What’s it like to pitch Shark Tank producers? Iowa entrepreneurs share

Last week ABC reality show "Shark Tank" hosted an open casting call in Des Moines and more than 100 entrepreneurs and inventors turned out for an opportunity to swim with the sharks. It's still too soon to say if any of the companies that pitched last Monday will make it on to the show's taping.

Last week ABC reality show “Shark Tank” hosted an open casting call in Des Moines and more than 100 entrepreneurs and inventors turned out for an opportunity to swim with the sharks. 

It’s still too soon to say if any of the companies that pitched last Monday will make it on to the show’s taping. But in the meantime, we asked a couple Iowa entrepreneurs who came out for the event to tell us, in their own words, about the experience and what they learned from pitching the producers of “Shark Tank.”

Dustin Hemesath, founder of GolfRz (Des Moines)

1 a.m. — I have not slept… not sure if it’s because my kids don’t sleep or because I am so anxious for tomorrow morning’s “Shark Tank” audition.

4:00 a.m. — Out of bed and on my way down to get in line. Don’t want to be too late to make the first 100 in line as rumors were they were only listening to the first 100.

In line now for 2.5 hours talking with all of the great entrepreneurs who have amazing product ideas up and down the line. Waiting and waiting thinking about my pitch and what other things I should be getting done while waiting in line.

9 a.m. — We just received our wristbands and I am No. 27 and only one hour left. After making our way into the main hall, we sat down and listened to Scott, the main producer, talk about the next steps and really trying to lighten the mood in the room.

After another 20 minutes it was finally my turn to pitch. This was one of the most difficult pitches I have ever prepared for in that this was what I considered to be the “elevator pitch of a lifetime.” Sixty seconds to show my personality and my product to be one of the 0.5 percent who make it on the show.

In the end, the casting crew was very pleasant, casual and nothing like any investors I had ever pitched to in the past.

Ryan Martinez, Base3 organizer & co-founder of ClockWork (Sioux City)

Being an entrepreneur involved in startups, a 60-second pitch becomes second nature. Entrepreneurs pitch to everyone from family members to major investors. Entrepreneurship is all about opportunities and my 60-second pitch gave me a chance to be on “Shark Tank.”

On July 14, my buddies and I loaded up the car for the chance of a lifetime. The Shark Tank casting call was coming to Des Moines. After arriving at 9 a.m. sharp, we were greeted with hundreds of other entrepreneurs with the same dream.

As I took my number and place in line, I began rambling off that 60-second pitch to make sure I had it perfect. After getting positive feedback from my friends, I knew I couldn’t be more prepared.

At 10 a.m., the doors opened and we were informed of the judging process. Each presenter gave his or her pitch in front of one of the many judges. Multiple pitches were happening at one time, all in one room!

My pitch was for the startup ClockWork, a timecard management mobile/web app increasing payroll efficiency by verifying employee attendance per job site in the construction industry. With positive feedback I received from the judges, I already knew I’d won.

Winning for me is being better than I was the day before. Traveling hundreds of miles for an opportunity to test my startup and presentation skills was a win, but the cherry on top would be a chance to pitch to the Sharks. Whether I receive the awaited phone call or not, I am grateful to have the opportunity to better myself.

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