Bruno François, the creator of hands-free video app Cycloramic, went on “Shark Tank” seeking $US90,000 in exchange for 5% of his company. What he got was much, much better.
Within an hour of his segment airing on ABC’s hit pitch show on Friday, Francois’s app was downloaded more than 100,000 times. The two versions of Cycloramic vaulted from No. 800 and No. 220 in the App Store to No. 2 and No. 1, respectively. In that first hour, the company made roughly $US200,000.
“I never would have imagined the impact that ‘Shark Tank’ had on the downloads and the website,” François told Business Insider in an email.
The sudden spike in demand and sales that Cycloramic saw immediately after its segment ran isn’t rare for businesses that appear on the show. It’s a phenomenon that experts are increasingly terming the “Shark Tank effect.” Some estimate that a slot on the show could be worth as much as $4 million to $US5 million in free marketing exposure, particularly if the finicky Sharks take a liking to the product.
That certainly was the case for François, who landed an offer from all five of the show’s celebrity investors.
His iPhone video app uses the device’s vibrations to spin the phone in a circle — allowing users to take 360-degree videos, hands free. Cycloramic also has a sister app that lets iPhone users take hands-free selfies.
At one point during the negotiations, Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban offered up $US1 million. François rejected that offer because it was “too much equity to give up,” but negotiated a $US500,000 deal with Cuban that gave his company a $US3 million valuation.
The “Shark Tank” effect may be worth the effort, but it is hard won. François says he first auditioned for “Shark Tank” in April of last year after a five-hour wait outside the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. After hearing nothing for months, he was invited to Los Angeles over the summer to do a last trial pitch to the producers and then finally tape his segment.
Even after all that, though, François had no guarantee that his footage or Cycloramic would ever make it on the air. “I was going to be notified if the show would air three weeks before the show time,” he told Business Insider. “I was not even guaranteed, and it is independent of whether or not you make a deal.”
All his time could have gone to waste. But instead, François won the “Shark Tank” lottery and secured air time. And the evidence of his success is clear.
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