The whole crazy adventure began with a commercial on TV promoting a variety of events under the title L.A. Live at the Convention Center. Basically they were auditions to become contestants on non-scripted/game shows. The one that interested me was SHARK TANK. I’d been a fan of the show for years. In case you’ve never watched it, entrepreneurs seek investments in their businesses from billionaires, a.k.a. The Sharks. The billionaires are very smart people and can smell the weaknesses in a business like blood in the water. They are merciless in questioning the investment seekers.
I didn’t have a business. I didn’t have a product. I didn’t even have a prototype! And, of course, I didn’t have a patent. No proof of concept sales history. No data on margins or the cost of acquiring customers. All things The Sharks would ask me about. I’m at a loss to explain it now, but not of that phased me. I had an idea for a great product.
Dave was off playing golf so I thought, why not? I dressed and stopped at the drug store to buy the things I needed to make a prototype of my product idea. I was very excited while I made the long drive into the city. Upon arriving at the Convention Center, I immediately went to the auditorium where two of The Sharks would listen to and question people seeking investments. They were due to appear in about two hours. I sat on the floor beside the metal doors. First in line. I assembled my prototype and then practiced my pitch. When I felt I had that down pat, I played games on my iPad.
Quite a crowd had lined up behind me and, when the doors opened, there was a lot of pushing and shoving. Fortunately my first in line position put me half a step in front of all that. I dashed down the aisle and got the front row, center seat. That, along with my red blouse and white hair would make me hard to miss.
Daymond John and Mark Cuban took the stage along with Sam Rubin, who would call on people to make their presentations. Each time Sam Rubin looked for a new presenter, I practically came out of my seat waving my hand and saying Oooh and Ahhh! Finally he called on me.
I strode, as professionally as possible, up to the microphone and held up my product. I’d glued one of those travel tooth brushes onto the inside of the cap of a travel size bottle of mouth wash. The toothbrush dangled in the mouth wash liquid. But first I held up a regular travel toothbrush.
I said, Mr. Cuban or Mr. John, if you needed to clean your teeth before an important meeting, you wouldn’t want to use my toothbrush, would you?” They laughed and exchanged questioning looks.
I said, “It’s mine and I wouldn’t want to use it either because the last time I did, it was after I’d had tacos for lunch.” I threw the toothbrush on the floor. Both Sharks laughed. Then I held up my toothbrush and mouth wash combination. “But this toothbrush has been soaking in mouth wash since I the last time I used it. It’s clean and fresh. Ready to use.”
At this point, they could have excoriated me. But they didn’t. Mark Cuban asked me how long I’d been working on my product. I looked at my watch and said, “A couple of hours.” That got a laugh. I’d seen Shark Tank often enough to know they could turn on a dime and tear me to shreds. But they didn’t. Mr. John suggested I apply for a patent and then contact toothbrush manufacturers or mouth wash manufactures to find out if they’d be interested in adding my product to their line. They said the process of getting the patent is expensive, but they liked my idea well enough to suggest I give it a try.
That was it. No life changing deal. Not that I had expected one. But I knew what The Sharks must have known immediately. I was not a business woman. But I was sad that my career as an entrepreneur was over so quickly.
I would have enjoyed the social entree that goes along with being a successful business woman. I’ve known many successful business people and I love talking to them. Not about business. Business scares the heck out of me. But, whatever it is that makes people successful in business, also gives them a very unusual take on life in general. As the saying goes, “It’s fun to pick their brains.”
I said, “Thank you. For your time.” And went back to my seat.
I’d taken off on that morning on an impulse and without expectations. Yet I felt weirdly satisfied. And elated. I called all my friends during the drive home and told them about my adventure.