This story is part of our new Start. Build. Grow. series, a celebration of August’s Black Business Month.
Brooklyn orthodontist Dr. Bobbi has made it her mission to make better oral health available to everyone. She understands the connection between healthy teeth and gums and your overall health, which is why she created The Big Mouth Toothbrush, an innovative electric toothbrush designed to let users clean more of their mouth in less time. And she recently took her invention into the Shark Tank in hopes of finding a successful investor-partner.
In the March 3 episode of ABC’s hit reality business television series, the HBCU-educated dentist was hoping to get one of the sharks to invest $150,000 for 10 percent of her business. But as Dr. Bobbi told The Root, getting a deal was more about the mentorship than the money.
“I think anyone who is an entrepreneur or aspires to be one knows about and loves Shark Tank. It has been one of my favorite shows forever. When I began developing the Big Mouth Toothbrush, Shark Tank, of course, was on my mind, not so much for the money as for the mentorship and guidance,” she said.
The first Black woman orthodontist to design a toothbrush of her own, Dr. Bobbi calls her invention a “spa in your mouth.” She has a patent pending on her design – an extra-large brush head and bristles that are larger than a regular toothbrush to cover more surface area.
Dr. Bobbi said lots of research was involved in making sure her pitch was point for the sharks. She wanted to have a clear understanding of the business terms these savvy investors might throw her way while adding a little bit of her personality.
But her energetic pitch was met with some resistance from sharks who countered that the oral health field is already overcrowded with well-established brands like Colgate Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, and Procter and Gamble. And after surviving a pretty tough round of questioning, she ultimately struck a deal with real estate mogul and business expert Barbara Corcoran.
And while it remains to be seen what the future holds for The Big Mouth Toothbrush, for Dr. Bobbi, the exposure and the feedback she received while in the tank has already set her up for success.
“In addition to selling over 2,000 units and counting within 24 hours of airing, my Shark Tank experience gave me even more confidence in my product,” she told The Root. “Having all of the sharks give me positive feedback on my product allowed me to build on and broaden my spectrum of capabilities. There are no boundaries when it comes to BIG Mouth. We are only going to get bigger, greater, and better! The sky is the limit, literally!”