Make a splash: UI alumni appear on “Shark Tank” and gain visibility for companies

University of Illinois alumni Quiante Hedrick and Keithan Hedrick appeared on ABC’s TV show “Shark Tank” on Friday and introduced their company, Candi, to a panel of potential investors. One of the investors was Kevin Hart, a comedian with experience in business management.

Since this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, the couple’s anxiety was high in the moments before they went to the sharks. Still, they were confident.

“I was nervous, of course, to speak in front of them,” Quiante said. “But I was delighted to introduce Candi and to have the opportunity to make a deal.”

“I was just excited, I’m generally not nervous,” Keithan said. “We prepared and knew what we wanted to accomplish, so we were ready to do it. “

Keithan and Quiante asked for $ 500,000 for 15% of the sharks’ equity. Quiante explained that they needed the money for three things: developing an app, hiring more staff for talent acquisition, and increasing marketing efforts.

“The cost to build our platform would be between 200,000 and 300,000,” Keithan said. “You see a lot of startups that have somebody who can develop the technology and know how to code, and so they (startups) save a lot of money. We don’t have that.

Regarding advertising, Keithan also explained that Candi only relies on celebrity social media posts to gain exposure.

Unfortunately, no shark wanted to take a bite. The panel did not accept Keithan and Quiante’s proposal. The Sharks had no issues or criticisms with Candi himself, however. The problem was with how much Keithan and Quiante asked for.

On the show, Lori Greiner explained that the amount requested was too high. Hart added that it was too early to invest that amount of money in Candi.

Keithan explained the rules of Shark Tank. He said the amount of money in the original pitch cannot be negotiated lower, but the equity percentage can be changed. This is why he and Quiante were unable to modify their offer.

Keithan also touched on the fact that in a cutout portion of the final episode, Mark Cuban and Greiner said that if he and Quiante had asked for a lower amount, they would have gotten an offer.

“I bet your lowest dollar is that anywhere between 150,000 and 250,000 would have got us a deal,” he said.

Besides the asking price, Hart also had an issue with Candi’s advertising method. Hart explained that he didn’t like the fact that celebrities were not paid upfront for social media posts.

“We knew there would potentially be a problem with Kevin Hart that we were relying on celebrities to promote for free without paying them up front,” Keithan said.

He went on to explain a past dispute between Hart and Sony Entertainment, implying that Hart did not want to advertise a film on social media for free.

Keithan said he didn’t necessarily agree with Hart.

“Let’s say a celebrity posted (a Candi ad) on her Instagram, and from that post she gets $ 10,000 in bookings,” he said. “They make the vast majority of that money, they make 75% of that $ 10,000, so that’s $ 7,500 when we only made $ 2,500. When they generate income, they get most of it.

Although they did not receive an offer from the sharks, Keithan and Quiante said they weren’t disappointed. Quiante mentioned how proud she was that she even had the opportunity.

“20,000 to 30,000 different companies are trying to join Shark Tank, and only about 1% of them will actually get started,” Quiante said. “And then there’s no guarantee that all of this gets broadcast.”

They also explained that the opportunity brought free marketing and exposure to Candi, which the business needed.

“Friday night, prime-time national television on ABC for an eight-minute commercial for your business,” Keithan said. “Small businesses can’t afford this level of exposure; you’re talking about the millions of dollars in free press that we have.

“It’s marketing that we certainly couldn’t afford right now,” Quiante said.

The pair also said that since the time their segment aired, Candi has received a huge increase in traffic to their website.

“I think by the time we entered the reservoir, our website had drawn close to 10,000 users to the site,” Keithan said. “I cannot express how much this exhibition helps. “

He also mentioned that a lot of people have contacted Candi. They have received offers of partnerships, potential buyers and have secured tons of investments in the business.

Keithan and Quiante have no plans to change what they’re doing with Candi. They plan to focus on reaching greater talent as well as advancing their technology.

“Acquiring bigger talent would increase sales, and then we can do additional marketing, which will be powerful for us,” Quiante said. “Right now we’re just doing it in the best possible way.”

[email protected]

About Shelley Hales

Check Also

Why $200m won’t convince teams about Andretti’s Formula 1 plans

Record TV numbers, a sold-out crowd and an influx of stars have helped make it …