Good Morning New York City
Cassie and I are super fans of Shark Tank. I don’t use the label “super fan” lightly - we have seen every episode multiple times, we buy as many Shark Tank products as our bank accounts can handle, and we consume as much media about the Sharks as possible. (FYI Barbara Corcoran’s podcast, Business Unusual, is a must-listen and I hope you have a copy of Daymond John’s "Rise and Grind" because it taught me a lot about hustle.) It’s our dream to be on Shark Tank so we went on the ABC website to make sure we had all the audition information so we could prepare. We filled out the copious amounts of paperwork and even included a picture of us (see below!) playing Bundle with some very familiar looking people. (Special thank you and shoutout to our actor friends for pretending to be Sharks so we could practice!) Entrepreneurs only get one minute to talk about their product, so we made sure to carefully craft our pitch and practice it a lot so we were coming in at 58 seconds. Try to always leave them wanting more, am I right?
The casting team at Shark Tank is extremely gracious; they will see everyone just as long as you show up between 9am-11am to get your wristband. Cassie and I got there there at 6:45am because we wanted to be near the beginning of the day. Well, full disclosure, Cassie got there at 6:45am and I went to the wrong building first (classic me) so I got there at 6:55. We met the most amazing entrepreneurs in line with us. We got to talk to Lex about his QOR360 chair that is changing the way the world sits, Nour and her incredible hair care line Krezinu, and Rowena, the creator of eat2explore, a subscription box for kids that helps them cook foods from all around the world. Not only did we learn about some exciting products, we all formed friendships, and you know it’s real because we took a selfie and got a group text going. We received our wristbands (Cassie and I were number 56) and all filed into the Javits Center to get ready to pitch.
The First Rule of Fight Club
The Shark Tank Open Call its extremely well-run and efficient. This isn’t their first rodeo; Shark Tank is going into its 11th season and New York City was the last stop on on their open call tour for the year. Mindy Zemrak, head of casting for Shark Tank, welcomed the first 100 companies to pitch with a speech laying out how it was all going to work. We have been following Mindy on Instagram for awhile now, so we made sure to say hi as soon as we saw her. (Collier Sisters always trying get Bundle on the map.) Mindy has been with the show for all 11 seasons. She’s funny, charismatic, and must have the patience of a saint because the energy at casting calls is a lot. We are all so enthusiastic and eager to please, which can be lovely, but most of us are also a little nervous so there’s a lot of frantic energy swirling around. There’s also people vocally warming up so they can sing for their pitch (not us), entrepreneurs who forgot to bring their paperwork (Cassie made sure that wasn’t us), and folks running around in giant banana costumes (I wish this were us). So yeah, Mindy’s got a lot to manage, but she manages to be really gracious and upbeat while doing it.
Mindy talked us though about the audition process, which is fairly straightforward. You line up in the order of your wristband, you get one minute to pitch, and the person you are pitching may ask you a few questions after. Mindy introduced her team which consisted of Jackie (I thought of all the lame things I could say about us having the same name if we got her), Rebecca, Liz, and Cy. Mindy also noted that they have “resting pitch face” (this made me laugh really hard) so don’t feel uneasy if they don’t look happy during your pitch - they are just trying to concentrate!
Another thing Mindy noted is that it’s fine and even encouraged for entrepreneurs to talk about the open call; you can take pictures, talk about it on social media, pretty much do whatever you want. But, beyond what happens on that day, you have to treat it like Fight Club. How is Shark Tank like Fight Club, you ask? Well the first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club! Mindy explained that if companies move any further along in the process for casting they sign a lot of confidentiality agreements and can’t speak about the process any further. (Or at least until your episode airs if you manage to get on!) So, whether Bundle is destined for the Shark Tank or not, our lips are sealed.
We Came, We Pitched, We Had the Best Time Ever
Cassie and I had about 35 minutes of downtime before we got to pitch so we made sure we ran through our pitch several times and made no less than 4 bathroom trips collectively. (Hey, you don’t want to get in there and have to GO GO!) When got in line and went into a room where there were 4 tables, each with a casting person at them. Cassie and I got Cy, and as we walked over to him I yelled “Cy is our guy!” and he laughed politely, even though I’m sure he hears that about 37 times a day. We did our pitch and he was SO nice - nodding along the whole time, smiling, and being a very encouraging and receptive listener. Afterwards we chatted for a bit and he was so giving of his time and energy. The casting calls have got to be really draining for the Casting Team, but they were all so welcoming and friendly.
Cassie and I finished our pitch and said bye to our new friends. Just as I finished asking Cassie if she wanted to walk to the subway together, she spotted two camera crews interviewing people as they finished auditioning. She practically sprinted over them for us to be interviewed. Now, if you know either of us, the fact that Cassie was the one in front of the camera first would probably shock you, but I think it really shows just how much we have grown over the last year of being in business. We are willing to put ourselves outside of our comfort zones to promote our baby, Bundle! Who knows, maybe I will be the one doing our business taxes next year? (Don’t hold your breath waiting for that one.)
We are very grateful for all the support and thoughtful messages we received during our Shark Tank audition day. No matter what happens, it was a really fun day where we got to talk about Bundle, laugh a lot, and meet awesome new friends. You know we will be watching every episode of Season 11 so we can hang with our friends Barbara, Lori, Daymond, Robert, Mark, and of course, Mr. Wonderful. #SuperFansForLife