A Minneapolis-based company that makes specialized earplugs will appear on an upcoming episode of the reality television show “Shark Tank” to seek big-time investments.
Vibes, the local start-up, produces high-fidelity earplugs that filter acoustics to lower the decibel level, allowing concertgoers to hear without damaging their ears or suffering hearing loss.
Jackson Mann, a Wayzata native and University of St. Thomas graduate who founded the company, said he is very excited about “Shark Tank.”
“A lot of emotion and effort went into the filming of the segment,” Mann said, “so it is rewarding to see that it is now set to air and for the visibility it will create for Vibes.”
The show’s format includes individual entrepreneurs who try to impress a panel of potential investors — the sharks on the show — and propose an investment deal in exchange for a stake in the company. Mann said Vibes’ appearance is set for the Jan. 27 broadcast on ABC.
Mann got the idea for the earplugs after rupturing his eardrum two years ago when he stood too close to a speaker system at a Pretty Lights concert in St. Paul. Rock concerts can exceed 100 decibels, and the American Academy of Audiology recommends earplugs or other ear protection in places where sounds exceed 85 decibels.
Some fans use foam ear plugs, but they can muffle or distort the sound quality, Mann said. Vibes earplugs lower the decibel levels for bass and treble equally, he said, by using a design that includes special inner- and outer-sound tubes and sound-enhancing filters.
Mann worked with the University of Minnesota’s audiology department for product testing, and with several local music venues during development.
“Our mission is to create awareness about hearing health during live music and entertainment events,” he said, and to offer an alternative.
The earplugs are listed at $23.99. The company has partnered with Hear the World Foundation so that a portion of each sale funds hearing projects that the charity sponsors to provide hearing aids, health care and education to those in need worldwide.
Other local entrepreneurs have been successful on “Shark Tank,” including Katie Sanchez and Melissa Elms with their Bee Free Honee and the late Rabbi Moshe Weiss with Simply Amazinc’s SoundBender amplifier.