Ben Stern: CEO/Founder of Nohbo, Inc. – Ep. 42

My guest today is truly someone special. Ben Stern is the CEO and founder of Nohbo, Inc., a high-growth start-up that eliminates single-use plastic in a variety of consumer-facing products, like shampoo, bath products, and more.

At a young age, Ben was featured on Shark Tank, where billionaire Mark Cuban invested in his company. Now he’s on a meteoric rise to greatness, with a mission that’s really worth rallying behind. 

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2:30 – “I used to go on little day-long escapades with my mother to Michael’s or crafts and art stores to try and build inventions and create solutions to common problems. I think I took my bar mitzvah money and bought a bag of coffee from wholesalers from Seattle and just sold it around the neighborhood, donating a lot of the profits to charity.”

7:30 – “Plastic, I don’t feel is an enemy. It’s a strong material. It’s the consumerism for single-use plastic that makes it not-so-friendly and a not-so-good material. And I don’t think plastic was made or built to be a single-use, one-and-done material…”

8:33 – “The very first step I did was I reached out to some executives at Clorox Company and Hyatt Hotels. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t the only one that thought this was a problem. So—I was 14 at the time—[I sent a] really spotty email full of typos, not not my most impressive work, but it worked. It did the trick.”

11:13 – “I ended up calling every one of my parents’ friends that was an attorney. Eventually, my aunt (who was working for a government contractor, an attorney worked under her), the dude’s name was Matthew Bernstein. And he he wasn’t a patent attorney, his father was. So I sort of finagled my way into a meeting with him.”

14:16 – “Hospitality is our bread and butter. They consume over five billion amenity bottles per year. So it was an alarming problem.”

21:30 – “I got three offers, one from my Mark Cuban, one for from Robert Herjavec and one from Barbara Corcoran. I ended up going with Mark Cuban. $100,000 for 25% percent of the company, and boy was I ecstatic.”

22:34 – “Working with Mark Cuban has been fantastic. He’s a very, very straightforward and direct guy, but he’s definitely encouraged me. He’s supported me more times than I can count when we were short on cash.”

27:13 – “On the large scale, things have found a way to work out. But that’s not by coincidence. It’s truly just by not giving up, after being so worn down, tired and demoralized and just not seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I just had to keep on going, because I felt like, I was at a lecture one time, and there was a speaker who was like ‘the only true way you can fail is if you is if you give up.’”

38:33 – “I always think it’s best to check in with others to make sure they think your idea’s as bright as you do. Ask for the cold, brutal hard truth, going back to my first steps of reaching out to Clorox Company and Hyatt Hotels. That’s always extremely helpful, because if they share your same excitement and vision, you’re going to be driven towards taking those next steps.”

49:45 – “I think entrepreneurship was my answer to all my problems. It allowed me to find my identity, and I think it can do that for a lot of people. …a business, a nonprofit, just waking up in the morning and knowing that you’re making a difference and knowing that you have things to do, that that is what I found myself addicted to.”

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