This was posted Tuesday, February 28, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Mark Bernstein , who lived in Atlanta for much of the 1990s and still has a home here, is pitching lozenges that curb overeating to the "sharks" on ABC's "Shark Tank" Friday during a special 8 p.m. time.
Through research, Bernstein - who worked at King & Spalding and CNN's legal department and helped launch CNN.com in its early days - said he discovered people tend to eat long after their body is technically satiated.
Called MealEnders, his multi-flavored lozenges are designed to distract the palette partway through a meal and allow the stomach to signal that the person is no longer hungry. As the website notes, it's meant to provide "a sensory cue for dessert, followed by a cleansing taste."
Bernstein has worked on multiple companies over the years in real estate and publishing. He came up with the idea in 2013 and began working with a food development company in 2014 to create a lozenge with a sweet component and a tingly component.
"We're empowering people's self control and helping their mindfulness," he said.
He launched the product at the end of 2014 at a conference in Atlanta. Over two years, he has sold about $2 million worth of product off his website so far, 30 percent reorders. He hopes to get into retail at some point.
Bernstein didn't necessarily want to become the face of the product but "Shark Tank" beckoned. They sought him out. "It took two seasons but we made it," he said.
He knows how big a deal the exposure on "Shark Tank" is, whether he gets a deal from a Shark or not. "Over the last two years, we wanted to expose the MealEnders to as many people as possible and let people find out if it works for them," he said.
He's readying the website for heavy traffic Friday night. "We have enough product," he said. "We're stress testing the site."
Bernstein's memories of Atlanta are warm. He loved starting up what was originally called CNN Interactive which eventually became the largest news site in the world. "I happened to be in the right place at the right time," he said. "It was super exciting." He said he attended a 20th anniversary party in 2015. "I would say almost everyone said it was the best career moments of their life. We were under the radar. There wasn't much corporate oversight until Time Warner acquired CNN."
Although he left Atlanta full time in 1999 for San Francisco, he never sold his home in Ansley Park and would return often until he got married four plus years ago and had a couple of kids. Yet the house remains in his name. "My heart is still in Atlanta," he said.
Bernstein was active in many community organizations including Hands on Atlanta, the Piedmont Park Conservancy and the Atlanta Committee for Public Education. And he still uses the same Atlanta doctor.
"Shark Tank," 8 p.m. this Friday (special time), ABC