News Coronavirus The ‘downright freaky’ invention that was a decade ahead of its time

The ‘downright freaky’ invention that was a decade ahead of its time

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First, Irina Blok created Google’s iconic Android logo.

Next, she went on Shark Tank more than a decade ago with a face mask invention that panelists labelled “downright freaky”.

Now, she’s being hailed as “ahead of her time”.

The Russian-born entrepreneur appeared on the first season of Shark Tank in 2009 with the hope of scoring a $50,000 investment to get her fashionable face masks into every American hospital.

Ms Blok had already sold about 200 masks, which had everything from a pig’s snout to a skeleton face printed on them.

She said the head of the American paediatric board had contacted her about wanting to use her masks.

It came at a time when the swine flu was at epidemic levels.

“They [American paediatric board] said they think it’s genius,” she told the Sharks.

The problem was the masks had not yet been designed with the appropriate antiviral properties for protection against disease.

That’s where Blok hoped the Sharks would be able to assist, but the feedback she received caused her jaw to drop, literally.

After revealing she had 700,000 hits on her website one week after her launch, panellist Kevin O’Leary said “is that because swine flu was all over the news for two weeks? Now we don’t see it anymore. It’s an epidemic that came and went”.

O’Leary earlier said, “Do you think hospitals may have a problem putting a pig’s snout onto a doctor’s face”?

Barbara Corcoran described the face masks as “downright freaky”.

Blok initially pitched her product as “a collection of fashion surgical masks designed for people with an edgy sense of humour who want to express themselves”.

But Daymond John said he did not believe the face masks could become a fashion accessory.

Kevin Harrington said it was a “novelty item, not a serious item”.

Robert Herjavec told Blok to “keep doing it as a side business” and “don’t quit your day job”.