I just got back from Charlotte, NC for my second Shark Tank audition. I recounted my experience from my first one last year in Raleigh, NC here. I learned a bit and felt much better about my pitch and how it went over. More details below…
You can find when they are doing auditions (they call them Casting Calls) on ABC’s Shark Tank website. There’s also some paperwork you need to download, complete and bring with you to the casting call. They usually release the schedule a few months in advance. When I was looking into this round of auditioning, there were calls in Charlotte, Detroit and NYC all around the same time (and they are all about the same distance away from me). Charlotte seemed like the best choice as far as ease of getting there and back, and the cost of staying there. Plus the weather was great!
According to the Google, Charlotte is about 6 hours away from where I live, so I got started around 3 pm on Friday, and got down there around 10pm (always budget for bio-breaks and construction). I also try to take some travel photos of the Card Caddy for our social media accounts, too, so that adds more time.
I stayed in a standard Motel 6 for the night that was about 10 minutes away from where the casting call was (the Central Piedmont Community College). I got up around 4:30, showered and put together the healthiest breakfast I could from a nearby convenience store (prepackaged grapes and a Fig Newton), and filled up on coffee and water.
I got to the site a little after 5am, and they had signs up and people already lined up along the sidewalk, so it was very clear where it would be. There was a parking deck right next door, and I got a spot on the first level about 10 spots from the entrance. It couldn’t have been more convenient.
So, I set up my chair in the next spot and estimated there were 40-50 people in front of me in line. That turned out to be about right since I was the 32nd pitch (many pitches had multiple people). In front of me in line was an engineering grad student who had an idea for a device that would break-away a trailer from the truck towing it in the event of an accident. Behind me was a woman who had invented a vocabulary card game to help kids learn word meanings and synonyms. Two people in front of me was a couple who had vitamin water for dogs, Petrol (I liked the name). I saw a boat dock connector, a couple of other boardgames, a wheelchair accessory, some kitchen products and some service companies.
I tried to get a game of cards going with my neighbors, but they didn’t seem to be in the mood, but I did get some obligatory social media shots. Otherwise, I chitchatted, napped, or read.
Right around 9am, the producers came out of the building and distributed the wristbands. They did groups of 100, I think, each group a different color. Since I was in the first 100, we would be going in at 10am to start pitching.
I think each color group was given a different time slot that they would be called into the building. Once you got your wrist band, you could go back to your car, drop your chairs off, get any props or anything you needed, and be back when your slot started. I walked back to the car to drop off my chair and it looked like there were probably another 200 people in line, snaked around the building.
Again, right around 10am, they started letting us into the building. There was a big meeting room set up where we waited. Mindy, the head producer, came in with four other producers (Mindy was probably mid30s, the others were in their 20s; 3 women and one man, if you’re interested) around 10:20 and gave us the rundown. I think the main points were:
- You have a minute to do your pitch, but there are no timers
- If you’re selected to move on, you’ll hear back in two weeks, but won’t hear back otherwise
- They won’t take samples or try food
- The producers are looking for your enthusiasm and personality – don’t get too wrapped up in the product or business details
She was friendly and funny, and then answered questions, then they went off to their rooms to hear pitches.
So we waited a bit more, and they would call us up in groups of 4 or 5 to wait in the hallway. There was time to socialize and do some more social media posting. Eventually, my group of numbers got called and I waited a few minutes in the hallway for the next producer. They were all in different rooms sitting a tables, which was nice since I was heard about casting calls where they are all in the same room and all of the pitches are going on at the same time. I ended up getting one of the women – I don’t think it really matters, since they are looking more for personality vs the product. I was happy that she was at a conference table which was pretty wide, so it worked well for pitching my product, since I could use the table to put stuff down on, but not be right in front of her.
All of that travel and waiting comes down to just a few minutes, and it goes by FAST! Here are some items that I came away with:
- Have your paperwork ready, so you can just hand it off and not be fumbling around with it disrupting your flow
- They say you only have a minute to do your pitch, but there are no timers, so take your time and get it out the way you want to
- Have that pitch down – since the words were really flowing out without me having to think about them, I was able to concentrate on creating more emphasis with my tone and body language. I really feel like my enthusiasm and personality were a lot better this time around
I did my pitch without getting interrupted (something I heard they may do), had good eye contact and good feedback from the producer. She asked these questions:
- Is it for sale? What are your sales numbers and where are you selling?
- What would I use the money for? (I said inventory, product expansion and trade show attendance). She then asked what kind of new products was I expecting, which was a nice way to show off stuff like the Triple Deckers and Dice Tower.
- How did I come up the idea and make it into a business?
And that was it. She said thanks and I’ll hear from them in two weeks if we go forward.
It was about 11:30, and there was no checkout or anything, so I just walked back to my car and was very hungry. I was looking for a brewpub, but nothing opened in the area until noon, so I drove a bit to Ghostface Brewing for some beer and wings. It was a good way to decompress.
And then, the long ride home. I took the scenic route through the center of West Vrigina, and it was a nice drive (it did add about two hours to the trip overall, though). I got home around 8:30pm and am just waiting for that email or phone call – wish me luck!