The last thing Aurora Weinstock expected to do with her Fordham communications degree was end up pitching a toy vacuum, Pick-Up Bricks, on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank. But that’s exactly where she found herself late last year.

A Long Island native, Weinstock transferred to Fordham as a junior and quickly set out to make the most of her time at the University. She worked at WFUV, Fordham’s public media station, and interned at the national TV show Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee. After graduating in 1995, she built a career in marketing and publicity at major film studios, including Paramount. She took a hiatus to raise her three sons—now 9, 12, and 13 years old—and a schnoodle named Charlie. But that “break” is over now, thanks to what the Los Angeles resident calls “the Lego incident.”

Fordham Magazine caught up with Weinstock to find out how she went from being a media exec to an entrepreneur pitching her invention on national TV.

How did your Fordham education help prepare you for entrepreneurship?
I wasn’t exactly on an entrepreneurial path from the start, but Fordham gave me a solid foundation on which I built a successful first career—and the overwhelming desire to be a lifelong learner who leans into curiosity and loves the challenge of figuring things out is persistent. Ideas are easy; I’m probably not the first person to think of something like this, but the difference is having the will and courage to jump in and figure out how to execute it.

How did you get the idea for Pick-Up Bricks?
I have three active boys with tons of Lego bricks, which is a family favorite, but it was also everywhere, all the time, and seemingly always underfoot. Any parent can tell you the pain is real! I’m not just talking about the pain of stepping on Lego bricks or other little toys, but the pain of trying to get kids to pick up their stuff. That’s why we made Pick-Up Bricks a toy. We wanted to empower kids to want to do it themselves by making cleanup fun.

Daymond John and Pick-Up Bricks
Shark Daymond John tries out Pick-Up Bricks on a tray of small toys. Pick-Up Bricks is a functional vacuum that separates dirt and debris from the toys it sucks up.

Walk me through the creation process.
I had had enough and ended up vacuuming [my kids’ Lego] pieces up with my Dyson—maybe not my best parenting moment, but it was oddly satisfying and kind of fun to suck them up. The incident sent me and my brother-in-law Steve, who has entrepreneurial experience and an advanced business degree, on a four-year quest to save feet everywhere. We started sketching on a scrap piece of paper, and that was the launching pad. Fast forward, we launched domestically in late 2022 and had a successful year last year, which we capped off with the Shark Tank appearance.

Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner with Pick-Up Bricks
Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner were the “winning” Sharks, agreeing to invest in Pick-Up Bricks.

How did you end up on Shark Tank?
One of the show’s casting team came across Pick-Up Bricks on social media. On one hand, we were just blown away to have drawn Shark Tank’s attention. At the same time, we were very apprehensive about doing the show and putting ourselves out there. But I’m always encouraging my children to do hard things and to stretch themselves by going outside their comfort zones—this was my opportunity to walk the walk.

You ended up accepting a joint offer from Lori Greiner and Mark Cuban. Tell me more about your experience on the show.
I am so grateful for the opportunity! We had two excellent producers who were our biggest cheerleaders and skillfully guided us through the monthslong process.

The best part for me was the Sharks’ reactions. They totally got it—and they loved it! It was a lot of fun to see them sucking up the Lego bricks, racing to finish first. Even the notoriously spicy personalities responded so positively to us and our invention—it was truly gratifying.

What’s next?
We are in talks to go beyond the direct-to-consumer space into national chain retail placement. Looking forward, we are focused on getting Pick-Up Bricks out to more of the world and capitalizing off that swell [in attention from appearing on Shark Tank].

Interview conducted, edited, and condensed by Sierra McCleary-Harris.