Dive into the shark tank, and you might just emerge with $100,000 and Mark Cuban as your new best friend.
At least, that’s the shorthand version of the outcome from last Friday’s episode of Shark Tank, in which Seattle startup You Kick Ass appeared on the show. You Kick Ass, which can take any photo and make you into a superhero action figure, walked away with “The Gamechanger” Cuban as their investor: $100,000 for a 10 percent stake in their company.
What put them over the top? Cuban said he sees You Kick Ass as more than a manufacturer. He sees them as a “tech company,” with proprietary software that he can help them develop. (Previously on GeekWire: Want to be a superhero action figure? This startup is making it happen)
Here, one of the You Kick Ass creators, Keri Andrews, tells GeekWire what it was like pitching to the Sharks and why she ultimately chose Cuban:
What was the experience like?
It was both exhilarating and very nerve-wracking! Presenting to the Sharks was scary because we’ve seen them tear apart so many other entrepreneurs on the show. Then after we taped the show, we had to wait to see if they would air it. So many things can happen that would prevent them from showing our segment, so we had to balance between preparing for the show while trying not to over-prepare in case things fell through.
How did you choose your Shark, and what do you hope to gain from the experience/investment?
We did our research before we presented to the Sharks so that we knew what each Shark’s strengths were. We were hoping to strike a deal with someone who would understand technology and would also be able to connect us with other companies we could potentially partner with.
Were you surprised you got so many offers, and why do you think Mark Cuban is the best fit?
Our main goal was to not make fools of ourselves on national television. We were ecstatic to get three offers! Mark seemed to be particularly strong with licensing deals and software, and we had heard that he’s very visible in promoting the businesses he works with. We had watched enough episodes of Shark Tank to know that Mark does not bluff when he says he won’t give any further offers, and also that if a Shark offers you what you asked for, you’d better take it or things can go downhill very quickly. So when Mark offered what we had asked for, we took it.
I think any one of them would have been great, frankly. Robert [Herjavec] and Lori [Greiner] were so great on the show. I wish we could have done a deal with multiple Sharks. The deal that Kevin [O’Leary] presented to us would have taken money out of the company upfront, and that would have been challenging for us, but he knows both technology and toys, so I’d say they all had really positive qualities.
What has happened since the show aired in terms of your business?
I don’t think most people realized this, but the show filmed back in September. When we presented to the Sharks, we were still creating our product and we were fairly early on in the process, but we’ve now launched our product and made a bunch of improvements to it. We took the feedback from the Sharks to make our product better, and now we’re pretty happy with the results. You can see updated photos on our website and place orders now.
Watch the ladies of You Kick Ass present to the Sharks below: