After Teresa Quinn, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program manager at Clark University, listened to Max Feber, an 18-year-old contestant of Shark Tank, on What Was That Like, a podcast hosted by Scott Johnson, she knew this intriguing young entrepreneur needed to come to campus!
Teresa reached out to Max, now 23, a contestant on season 10, episode 9 of Shark Tank which aired on January 6, 2019, to arrange a visit to Clark’s campus. Teresa and Max agreed on March 30 for a day of guest lectures and a pitch workshop with a mini-pitch competition. Max was all in and ready to meet the entrepreneurs of Clark.
Max started out his visit with a light breakfast in the School of Management. Max entertained Alan Eisner, Dean of the School of Management, Andrea Aiello, Associate Dean of SOM, Teresa, and members of the Clark Entrepreneurship Club, Henry Reyes, Noah Katz, Brian Bonczek, and Clarissa Ko. with his college journey as a student at Babson College while running a small business. Max would be in class working on his signature business BRUW, the business he ultimately presented to the Sharks on Shark Tank, while listening to his professors. Although Max started BRUW in high school, there was never a question of completing college. Max quoted his grandmother as saying “an education is something that you can never lose”, which can be a lifesaver in an unpredictable world.
After breakfast, Max headed out for a day visiting Professor Quinn’s ENT105 Creating a Culture of Innovation and Entrepreneurship class, lunch with the E&I student staff, and an afternoon lecture. Additionally, Max hosted a pitch workshop and pitch contest in the afternoon which was attended by 15 Clark students. Max helped the students develop 30 to 60-second pitches, narrowing down the top three contenders to Wynne Dromey, Noah Katz, and Clarissa Ko, with Wynne winning $100 for first place; Noah winning earbuds for second place, and a power bank for third for Clarissa.
Throughout the day, Max shared his entrepreneurial journey starting at a young age with “tester” businesses. These businesses included Bar Mitzvah montage videos, snow cones, cell phone rescue bags, a photo booth, and an unfortunate mishap as a tee-shirt printer for his junior class – the lettering peeled off after washing and the junior class photo was less than optimal.
Max shared how the birth of BRUW came to be when he was 15. Iced coffee brewing was just taking off and Max, a self-proclaimed coffee expert, believed it was going to be the next big thing. He searched the internet for iced coffee recipes and came across brewing systems in the $200-$400 range. Max knew there needed to be a more cost-efficient solution and through trial and error, designed a simple prototype filter device that made excellent iced coffee. Supportive friends and family jumped in to help Max with design, patenting, and a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and BRUW was born.
Invigorated by the momentum of BRUW, Max appeared on a local knockoff Shark Tank show in his home state of Michigan called Hatched. After appearing on that show, Max received a deal with the Home Shopping Network and a partnership with Grommet, and the orders came rolling in! Enlisting his support network again, family and friends jumped in to fulfill the orders and Max shipped out his first pallet.
As Max moved on to college, he reflected on where BRUW was headed, and on a whim, applied to be on Shark Tank. Max was surprised by the stealthy nature of Shark Tank production. Notifications of acceptance, filming, and airing were all conveyed last minute to the contestants with little more than two weeks’ notice on everything. Max also shared that pitching to the sharks was not a guarantee to be on the aired show. However, Max underscored that Shark Tank is the real deal and that everything seen on TV is real except the eight-minute segment that aired actually took 45 minutes.
It was clear to viewers that Max’s youth, determination, and entrepreneurial spirit inspired the Sharks and Max ultimately accepted a deal with Mark Cuban for $50,000 for 30% equity in BRUW. According to Max, the six months after taping were a blur. However, things got real when Mark Cuban’s team reached out and started tightening up the deal. There were lawyers to write out contracts and help Max reincorporate BRUW, and accountants to vet BRUW’s overall financial and tax health. The final agreement was signed in October of Max’s freshman year of college. Max was clear that during that time it was dizzying and stressful, but all worth it.
On January 6, 2019, Max’s season 10, episode 9 was aired and the orders came flying in. Max and his support system of friends and family gathered yet again at Max’s house, with a Costco shark cake, to watch the episode. Immediately the orders came in and it was time to fill orders. The night was a high Max soaked up, but he had to get some rest that night as he had a 5am call the next morning to be on the local news.
The Shart Tank aftermath, as Max called it, brought many significant events. First, BRUW made more in the 48 hours following his Shark Tank appearance than it made in the two years prior; BRUW was the only company of Mark Cuban Capital (MCC) to do more revenue on the day after airing than the day of, and Max triumphed the abandon checkout statistics. Abandon checkout is a term when a potential customer gets to the checkout area and leaves without a purchase. A retailer will receive this information and those that follow up with the potential customer have a close rate of about 20%. Max used his phone to Facetime potential customers and asked for their business. Max had an 80% close rate with his Facetime calls!
Max had an awaking about a year after Shark Tank, which was also at the beginning of the pandemic. After visiting with other Shark Tank alumni, Max realized he loved BRUW but did not want it to be his entire future, thus, after much thought and consideration, BRUW was sold to Snarky in May 2020, and the name was eventually changed to BRUWtea.
The evening BRUW was sold, Max relaxed for the first time in five years. With the constraints of the pandemic, the post-sale celebration was as unique as Max. Max bought himself a bottle of champagne and Facetimed his friends while propped up in bed to share the news of the sale.
Max finished up college at Babson in 2021 and worked for a few start-ups, but eventually started another business called Bellwether, a political engagement platform for community organizers. As Max continues with this start-up, he also thinks about other ways to share his story, while helping young entrepreneurs. Ideas he is considering – furthering his education so he can teach in higher-ed and pursuing other speaking engagements and opportunities.
Whatever the direction, Max is an inspiration for Clark entrepreneurs and has been invited back to campus next spring to be a Shark for Clark Tank.
Upcoming Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program Events
Clark Tank Sponsored – Center for Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Club Hackathon
The E&I Program and the Clark Tank Committee 2023 are excited to support TIE with their hackathon, April 21-23. To find out more and to register for the event, please go to www.clarkathon.tech.
E&I Awards Night
Sigma Nu Tau Induction Ceremony and Entrepreneurship Awards night is April 28 from 6-8pm. Nominations are open for the following awards Clark Student Entrepreneur of the Year, Clark Student Venture of the Year, and Up and Coming Clark Student Entrepreneur of the Year. You can cast your nomination here.
Student-Run Ventures Advisory Board Meeting
The student staff of the Clark Thrift Store and the Student Small Business Center will present their yearly update to the Student Run Ventures Advisory Board. This meeting on May 1 from 5-6:30pm is open to the public.
Podcast Guest Luncheon
All guests from season three of E&I for You & I podcast, alumni and current students, will come together to share their stories and network, as well as the announcement for the 23-24 host will be made. The luncheon is on May 2 by invitation only.
Learn More about the entrepreneurship and innovation program at Clark University
Please follow the E&I Program’s social accounts – LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram – to keep up with all Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program’s events and activities as well as our events calendar and student-run website www.clarkstudentventures.com.
If you are interested in getting involved with Clark Tank or the E&I program, please reach out to Teresa Quinn at TQuinn@clarku.edu.
About the Clark University Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program:
The E&I courses are designed to help a student identify problems, ideate solutions to those problems, and implement the best solution to bring about the desired change. Whether your interest is business ownership or social change, Clark University’s E&I minor complements any major to help you gain the full benefit of your educational experience and future goals.
Teresa Quinn, Manager of the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program
Meredith Galena, Communications Specialist, School of Management