Four years ago, while attending Arizona State University, Alexander Simone tried to impress a date with a bottle of wine. The problem was the libation wasn’t cold.
An aspiring inventor and entrepreneurship major, Simone was determined to chill the beverage. He took a pasta strainer, ice and salt, and poured the wine through the concoction. It became cold quickly, but the drink had become watered down.
“I thought that [the strainer] might help a little, but I was shocked at how well it worked when I did that,” he said. “That shock stayed with me and I thought about how cool it was that I was able to do that so well, but there must be a way to do this without ruining the wine.”
That’s when Simone, 25, a 2010 Canyon Crest Academy graduate, first began thinking of ProntoBev.
The device chills wine to about 20 degrees Farenheit within 30 seconds after the drink is poured into it. Because every wine is different, users can control the ideal temperature. Drinks like coffee, tea, liquor, juice and water can also be chilled in the ProntoBev.
Recently, the concept received interest from Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban.
Cuban offered Simone $100,000 for 25 percent of the company, contingent on Simone raising the other $100,000.
“He was my favorite Shark,” said Simone, who grew up in Carmel Valley and now lives in San Francisco, regarding his Nov. 12 episode. “It was a no-brainer to take his deal.”
But the Sharks weren’t so quick to support ProntoBev. At first, the judges gave him grief about needing to learn more about marketing. (In fact, Simone had studied marketing and entrepreneurship in college, after first majoring in engineering and realizing the field wasn’t for him.)
“I think you have something clever,” said show judge Lori Greiner, who immediately said she couldn’t support his product. “I think it has merit. I went out because I think there’s a lot of time and education for you to get to a price point that will be a hero.”
Shark Kevin O’Leary was only a bit more supportive. He offered $100,000 for 50 percent of Simone’s company, a deal Simone said he just couldn’t get behind because it would have put him in a “really disadvantageous spot.”
Through the pressure, Simone appeared to be able to manage the rejection.
“First and foremost, I was there to present my product,” he said. “I know things weren’t going so great for a lot of the time in there, and people credited me for keeping my cool. I didn’t have a choice. When you’re looking for investment, it’s normal to get a lot of rejection.”
Luckily, Cuban swooped in at the last moment to offer Simone a deal he couldn’t refuse.
Since the filming in September, Simone said he has been working closely with Cuban’s team to work on the project and manufacture it to begin shipping as soon as possible.
The product was also backed on Indiegogo, more than doubling its original $25,000 goal at $63,442 in 45 days. ProntoBev will begin shipping in about two months for the campaign supporters.
For everyone else who pre-orders the device on prontoconcepts.com, at $97, the device will ship in the spring, Simone said.
The young inventor is always looking for new investors, as he has more concepts he’d like to get funded. Those interested in backing him should reach out to him on his website.