his son Josh were just smart enough to not just hand over patent rights to somebody else who could then cash in big time on royalties. Watch the video below to see their presentation to the Shark Tank members and their negotiation.
Voyager Guitar is the world’s first foldable guitar. Actually, by now it’s not only one guitar we are talking about, because the two entrepreneurs have expanded their product portfolio to a broad variety of different models since. Jeff readily admits that while he couldn’t land a deal with the sharks, the mere opportunity of being featured on national TV network show opened many doors and gave them a tremendous amount of exposure. Sales skyrocketed and as a matter of fact, when you go on their website right now, you will find that some of the models are currently out of stock. So I assume business is going really well for the Voyage Air Guitar company. According to Jeff, a bunch of famous guitarists such as John Oates and Willie Nelson are using and endorsing their product line.
I think the idea is nothing short of brilliant. And I like that they had enough confidence in their products and business skills to turn down a tempting offer. As it turns out, they made the right decision. I just emailed them and asked them if they would let me test one of their models so I can provide you guys with a product review. We shall see. In the meantime, and especially if you are a guitarist who travels frequently, I encourage you to visit their website for more information.
Oh, one important question that obviously comes to mind immediately is whether or not these guitars actually hold the tuning when you collapse them and then later on fold them up again. Well, just watch the video, one of the sharks (looks like he knows the pentatonic scale a bit) tried it and voila, that thing stayed in tune which is pretty amazing:
So, what happened to Voyage Guitar after Shark Tank Season 1?
Well, as mentioned, because of the buzz after their first appearance on the show, the business gained a massive amount of traction. However, did you know that Jeff actually went back into the tank? As a matter of fact, he didn’t return only once but several times. Here is what happened chronologically:
In Season1 , Jeff and John Cohen turned down Kevin O’Leary’s – the shark also known by the name Mr. Wonderful – offer. They continued to their business, expanded their product line and launched in over 200 stores across the United States.
During Season 3, the Shark Tank producers suggested for Voyager Air Guitar to come back, just to see how the sharks would react to the whole thing 3 years after they had met initially. Clearly, Kevin O’Leary liked the product and believed in its success, specifically the patent on the folding mechanism. As a matter of fact, Kevin seemed annoyed at himself, because in retrospect he realized that he had missed out on a great opportunity. And while he had told Jeff in Season 1 that he was “dead to him”, he had a change of heart. Behind the cameras Jeff and Kevin agreed on a multi-million dollar deal – very complex and with a number of ‘strings attached’, for the lack of a better term. But the producers decided that there was just no way to put the whole thing on TV – it just didn’t fit the regular Shark Tank format and would have been way too confusing to the audience. Anyway, Kevin had now managed to secure his piece of Voyage Air Guitar action.
Another point and probably one of the most frequently asked questions is regarding the Voyage Air Guitar price range. These guitars are not cheap and nor should they be. And that’s not just because of their patented folding technology, but simply also based on the fact that the materials used for these instruments is good quality stuff, which is important, especially for travelers. Below is a selection of models the company offers as part of their ever growing product portfolio:
Subsequently, and while Shark Tank Season 4 was aired, Jeff along with Kevin met “in secret meetings” with Fender executives to talk business. Fender realized that Jeff’s patented folding technology is something they can’t ignore, so now the questions on the table was around how the two companies could benefit from each other’s success, without compromising their own brand’s philosophy and independence. This resulted in an agreement to do a market test. A very limited number of Voyage Air Guitar Fender models will be made available in a few selected stores (edit: I read that Fender agreed to start a pilot of putting 150 instruments in 5-10 of their stores.)
As of April 2016, the Huffington Post along with other media outlets reported $12 to $13 million as the Voyage Air Guitar net worth value, which is according to the company, directly linked to the the several Shark Tank episodes on which their instruments received air time, as well as the subsequent online buzz around the novel folding guitar technology.
I personally have not had a chance to try any of these folding travel guitars. But I will continue to reach out to the company to see if they’d be interested in lending me one of their instruments to do a thorough Voyage Air Guitar Review, which I will then obviously share with you guys here. In the meantime, there are a number of good reviews from folks all over the world sharing their personal experiences. You can read-up on things like the practicality of the Voyage Air guitars when it comes to travelling and performing. Here is the link.
For more details check out the Voyage Air Guitar Website.
Well done, Jeff and Josh – way to go!