Michael Zev, owner of Dreampod Float Tanks (sensory deprivation chambers), made a name for himself in the flotation industry.
Born in New York and moved to Israel when he was 14 years old, Michael Zev holds a surprising connection to Dongguan. He lived in Dongguan from 1996 to the mid-2000s and was an original owner of Hollywood Baby in Dongcheng. He sold his remaining shares last year.
“I think I put about $70,000 into it. We were profitable in about four months, and we only opened it because we were freaking bored of going to KTV every day,” Zev laughed and added it was one of his best investments.
He started to manufacture and sell float tanks after having his own floating experience.
“I went for a float in the U.K. I met with the owner of the company and cut a check there and then for two pods. I had three months to find a space to open my own center (in Taiwan),” Zev said.
He joked that his wife was far keener on float tanks than she was on his sex shop idea. He calculated he would make money after the first year but covered monthly expenses in the first 11 months of business.
“Going from opening a shop, being a manufacturer was just the natural move,” Zev said.
The developmental phase of manufacturing took longer than expected at an estimated two-and-a-half years and cost 10 times the original thought price. This included developing factories, opening molds and hiring the right technicians and engineers.
“When you start a business, when you open a factory, nothing is straight forward. Nothing. And it was very, very painful, yet ultimately became a lucrative business,” Zev said.
He is proud to say he is the direct owner of his factory, located in South China, and does not deal with a middleman operation. Everything is done from the beginning to the end in the factory, from creating molds to writing the software. All components to the pods are imported and assembled in China.
To some extent, Zev is considered an adrenaline junkie, with his love for paragliding, diving and jujitsu. He is currently working towards his personal pilot’s license.
“I paraglide regularly. I am an outdoors guy. I like to be in the mountains regularly and I enjoy a good dose of adrenalin,” he said.
These activities are a way for Zev to face his fears. His family said he feared a lot as a child.
“I wondered what’s up with that. Was I scared as a child of everything, even crossing the street, and today I am flying through the mountains on a cloth and some string?” he laughed.
He thinks his need for adrenaline originates from fear and said he always had some issues with heights. He saw paragliders in Taiwan and went up for a tandem glide. While it scared him, he wanted to learn how to do it on his own.
Dreampod is in over 30 countries and is popular in North America, New Zealand and, Zev’s largest market, Australia. He noticed a shift in the industry, saying they went from selling to float centers only, to selling to those in the wellness industry, such as hotels, medical centers and spas. This was the biggest change in the last year for his business. Zev is looking to soon expand in China.