“Shark Tank” entrepreneur Daymond John and his fellow shark, $2.5 billionaire Mark Cuban, are working out the details for their planned “Twittch” — that is, Twitter pitch — event April 9 at the Reality Rocks Expo at the L.A. Convention Center. Business wannabes will have the chance to pitch their products to the potential investors in 140 characters or less while the duo talks about the use of social media to build brands.
The FUBU founder and CEO admits that when he was starting out, he couldn’t have sold an investor in 140 characters. “I got turned down by 27 banks, so it didn’t matter whether I had 140 words or 140,000.”
Still, he’s into social networking for fun and profit now. He gets around 200 pitches via Facebook, Twitter and email per week, and “I do look at most of them. Mark Cuban says he’s backed products by people he’s never met through Twitter and e-mail. I’m not going to do that. I want to meet people before I give them any money.” As for whether any of those pitches have been effective, John says he’s consulting with a handful of people who began with an unsolicited pitch to help them develop their goods or services. Products from another few “are in my portfolio in case I meet with a company that might work a good deal with them.”
MEANWHILE: With Season 2 of “Shark Tank” underway, John has sharpened his game. Now, when he sees a product that he wants that other sharks also want, “whether I have a good or bad feeling about the shark, I’ll go for the jugular quicker.” Now, he has attorneys at the ready “so I’m better equipped to structure these deals.” John also has “strategic partners in place” to help him carry through deals faster.
He tells us he’s glad for the addition of recurring sharks Cuban and Jeff Foxworthy. “It makes it more fun and brings more eyeballs. When Jeff came in, we didn’t know what to expect, his having been in show business for more than 25 years. But you can’t be an idiot and be as successful as he is. We were like, ‘Wow. He gets it. He understands. He’s a businessman.’ We were pleasantly surprised.
“And with Mark, we expected him to come in and start throwing chairs and screaming,” he says of the fiery founder of HDNet and owner of the Landmark Theater chain and the Dallas Mavericks. “But he’s been great. He also created a different challenge in that he is perceived as Mr. Moneybags.” But that can be used against him, John believes. “I’ll say to people, ‘When you have to pay for the gas in his jumbo jet for him to come in for a meeting, what’s that going to do to your budget?’ And when you need to reach him and can only get his secretary, what are you going to do then?’ It’s all about playing a smart game.”
And for the sharks, it really is about the fun of playing the game, for, as John notes, none of them “has to work another day of our lives.”