Whether you’re the founder of a full-fledged company, or have ever just had an inkling of a startup idea, you’ve likely fantasized about entering the Shark Tank.
The opportunity to pitch to the likes of esteemed entrepreneurs like Lori Greiner, Mark Cuban, Kevin ‘O Leary amongst others, is one that less than one percent of people who begin the process achieve.
Besomebody, however, founded by Kash Shaikh, is one of the fortuitous companies that made it to this illustrious final stage.
While the extraordinary experience, at times was not what Shaikh expected it to be, ultimately the exposure, the amount of downloads and having Greiner sport a Besomebody t-shirt, made it one he’ll not soon forget.
Besomebody just made an appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank. What were the initial steps taken in achieving this exclusive and highly sought after opportunity?
We met the Shark Tank producers when we were at NY TechDay this past April, and it wasn’t even a planned thing for me to audition. I remember seeing 1000s of people in line to give this one minute pitch to the the show’s producers, and I just felt there were way too many people, I’m not gonna do this. Beyond that, I figured Besomebody really didn’t fit the mold of a typical “Shark Tank” product.
However what ended up happening, when TechDay was about to end, the line substantially thinned out. At that point I figured, “You know what? I’m going to give it a try. Why not?” I was literally the last person to pitch the producers.
So I gave my one minute pitch and the producers were actually really interested in it and they asked me a bunch of questions. I ended up being back there about twenty minutes and that was the longest they said they talked to anyone. They were really into our story, our app and our background and I had a good feeling about it.
From there it was a whirlwind. Literally only seven weeks later I was in Los Angeles pitching Besomebody to the Sharks.
On the show, a lot of the companies utilize sort of gimmicky tactics to impress the producers. In your original pitch at TechDay, did you have any extraneous bells and whistles to garner more attention from the producers?
Since this wasn’t initially planned, I just walked in there with only our product and and our story and that was about it. I gave my little one minute pitch, talking about who we are, what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. After my minute was up, the producers asked to see my product which gave me the opportunity to pull out my iPhone and demo our app. They were super excited by it and then from there, we began the all the stages and steps required before finally pitching to the Sharks.
What steps did you take to perfect your pitch in preparation of meeting the Sharks?
Shark Tank is a reality TV show. I would say that the experience and the process is not much like a typical VC meeting. VC meetings are much more structured and respectful to a conversation.Shark Tank, on the other hand, is a little crazy, with each Shark asking questions all at the same time. And in the end, the producers decide how they want to edit the episode. While there are some actual questions that they ask that are very relevant to a business or venture capital meeting, the show is more focused on providing entertainment value for the viewers. Hours of taping and pitching is condensed into a short, compelling segment.
The goal of the producers is to create the most entertaining segment possible and to get the most views, and they do a good job of that. That lack of control is definitely something to think about before pitching the show.
Despite all of that, we were excited about the opportunity because Shark Tank provides a global stage of 5 million viewers. The awareness and the exposure were completely worth it, deal or no deal.
So you didn’t prepare a traditional VC pitch for the show?
I’ve pitched VC’s and raised capital before, so I leveraged that experience into what we felt was a compelling pitch. And we prepped for weeks, going over hundreds of questions that we thought the Sharks may ask. Just like with any investment meeting, we prepped to talk through the business model, the revenue stream, customer acquisition, marketing strategy, how do you scale, etc. What viewers see on TV may or may not include everything that was discussed.
We're really grateful for the opportunity. Our episode was one of the highest rated and most viewed of the past couple seasons and the Shark Tank team did a great job with the teasers and the build up. There’s definitely some parts of the experience I thought were awesome and some I thought were not so awesome. But ultimately I was grateful for the opportunity and for the exposure.
Are the nerves as real as they seem on TV those moments before walking up to the Sharks?
I think so, you know you’re still walking down that hall, meeting the Sharks for the first time so that part is real. Your work up until that moment is with the producers and rest of the team, so you’re truly not meeting that Sharks until that first moment.
For me, I was less nervous and more just really excited, energized and pumped up for the opportunity. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and less than one percent of people who begin this process actually get to pitch to the Sharks. So it's definitely something I will always remember.
How has the experience worked to get you in touch with other users and investors?
We had about 100,000 people visit our site that night, which was a huge jump and our traffic has stayed about ten times its normal level since then. Our app had a record number of downloads, we got contacted by multiple angel investors and VC firms who loved what we talked about and what we shared. I just talked to one this morning actually.
What’s interesting is how the timing played out because we were actually in the middle of a product pivot right around the time I auditioned at TechDay. Because of how quickly everything happened, we weren’t able to share our newest product. The show enabled us to get even more people connected to our company and our community, which will be a big help as we move forward with our new product.
How do you plan on keeping the momentum going and building off the hype you garnered from this experience?
I think right now we’re capturing as many people and as many contacts as we can by the people coming to our site, and really pumping out our content strategy. We put out inspirational videos once a week that really serve as our content marketing engine for our brand. The one we put out right before Shark Tank is now at seven million views already. We put one out a couple of days ago that we think is probably going to crack a million views at the rate it’s at. We’re really trying to leverage the added eyeballs to get people inspired by what Besomebody stands for and get them excited about the products and technology we’re building.
The big thing that we’re focused on now is what we’re calling our Learning Paths. The Besomebody Learning paths take what we learned from our existing product, but flips the model on how people learn and pursue careers. Everything we have learned over the last couple of years about in person learning experiences has enabled us to build really quickly with this new product which is really awesome. It’s a vocational training marketplace that gives people the skills they need to get jobs. It’s expert-led, and 100% experiential learning. We launch it in early 2017, and it’s going to be a great culmination to a wild 12 months!