So What was My Shark Tank Synthetic Ice Experience Like?
The question I'm asked most often can be answered in one simple word....Incredible! From the day I submitted my email entry to the Shark Tank executive producers until my scheduled air date had to be...no doubt.... one of the shortest and longest years of my life. Longest because throughout the process I couldn't tell anybody and shortest because so much took place during that year it's all a blur but I can tell you it was truly a great experience. After submitting my December, 2015 email and not having heard back from anyone for over four months I honestly forgot all about it. Then the call this entreprenuer's been waiting for came in April, 2016 asking, "So tell me about your synthetic ice panels" and that's when it all began.
Video Submission Deadline
The phone interview lasted all of about fifteen minutes and at the end of the conversation I was told "congratulations you made it to the video submission round." This next step involved producing a five-minute video submission explaining my product in an effort to wow the producers with my story. I had only a few short minutes to tell how PolyGlide Ice became a manufacturer of the best artificial ice on the market. I had only two weeks to complete the production as there were deadlines they were facing on their end. After submitting my video a week later I got another call with saying "Congratulations the producers loved your video and you're being considered for the show" however nothing's ever guaranteed in the television world.
Ice Skating Into "The Tank"
After continuing through with the process I was lucky enough to get my break and get a chance to pitch to the sharks. Once I was assigned a producer I had to create the draft of my first pitch which I thought I nailed until I read it to my shark tank producer. Lets just say my opening sentence was great but it was back to the drawing board for the remainder of the pitch until I got it right. It was obvious the synthetic ice panels were going to provide the visual attraction and having youth hockey players skating into the tank only added to the visual.
Time to Pitch to The Sharks
Fast forward to to August and final preparations are underway involving all the final details right down to the set design and travel arrangements. At this point it's finaly official.....I'm going to pitch to the SHARKS!! (or am I?). The simple fact is even though your given the opportunity to pitch only 40-50% of all Shark Tank pitches ever make it on air. In fact contestants have to wait until just a few weeks before their "air date" to even confirm if they have an air date ...and throughout the process you can tell NO ONE!
Shark Tank Season 8 , Episode 11
My pitch date was set for September 20th, 2016 (season 8, episode 11) and after going through the whole process trust me when I say I was beyond ready. The common question is always "Were you nervous?" and I can honestly say I was much more excited than nervous. As it turned out because of the large synthetic ice set design I was to be the first pitch of the day and the Sharks were wide awake waiting for their first 'taste of the day". Once the countdown began there was no turning back 3, 2, 1.....ACTION! All in all the entire pitch lasted about 45 minutes from which was trimmed down to 8-1/2 minutes of non-stop air time. WIth the average 30 second prime commercial costing around $400,000.00 that would put me about 6.8 Million dollars ahead of the game......Deal or no Deal.
Let the Pitch Begin
After my opening pitch things started at a rapid fire pace with the Sharks often talking over each other with their questions. My engineer who traveled with me was in the green room and said it looked like I was watching a tennis match as my head spun on a swivel snapping back and forth addressing the fast pace of the questions. There were many comical moments and smiles that were edited out from the pitch which took on a more serious tone in the final cut but the feedback from the Sharks along with retaining 100% of my company along with the valuable exposure was much more than I could ever ask for.
In the end I can tell you if you're an entreprenuer that is ready to take the next step and put it all out there.... try out for Shark Tank. Even though I didn't get a deal the experience can be life-changing and can help take your business to the next level. If by chance you don't make it on the show then I recommend you pitch your company to both your friends and strangers whenever you can get the chance. Their feedback will help steer you in the right direction and help you better understand your customers and make the best decisions for you company and product.
Jim Loughran, AFter Buzz TV Interview: After the Tank