ABC’s ‘Shark Tank‘ season 14 episode 2 witnessed entrepreneurs Charlie Katrycz, Max Brown, and Brian Brunsing present their unorthodox gadget, Banana Phone, hoping for a life-changing investment from the Sharks. While Banana Phone is a Bluetooth-enabled device that lets one give voice commands and take calls, the founders revealed that they had a unique reason behind starting the business. Well, with such an interesting product on hand, many must be wondering about the growth of Banana Phone since its appearance on the show. So let’s find out where the company is at present, shall we?
Banana Phone: Who Are They And What Do They Do?
Interestingly, two of the founders, Max Brown and Brian Brunsing, hail from Buffalo, New York, while Charlie Katrycz is a native of Toronto, Ontario. Brian, who is an alumnus of the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of California, Berkley, is also pursuing a course on blockchain technology from MIT Sloan School of Management. He also has an impressive professional career apart from co-establishing Banana Phone LLC in May 2017. Brian has worked as an Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Consultant at Ecosystems.
Furthermore, Brian has been involved with the financial services company VISA for over eight years. He joined VISA in 2012 as a Technical Support Engineer. Although Brian took a small break while co-establishing Banana Phone LLC, he rejoined VISA in 2018 and currently serves as the Sr. Director of Ecommerce and Digital Marketplaces. Meanwhile, Max completed his Bachelor of Science in business studies from the University of Colorado Boulder before going on to work with the Garrett Leather Corporation. He has been with the company for over 14 years and currently serves as the President.
Banana Phone, which, like its name, is shaped like a banana, is a Bluetooth-enabled device that connects to a smartphone and lets the user give out voice commands, play music, accept calls, or even access the contacts list. From the looks of it, Banana Phone might also appeal to the nostalgia factor, as it looks very much like cordless phones, which are now a thing of the past. The founders mentioned that the product was inspired by the song “Bananaphone” by Raffi as well as the hundreds of memes that originated from it. It was originally meant to be a novelty item that users could have fun with.
However, there is another aspect to their business, as Max, Brian, and Charlie are massive gorilla lovers and are worried about how fast the species is getting wiped out. Hence, they decided to start Banana Phone LLC in 2017 and soon partnered with Gearing Up 4 Gorillas, donating up to 1% of their sales to the Non-Governmental Organization. While the link between bananas and gorillas is a given, Gearing Up 4 Gorillas protects the endangered species in Congo’s Virunga National Park and the founders are happy to donate to a cause they completely believe in.
Where Is Banana Phone Now?
When starting the business in 2017, Max, Brian, and Charlie decided to take the path of crowdfunding and launched a campaign on Indie Go-Go that fetched them a handsome investment of around $44,850. Moreover, they mostly resort to marketing over social media and even use memes and jokes in their promotional material in order to appeal to the younger generation. Although not much has changed about the device since it first launched, the founders ensured that it would work with any smartphone as long as it has a Bluetooth facility.
At present, apart from Banana Phone’s official website, interested customers can find the device on the online retail giant Amazon. Moreover, besides being featured on popular YouTube channels like ‘Unbox Therapy,’ Banana Phone has been mentioned in numerous prestigious publications and websites. While it is a fun gadget, saving gorillas is a cause that resonates with most, and we can fully expect the company to grow further in the future.