If you are an entrepreneur, investor, or simply an individual who enjoys a suspenseful reality TV series, then you likely have watched at least an episode or two of Shark Tank. The ABC reality TV series debuted in 2009 and continues its strong run 6 years later. Starring entrepreneurs and investors such as Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran and Robert Harjavec, fellow budding entrepreneurs are able to pitch their startups on prime time television as they seek funding to take their companies to the next level.
As you are fully aware, if you follow our site, 3D printing has offered numerous opportunities for individuals to launch successful startups, taking advantage of the rapid developments within the industry. In fact, we ourselves are one of these startups.
On last evening’s episode of Shark Tank, the very last company to pitch their idea to the panel certainly caught our attention. Some of you may be familiar with You Kick Ass, a company which was successfully funded on Kickstarter last year to the tune of over $46,000. You Kick Ass turns ordinary 2D photos of their customers into their very own personalized action figures. Users simply select a body style, upload a single photo to the You Kick Ass website, and the proprietary software and 3D printers do the rest.
Founders Alesia Glidewell and Keri Andrews wanted to take their company to the next level, as they sought a $100,000 investment at a valuation of $1 million from the Shark Tank panel. With the new funding they would be able to expand their marketing reach and commence full-scale operations.
The segment of the show began with both Glidewell and Andrews introducing themselves. Glidewell used to be a voice-over artist and motion capture model, and she learned a great deal about 3D modeling from this experience. Andrews, on the other hand, worked for Microsoft and their Bing search engine, learning a great deal about how search algorithms work and how to drive traffic to a website for marketing purposes.
The two women then went on to reveal some key statistics behind their business model. First they noted that it costs, on average, just $15 for each action figure, once the cost of the body and the 3D printed head are accounted for. They then turn around and sell each figurine for approximately $60. Mark Cuban then asked what their manufacturing capacity was. Andrews noted that each printer would be able to print approximately 100 heads per day, and that the printers cost around $45,000 new, or $20,000 pre-owned. They also revealed the surprising detail that most of their clients are individuals between the ages of 30 and 45, not children like many on the panel would have guessed. As for the initial investment put forth by the founders, they estimated it to be around $120,000, which was primarily used for software development. Once the key details were provided, it was then time for those on the panel to offer their feedback prior to any offers they may have wished to make.
Barbara Corcoran was rather disappointed in the overall resemblance of the 3D printed face to her own face, stating, “Can I address the resemblance because I don’t think these heads look like us… Precision is key to the sale on this and until it’s perfected I think you might have a lot of returns.”
She also went on to address the fact that there was a large seam where the printed head connected to the body, an issue that she saw as a possibly turnoff to customers. Cuban agreed that this could be an issue as well. After these concerns were put forth by the investors, it was then time for those who were interested to make their offers. The following offers were received:
- Robert Herjavec, who thought his action figure looked quite a lot like him, offered funding at a valuation of just $400,000 ($100,000 for a 25% stake)
- Kevin O’Leary loved the idea but wanted to change the terms up a bit. He offered to value the company at $2 million (instead of $1 million) providing $100k for only a 5% stake but then take a $10 royalty from every figure sold until his initial investment was recouped.
The ball was now in the Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban’s court. Coming from a software background, Cuban understood the value of a sophisticated proprietary software like the one behind You Kick Ass’s business model. Surprising the other investors, he immediately came out and agreed to the terms that both Andrews and Glidewell were seeking ($100,000 for a 10% stake), provided that they take the deal immediately without hearing from the other investors on the panel.
Needless to say, the two women gladly accepted.
“It’s exciting, this is going to be awesome. We’ll do some stuff with the Mavs, we’ll help you with the software, we’ll have a lot of fun,” Cuban told the women.
“We went with Mark because we felt he would be a great partner,” explained Andrews. “He really seemed to understand that we were a technology company and he gave us what we asked for. I couldn’t be more excited.”
Certainly it’s exciting to see a name like Mark Cuban getting involved within this space. We would like to congratulate Glidewell, Andrews and the You Kick Ass team. Let’s hear your thoughts on this episode in the You Kick Ass Shark Tank forum thread on 3DPB.com.
The full Shark Tank episode may be viewed here.