Please note: This is the second in a three-part article series recounting my experiences on ABC’s Shark Tank, adapted from my new book Pocket Man. You can read part one – how I got on Shark Tank – here. My episode – season 3, episode 7 – was the highest rated up to that point, and is still considered to be one of the most controversial episodes in Shark Tank history. There is an unofficial version posted to YouTube here (while it lasts) and it is available on iTunes. Well worth the money.
Getting on Shark Tank was not nearly as hard as preparing to be on Shark Tank.
Months of dieting. Dozens of presentation drafts. Hundreds of hours gaming out all the questions they could ask me, and how to redirect them in a way that would allow me to communicate the points I needed to get across.
I’ve been creating videos as the face of my multi-pocket, gadget-friendly clothing company SCOTTeVEST for years, so I’m definitely comfortable in front of the camera… even for major interviews. Being on Shark Tank is completely different, and while Shark Tank is in no way scripted (other than the entrepreneur’s initial pitch), there is A LOT that can be done in editing to tell the story they want to tell….
…which is why I am a hero to half the Shark Tank audience, and a villain to the other half. This is how it happened.
As Seen On Shark Tank
I would love to give you a blow-by-blow account of what happened on the screen in my episode (which is not necessarily what happened during filming), but it would be easier for you to watch a few minutes of an unofficial recording of the episode on YouTube, or find an official version on iTunes.
Here is a brief overview of what appeared on screen in front of 8 million viewers…
The doors of the Shark Tank studio open and I walk confidently through them and past the camera into the main room. The voiceover explains that I am Scott Jordan and that I am here to entice the Sharks with the patent to my clothing technology.
The camera shows reaction shots of each of the Sharks – Barbara Corcoran, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary and Mark Cuban – intercut with my pitch. My ask: $500,000 investment for 15% of my company, TEC-Technology Enabled Clothing®.
I demonstrate some of the special features of my vest, and I conclude by saying, “I’ve told you about my pockets. Now it’s time for you to reach deep into yours.”
Right off the bat, Robert mentions that he was flipping through a magazine and recently saw one of our ads, thinking the product was a great idea. I respond to him that it was indeed our ad, and it is a great concept, but the bigger idea is the intellectual property behind the clothing line that can be licensed to other companies.
When I clarify that my successful retail business is NOT part of my appearance onShark Tank, you could hear a pin drop in the studio. The camera cut to the Sharks’ reactions and there is some mixture of disappointment and confusion across their faces. I again clarify that the intellectual property – and the rights to license that IP – is what is on the table, and a voice over reinforces that again for the home audience.
Kevin still likes the potential of my company, particularly since it can involve patent litigation to defend it. Daymond has been on the other side of patent litigation with his clothing line, so he’s clearly on the fence. Other than a few laughs, Mark Cuban has remained quiet until this point.
That changes right now when he shouts, “That is ridiculous! That is just ridiculous! That’s just common sense!… that’s what’s killing this country… dumbass patents!” and throws back his head in disbelief.
I’m taken a little aback, but I keep my cool and try to defuse his outburst. I understand where he’s coming from, because admittedly my patent IS obvious, but it’s also mine. This is when I let it out that I am a former lawyer and hate frivolous litigation.
This is the point of no return.
I fire back with a fact: creating unique ideas, patenting them, and defending them is what this country is built on.
Reining It In
Everyone on screen seems to take a breath as Robert very calmly takes the reins and restates the facts of what I am offering. Daymond is concerned that without a piece of the retail end of the business, the growth of the licensing end could be eclipsed, and they would be stuck with a piece of a much smaller pie.
I assure him that everything is negotiable. I am here to negotiate.
Robert makes an offer: $500K for 15% of the patent business AND the retail business.
I respond with an incredulous, “You’ve got to be kidding me… that is insane,” which he shrugs off. The math of that deal would mean that my retail business was only worth about $3 million if 15% of it was worth $500K. Yearly sales were over four times that total valuation at the time.
Kevin makes a few offers of his own: he’s willing to go in with Robert on the original offer, or if Robert is willing to go in with him, double the offer. In other words, $1 million for 30% of my patent and retail businesses. He is also willing to match Robert’s offer if I would rather work with him.
I tell them that I need to make a phone call to speak to someone on my advisory board: Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. I explain the situation to Woz, and he agrees that their offer is not enough. Almost every second of our phone call made it to air.
After the call, I give the Sharks an opportunity to reconsider their offers, and explain to them what I discussed with Woz: their offers are just too low. I want to give them a chance to make a more reasonable offer, but as we start talking again, it’s clear that we are not going to come to an agreement.
At this point, I motion to Kevin and Robert and tell them that they are “out.” If this is their best offer, I don’t need them. Kevin reminds me that I’m walking away from a million dollars, but it’s too late and I am not regretting anything.
Daymond jumps in that he feels like I didn’t come to make a deal and I wasted their time. I am shown clapping my hands together, saying “bye bye” and walking out the doors without shaking anyone’s hands.
The episode closes with me speaking into the camera. I say, “I went in looking for a deal. I truly did, but unfortunately the valuation they put on my other company combine was just… insulting. I had no other choice. I had to walk.”
The credits roll and the episode ends.
The Day of Filming
Whether you saw my episode or just read the description of what made it to air, you either thought I was an arrogant jerk just looking for free publicity… or hopefully you thought I was a brilliant businessman who would not let the Sharks push me around.
In reality, it was a little from column A and a lot from column B, but the way it was stitched together in the editing suite certainly skewed the perception away from “savvy” and toward “obnoxious.”
