'Shark Tank:' Shelton family dives in with Kudo Banz
One Shelton family will be jumping into a TV show’s version of shark infested waters Sunday night — and it will be for the world to see.
Amanda and Hamza Naqvi, along with the real masters of the pitch, their children, Mickey, Ayaan and Booth Hill School second-grader Sofia, will be featured in the next episode of Shark Tank, which will air Sunday, March 17, at 10 p.m. on ABC.
And the family goes into the tank — in which such Sharks as Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Daymond John hunt the next big money maker — with the hope of selling one of them on Amanda’s creation — Kudo Banz, described as a sticker chart for the wrist that offers parents a chance to offer positive reinforcement at a moment’s notice.
“It was awesome,” said Mickey about the appearance, which has been taped, but the family was sworn to secrecy about the results until it airs. “I was a little nervous, but mostly excited. It is so much different than what you see on TV.”
“I was pumped,” said Ayaan, who, along with his older brother, are students at Perry Hill School.
Amanda conceived the Kudo Banz idea when Mickey was 3 and Ayaan was just 1. She said she had been struggling with Mickey, always yelling and using constant time-outs with him, when one day he told her he was never going to be one of those “good listeners.”
“I could not believe he was labeling himself already,” said Amanda. “I realized I had been sending the wrong message by telling him what he was always doing wrong.”
Amanda said she asked herself, Do I want a kid who will go down that road of looking for negative attention? A child who doesn’t believe in himself?
“I knew things had to change, that’s when I turned to the sticker chart method,” said Amanda. “The problem was we were always on-the-go, and the sticker chart was always stuck at home. We just couldn’t remember to do it regularly. The connection between Mickey getting the sticker and the good behavior was getting lost.”
That was when she had that “ah ha” moment — and the idea of Kudo Banz, a sticker chart for his wrist that provides constant reinforcement. Within a week, Amanda said Mickey’s behavior had changed dramatically, and her self-doubting son began his turn to immense self- confidence.
“If I would start to not listen, I would look at my wrist and know I had to work on my goals,” said "Mickey.
“It’s the visual reminder that helps you achieve that goal,” said Amanda.
Kudo Banz is a silicone bracelet that has three indentations to slip on the Kudo of the child’s choice when he or she completes a specific “task” to earn it. Once the child gets three Kudos, he or she then gets to spin the Wheel — which is on the free app parents will download — and earn a reward. These can be chosen by parents but are preset to include such things as a dance party, playing dress-up, a board game and playing outdoors. Once they spin the wheel, they get to move up the “game board” in the app.
There is also a hardcover storybook, Adventures of Drago and George, that is included with the Kudo Banz Starter Pack, which details the story behind the Kudo Banz in a fun way to get a child excited about embarking on the good listening adventure.
Parents can use Kudo Banz to create a plan — including rewards — for positive reinforcement, and it includes the child in the whole process. The reward wheel is fully customizable, so the child can choose his or her own rewards.
“It is so flexible,” said Ayaan about how Kudo Banz can be individualized for each child.
“It totally made a difference … it made me feel happier, and our family was happier,” said Mickey about how he changed his attitude thanks to his mother’s Kudo Banz. “Kudo Banz helped me overcome challenges and made me more confident. Without Kudo Banz, I would not be the kid I am now.”
But Kudo Banz did not just become a brand overnight. Amanda, an expert graphic designer who comes from an entrepreneurial family, had already begun her first successful business, PaperRamma, but realized stepping into the Kudo Banz world would come at a major investment in money and time. So she waited, always keeping this idea on the back burner.
It all changed the day, some seven years after her initial idea, that Hamza decided he wanted to leave the corporate world and team with Amanda on heading PaperRamma — the business that pays the family’s bills — while developing the new Kudo Banz brand.
“This is made by parents for parents,” said Hamza about Kudo Banz. “We’re not Mattel or Hasbro, with people sitting in a board room coming up with ideas. We are problem solving 101, at the front lines of parenting. Parents have limited time today, so we knew this needed to be easy, have simple components, so a parent can come home and get going in five minutes.”
Once created, the family began selling Kudo Banz on its own website, www.kudobanz.com, but always focused on further developing the brand. That is where Shark Tank came in.
“Friends kept telling us, ‘You have to go on Shark Tank, you have to go on Shark Tank,’” said Amanda.
After convincing a normally shy Amanda to go for it, the family took the road trip to Pittsburgh for an open audition for the show. The rest is history, and now friends, family and the Shelton community will learn the results of the TV appearance Sunday night.
“[Kudo Banz] is a great every day solution to everyday problems all parents across America face,” said Hamza about why he believes his family was chosen for the show.
“It’s unique,” said Amanda about Kudo Banz. “It is an easy, simple spin on something people have been using for decades.”
Hamza said it was important to show their belief in their product, meaning the testimonials before the Sharks had to come from the children themselves. That is where Mickey, Ayaan and Sofia took over the pitch, according to the Shark Tank promotional material about Sunday’s program.
“Not everyone is perfect. We’re not sitting here saying we’ve never yelled or don’t give time outs, but there are less instances of it,” said Amanda. “This gives parents some kind of plan.”
“You can use Kudo Banz in your own way,” said Hamza, adding that the product can be used to help with the picky eater, potty training, getting ready for preschool or daily routines. “It is for all those milestones and challenges for children 3 to 6. It’s ever evolving as the child is going through each milestone.
“Parenting is a fun journey, and, at end of every day, we as parents want to say that we had a great day and had fun with our children,” added Hamza. “If we can bring happiness and fun into other parents’ lives with a product we made, then we want to try to do that.”
“That is how we measure success,” said Amanda.
To learn more about Kudo Banz, visit www.kudobanz.com.