If you are a local entrepreneur or inventor, odds are you have heard of the Emmy award- winning TV show “Shark Tank.” The show features self-made, wealthy business moguls such as Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban and QVC darling Lori Greiner, who are willing to give a budding entrepreneur a leg up, if you can deliver a good pitch and a great product, that is.
Producers from the show are in Utah again to find those savvy folks who can deliver not just a good investment opportunity but good TV material as well. Several Utahns have made the casting cut and been on the show. A few have walked away with a deal, others have not. Still, they agree that just getting on the show is priceless exposure for your business, and it is worth swimming with the Sharks.
Local business owner Jerry Hancock appeared on the show with his wife, Naomi, after parting ways with a business partner and needing more capital to run their franchise, Sub Zero Ice Cream. They felt they had perfected their pitch, which included the unique entertainment value of spraying liquid nitrogen on the stage (the nitrogen is used to freeze the ice cream) and stated that they were going to blow the Sharks away.
In the end, it was not enough to get the Hancocks a deal.
“Being on the show was a great experience,” Jerry says. “It does amazing things for your business even if you don’t get a deal. Really, it’s more about just getting on the show.”
And how do you get on the show? Jerry says he believes show producers are looking for contestants with something special.
“Don’t make it so much about your business,” he advises. “The producers are looking for personality; the Sharks are looking for the business. Be likable, and also be desperate enough that you are willing to make a deal with them.”
Two other local business owners who have cut deals with a Shark are Eric Child and Spencer Quinn, inventors of FiberFix. Their product was born after hearing a story about a doctor who used casting tape to fix a broken ATV. Child and Quinn created Fiberfix products using a technology similar to casting but that is also waterproof. The duo received three Shark bites, but ultimately decided to take Lori Greiner’s offer of $120,000 for 12 percent equity in the company. Cha-ching!
“After being on Shark Tank we got hundreds of hits on our website and immediately received calls from retailers who wanted to carry our product,” said Spencer. “It was the single best decision we made since we started FiberFix. It catapulted the business ahead at least three years.”