While I wasn’t as sweet as Mary Poppins in there, I was no more Sharky than the Sharks. They had just never gotten a taste of their own medicine. If you want to watch, I recorded a couple hours of background information and have it posted at www.scottevest.com/sharktank.
Truth be told, I was nervous. Really nervous. Filming was done in the back of this huge hangar of a studio. Guests got ready in a curtained-off section at one end, and filming took place on the other side. You could have parked a 747 in the space in between. Talk about intimidating.
They had come to get me from the hotel around 4AM, but it wasn’t until early afternoon when filming began. That’s a lot of time to get lost in your own thoughts. I chatted with another entrepreneur in the waiting area, but we were both going over our own pitches to ourselves again and again and again. Oh yeah, I totally forgot it one time. I know it was just nerves, but that didn’t make it any better.
Before you go in for filming, there was a part of the set where they shoot the guest looking nervous and jittery. After being brought there, the producer asked me to act nervous for the camera. Then, she asked me to stop looking so nervous. I felt like Will Ferrell in that SNL sketch where he cannot modulate the tone or volume of his voice… but it was my nervousness that couldn’t be dialed back. They didn’t wind up using any of that footage.
On top of it all, my arm was killing me. I had fractured my elbow the day before, and it was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done. I’ve had this Razor scooter for years, and I thought it would be neat to get a little ride on it with my poodles pulling me down the street. They thought it was lots of fun, and I did too, until I hit a pothole and flew over the handlebars and onto my elbow. At least I didn’t lose any teeth.
I tried to shake it off and paced back and forth, racing as fast as my mind was. I almost ran into the janitor who had walked into the path I was pacing into his floors.
“What did you have for breakfast?” he asked. His face was dead serious.
It was a nonsensical question. Was this guy crazy? Was he serious?
“What did you have for breakfast?” he repeated.
“Uhhh… bacon, eggs. Toast. Ummm, coffee.”
“Good!” he said, and went about his business. Turns out, it was a test. The producers wanted to make sure I had my wits about me. Some people “pull a deer in the headlights” when they hit the studio, and they wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to freak out. It seemed like a possibility at the time.
It also let me know that they were willing to play some mind games with me….
As soon as I went in to the studio, it was game time, and I was in control. Well, except for when the video monitor with graphics to add punch to my presentation didn’t work, and the producers cut me off in the middle of my pitch. Then again. And again. It finally worked, and I was able to get through the initial pitch. The rest would be Q&A.
I did a full demo of the SCOTTeVEST, pulling out just about every gadget and showing off every feature. If they had shown me pulling my stuff out of the vest, it would have changed the future of SCOTTeVEST… but they didn’t. It was cut from the final edit.
What They Left on the Cutting Room Floor
I feel that the segment the public saw on Shark Tank needs some context; there was a lot the public did not see from the interaction. The 60 minutes that I was in the tank was edited down to around 20. ABC, in the end, is trying to make good TV, and no one can blame them for doing that job well (which begs the question, was my episode just a publicity stunt for them?).
Granted, that is not the whole story, and to blame editing entirely would be a cop-out. What you saw were my honest reactions in the midst of a heated debate. I really did call Robert’s initial offer insane, and I did tell Robert and Kevin they were out. I argued fiercely with Mark Cuban about intellectual property rights (he later indicated in a podcast that he made it his mission to make me cry), about standing by my patent and about the essential “American-ness” of the patent system.
But let’s put this in perspective. How many times have you seen entrepreneurs – people who are really starting out, who have a great idea and need guidance and money – flounder into the tank and get taken advantage of?
The difference between my segment and most others is that I am a businessman and that I was willing and able to engage the Sharks in a serious business interaction.
I most definitely wanted to strike a deal with one or more of them, to get TEC off the ground as a licensing company with much more to offer than a single patent for a wire management system. But I was not about to turn wobbly kneed, forget why I was there, and sell away part of the company that my wife and I have put our hearts and souls into for over ten years.
Every time I watch the episode (which is not as many times as some people would like to believe), I see something else – I remember what happened to induce a reaction, or I think about what one of the Sharks said that set me off. I see the moments in which I appear arrogant, and knowing myself, I see what I really was: cornered.
A good friend of mine wrote after he watched the show: “[you] come across as a guy who just loves his company and product…” I am a guy who loves his company and his product, and in those moments, I was a guy who saw that company threatened.
Those Sharks are persuasive personalities, and they are powerful people. From a businessman’s perspective, these are the people we look up to. The pressures add up – the intimidation factor, the thrill of being in the company of the Sharks – but as the Sharks and the rest of America learned, I would not be bullied into taking a bad deal.
The Bottom Line
I entered the Shark Tank with a deal that I thought was reasonable.
The Sharks wanted something else, however. What ensued was an aggressive negotiation between equals, and we ended up not making a deal – it is that simple. No one on that panel is involved in the future of TEC or SCOTTeVEST, but I am confident that the future is bright for both.
The issues that arose during the filming – about protecting intellectual property, about the value of my licensing subsidiary, and about what it means to negotiate in business – are very serious to me.
Whether I was ultimately portrayed as a hero or a villain on Shark Tank, one thing is clear: it was DAMN good television!
For even more stories about my approach to business, check out my top-rated book, Pocket Man.
If you want to learn more or just enjoy my “reality show” life, follow me on Facebook.
ABOUT SCOTT JORDAN and SCOTTeVEST
Scott Jordan is the CEO and Founder of SCOTTeVEST, which creates multi-pocket clothing designed to carry electronics. He is the author of Pocket Man: The Unauthorized Autobiography of a Passionate, Personal Promoter.
Read a sample of Scott’s book for more about his experience on Shark Tank and the pocket empire he has built.