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Innovation & Job News

Behind the scenes on "Shark Tank" with a DC entrepreneur

CJ Isakow, DC entrepreneur, on "Shark Tank"

Eyebloc covers a computer or tablet's webcam

ICYMI: Eyebloc, a startup in the cyber security realm, debuted on Shark Tank last Friday. Though [spoiler alert] founder CJ Isakow, the serial entrepreneur behind the company, didn't gain any investors through his appearance on the program, he succeeded in bringing awareness to the issue of cybersecurity. The appearance also provided a nice spike in web visits (over nine thousand in a 48-hour period) and sales (500+ in that same 48-hour period).
"I was treated like a star," Isakow says, of his time in L.A. "I had my own trailer, with hair and make-up, which is funny, since I'm bald. We started early—6 or 7 a.m. I had to walk down that long hallway and then you're told where to stand, so you can see me looking for my mark. Then they tell you stare down the sharks for 30 seconds. So if you weren't nervous before…." 

Isakow explains that he actually had 45 minutes in the room with the team of five investors who make up the Sharks. The majority of his time in the "tank" was cut to make "good TV," something he knew would happen before he set foot in L.A. "I recognize that this is reality TV," he says. "I just wanted to make air. I've proven that [Eyebloc] is a good concept."
Eyebloc is a molded piece of soft plastic shaped like a shield that covers the lens of a built-in webcam. Isakow says the idea for the product came after he heard about the students in Lower Merion School District in Pennsylvania under surveillance in 2010. "Americans are being watched," Isakow explains. "I know a business opportunity when I see one." He printed the first prototype using the 3-D printer at the D.C. Public Library (making deadline to get his "Shark Tank" pitch tape with only a few hours to spare) and the rest is history.
Isakow taped his episode in September, when Eyebloc was a mere six weeks old and he had sold fewer than 50 units. Those stats nearly got him laughed out of the tank. Since that time, however, he has sold thousands of Eyeblocs and has launched an Indiegogo campaign. Isakow has also designed a cover for the xBox 360 Kinect
"Since I've been on air, a bunch of investors have approached me," Isakow says. "I launched a modest Indiegogo campaign to get a mold to lower the cost [of each webcam cover]. I'm already at 10 percent of my goal. If I exceed it, I'll use the extra money for an injection mold for the Kinect cover."
Isakow operates Eyebloc in his spare time out of 1776. "They've been unbelievably supportive," he says of his peers in the space. "We had a watch party with a hundred people."

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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