The consequences of drinking while sitting on a nice couch are all too familiar for Mike and Jen Levinson.
The Littleton couple likes to watch “Shark Tank” each week with drinks in their hands, but their dogs and five boys kept spilling them, they said.
“We always tried to shove our drink in between the sectional’s couch cushions, but that never worked out, and we wanted something more convenient than just reaching down to a coffee table,” Mike said. “So, when we searched for a product on Amazon and came up with nothing, we decided to create our own.”
The Levinsons launched a product called Sofa Stud on Amazon and its own website in November. The Sofa Stud is a cup holder that fits 12-ounce cans and cups, with an insert on the bottom that slides in between the couch cushions.
They have also created a larger, four-inch version with a slit on the side of the cup holder for mugs, but it is not available for retail yet.
Last week, the couple opened a Kickstarter campaign to help fund inventory. As of Friday, they had raised $3,976 from 65 backers. The Levinsons have 45 days to reach a goal of $10,500, but plan to move forward with the company regardless.
“Amazon is a fantastic company, but we don’t own the customers. Kickstarter will help take our product to the next level,” Mike said. “Eventually, we want to offer a tandem cup or do some licensing deals with sports teams or colleges. There are endless possibilities.”
The smaller Sofa Stud model retails for $12 on Amazon and the company’s website, and the Levinsons said they plan to offer the larger one for around $15 once they build up enough capital for production.
“In a perfect world, we’d like to see our product in King Soopers near the beer, Walgreens or Bed Bath & Beyond,” Mike said. “We see a lot of retail options. This is an impulse buy, so people don’t have to think too hard about it when they pick it up.”
Another product on the market like the Sofa Stud is the CouchCoaster, which retails on Amazon for $25, but it’s designed to fit on a couch armchair.
The Sofa Stud creators first built a model of the product using cardboard last year. They’ve invested around $20,000 in the business and have no employees.
The Levinsons hired TRG Warehouse Fulfillment based in Los Angeles to help with online fulfillment and have placed orders for 12,000 units from a manufacturer in China. So far, they’ve sold 1,500 units, Mike said.
The couple moved to the Denver area from L.A. in August. Jen used to run a lifestyle blog called Jen’s List with around 18,000 followers, who she said have helped her spread awareness about the brand, but Sofa Stud is now her full-time gig. Mike still works remotely for a bacon and sausage company in Texas called Pederson’s Natural Farms.
As true “Shark Tank” fanatics, the Levinsons have already applied to pitch their product on ABC’s entrepreneurial TV show.
“Everybody that watches ‘Shark Tank’ knows that a product that solves a problem with mass appeal, a low price point and a high-profit margin are the ones that really seem to do well,” Jen said. “And that’s exactly what Sofa Stud has to offer.”