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Come to Mama: Ph.D. student asks Shark Tank investors to fund her baby bottle innovation

Come to Mama: Ph.D. student asks Shark Tank investors to fund her baby bottle innovation

Looking for cash to take her startup to the next level, a founder and mom of one – who also works full-time for Google - made a pitch worthy of national TV. Tune in Friday to see how it all went down

April 2, 2024 at 8:30am

For most entrepreneurs, showcasing their innovation on Shark Tank, one of the nation’s highest-rated reality TV shows, is something they can only dream of.

Fewer than 1% of the roughly 40,000 applicants annually are selected are to appear on an episode.

But for a hardworking Panther, that dream has become an exciting reality.

“Preparing for the Shark Tank experience, pitching in front of Lori, Mr. Wonderful and Mark Cuban was like an out-of-body experience,” says doctoral student Veon Brewster. Brewster and her husband Sean showcased their unique baby bottle monitor – Veba Baby – on Shark Tank. The episode will air at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Friday, April 5, on ABC. 

“This was an incredible opportunity to share our new product with moms and infant caretakers who want to ensure each milk serving is fresh, temperature controlled and 100% safe for baby,” Brewster says.

A full-time working mother of one – she is the program manager lead for user experience research at Google – who is pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science, Brewster realized there had to be a more efficient and tech-savvy way to keep expressed breast milk and infant formula from spoiling instead of relying on sticky notes and hand-written schedules, as she had been doing. The idea for Veba Baby was born: the world’s first baby bottle monitor that tracks temperature and expiration in real time.


Instead of applying on her own to appear on Shark Tank – as is the case with most aspiring entrepreneurs – Brewster was contacted by a show producer who invited her to apply.

She participated in 2023 in the leading early-stage venture capital accelerator know as Techstars. The immersive 3-month program provided access to financial, human and intellectual capital to fuel the success of her business. Leaders impressed with Brewster’s product provided her with initial funding. They also shared her invention with Shark Tank, which asked Brewster and her husband to film an introductory pitch.

“One of the funniest pieces of advice was to ramp up the energy and get really excited when talking about our product,” says Brewster. “It felt a little silly to ham it up for the cameras, but I understood the importance of sharing our vision in a fun and enthusiastic way.”

The next step was an incredibly detailed background check, not only for herself and her husband, but for their nearest family members.

“They looked into all our previous jobs, schools, friends, social media platforms – It was the most intense scrutiny I’d been through since I bought my house!” says Brewster.

Following that, Veba Baby was determined to be family-friendly for prime-time TV, and Brewster received the green light from the Shark Tank production team to get their pitch ready.


“My previous jobs gave me a lot of experience speaking to an audience and pitching my ideas, but pitching to a group of investors and pitching on TV are two completely different things,” says Brewster with a laugh.

“Although it seemed a little tedious and somewhat intimidating, it helped us to learn our stats and key numbers by heart, since we had practiced them so many times!”

After receiving the thumbs up to travel to Los Angeles, where the show is based, they were advised not to discuss the filming with anyone. One of the most surprising things Brewster learned was that any entrepreneur slated to present could be eliminated at any time for any reason. This information made the experience more thrilling for the pair as anything could happen.


No cell phones, little conversation, all nerves.

Once Brewster and her husband arrived on set, they were led to their dressing room, which included the Veba Baby logo on their door.

“This is really happening,” thought Brewster. “I can’t believe we’ve made it this far!”

The producers ran a quick wardrobe check – no branded items, plaids, polka dots or neon colors – that included close inspection of even Brewster’s shoes and jewelry.

Once the Shark Tank team was ready to begin filming, Brewster and her husband slowly walked onto the set…


“As I was walking in, all I could hear was the sound of my heels as I entered the tank,” says Brewster as the dramatic music and other sound effects that viewers typically associate with the program are added in later.

They were told to look above, not into, the camera as they spoke and to stand on their marks.

“I immediately made eye contact with Lori [Greiner, a businesswoman and ‘shark’] and my heart started beating like crazy,” says Brewster. “We had to smile in silence for 60 seconds while all the cameras were hovering around us,”

Adding to the tension of the moment is the fact that entrepreneurs only have one shot to pitch. The Shark Tank cameras won’t stop if you fumble, slur your words or make any other mistake.

“We were continually warned that ‘There are no second chances in the tank!’” says Brewster with a laugh. “We just had to push through our nerves and get it done!”

Brewster and her husband filmed for 40 minutes in front of the sharks, although only seven to eight minutes of that will actually make it on air.

On Friday, Brewster and the rest of America will see the final result of her pitch and learn if the sharks have invested in her company.

Tune in: 8 p.m. ET/PT on Friday, April 5,, on WPLG Channel 10 in Miami.