The open casting call for ABC’s Shark Tank season 10 was quickly approaching (I write about the how and why we decided to attend an open call here Shark Tank Open Call Part 1.) To prepare I scoured the inter-webs for all things Shark Tank. I watch v-logs, read blogs, read about the application process and took notes. I had gleaned some gems from my research and used them to shape our “pitch”. Here’s what I had discovered:
-You only get 60ish seconds. Some people said it was a soft 60, some said they were cut off after the 60 seconds and didn’t get to finish.
-Not only are you selling your product, you’re selling yourselves. Work that into your pitch. Who are you, where you’re from, why are you doing this, what makes you great.
-Nerves or not, you need to shine. At the end of the day, you’r auditioning for a TV show, a good one with colorful people, prodcuts, and perosnalities.
-Get there early, it’s worth it.
-This is my own personal tip, fill out your official Shark Tank Application paperwork ahead of time. The questions in that packet will not only help prep you for your pitch, but it will save you time and stress when you arrive. We saw several people in a frenzy racing to get all the paperwork in order.
Our pitch was ready. We had a place for the kids to go overnight because we’d be leaving 4:30am and any parent will tell you it’s near impossible to get to school on time. I wasn’t letting anything stop us from leaving early, including our adorably slow sloth children. I packed their bags, our game, our paperwork, snacks, drinks and breakfast. I had a list for my lists. We were ready.
Barely able to sleep, we tossed and turned together until 3:50am when our alarm went off and we were on the road at 4:37am, headed for Chicago with two goals in mind. Spend less than an hour in bumper to bumper traffic and be in the first 100 people to pitch. We arrived a little before 7 with only 15 minute real bumper to bumper traffic, and we we’re number 136 (as seen in the wrist band above), which was actually 36 (the 1 was silent). The mounting stress and tension that I had felt the weeks and days before melted away. Even though I knew we wouldn’t be auditioning in front of the actual Shark Tank Cast (You know, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Kevin O’Leary, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, and Barbara Corcoran) I had worked myself into a nervous frenzy, constant stomach ache, couldn’t sleep, and I was not a nice person to be around. Jake and the kids were saints to deal with me.
We had made it, and our line buddies were fantastic( shout out to BoxTown ). They shared what they knew about the process and they shared tips on getting into retailers like target and Walmart. Our line buddies were easy to talk to and helped spend the time in line with easy jokes, and friendly conversation. The tension eased even more. Before we knew it we were going through security and being ushered in a large room with about 100 seats.
At this point I send Jake back to the car to get our shirts (they were white and I was terrified one of us was going to spill on them). The head person in charge gave us a quick talk. She said that while each pitch should be 60 seconds, that they were flexible as long as you were respectful of their time. Be yourself, if you need to read notes, that’s ok, it’s not like you’re on TV. They want to know who you are, not the numbers of your industry, not your sales, you and your product. You are trying out for Shark Tank, not money tank, so keep your evaluation realistic and within reason. I had a chance to glance around the room and see some of the other potential Shark Tank products. There were cell phone apps, what appeared to be a Doc Oc type vacuum, a young girl was holding a mannequin leg (I never found out what that was about!) and maybe what might be a portable or strap on gym of some type. The voyeur in me was fascinated.
The numbers ticked away quickly reaching our grouping. We steeled ourselves as we waited for the next table to be open. We were directed to Room 5, a deep breath to collect our thoughts, and we launched into our presentation. We gave our best, had the gentleman laughing, and left him with a Mash that Jake had drawn (as part of our presentation) and a hilarious eye catching photo of a Doodle Mash creature brought to life similar to this one:
On our way out we ran into our friend Kane and his sister in line for the their business, Post Shields. We chatted with them for a few minutes, and then headed out into the Windy City for a late brunch. After eating a much needed delicious brunch, we set out on foot to digest the day as well as our food. Since the creation of Doodle Mash, we have gone for walks together to discuss all things involved.
We set out to the streets, laughing and talking quietly, and while we walked we stumbled upon an old firehouse with the words ART STUDIO in large bold print across the front. The large garage doors were open, so we walked in and looked around. There were several shelves lined with glass art, artists doing glass blowing on both sides, and a few people walking about. We were greeted by a young guy who told us that he was part of Project Fire (Fearless Initiative for Recovery and Empowerment) which is an artist development employment program that offers healing through glassblowing, mentoring, and trauma psychoeducation to support trauma recovery and create jobs for youth injured by violence. He showed us his art work, we shared with him why we were in Chicago, and we talked with Pearl Dick who told us more about Art Reach and Project Fire. If you have time, I encourage you to check out their website, Project Fire,very inspiring stuff. We thanked them for their time, and left even more humbled and inspired by where the day’s events had taken us. Exhausted yet exhilarated, we started our pilgrimage home. Greeted by equally exhausted children (Grandma knows how to wear them out!) we retold our day over a simple dinner, and collapsed into bed.
If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank, they talk about the dreamers that are entrepreneurs, and we got to have a day with other dreamers. I can still feel that feeling as I write this, months later; excitement, hope, fear, anticipation, Christmas day, a birthday, first day of school, and honestly more than I can put into words. The ideas, businesses, and products varied as much as the individuals that created them. From start up prototypes to things I’ve seen in stores, it was all there, and the overarching theme was go for your dreams, no matter what stage in the process you may be, anything is possible. I encourage anyone with a small business or idea that fits to try. While we don’t know what what will come of our adventure, and from what I hear even if we do know, we won’t be able to share, attending a Shark Tank Open Call was a great experience. We had both agree when we first started on this Doodle Mash boardgame adventure that no matter what happened, we wanted to have fun, I mean, games are suppose to be fun right? At each step we stop and evaluate, are we having fun? We’ll randomly ask one another, are you having fun? Sometimes it’s a slow yes, an internal evaluation of the feels, and other times, like this time, it was a loud resounding, YES.
I am not affiliated with any of these links or products, but I want to share where I got some of my information.