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I find the ABC show Shark Tank to be fascinating, because unlike many reality tv shows, the results are immediate, and the stakes are very real. In case you haven't seen it, the show pits five extremely wealthy investors against budding entrepreneurs who are given a short period of time to present the pitch of their lives. The panel of sharks then evaluates and negotiates investment proposals, usually resulting in deals, or in more cases than not, broken hearts and dashed dreams. As a disclaimer at the beginning of every episode states, all of the money that the sharks invest is their own.
In the latest episode of the show, four entrepreneurs were thrown into the shark tank, but only one emerged victorious. What are the odds that out of a magician, a (not very good) salesman, and the creator of a cargo management system for pick-up trucks, the victor would be a web developer with a side business of drawing cat pictures out of his home in Evanston, Ill.?
Armed with a brilliant idea, some Sharpies, and an infectious video (good luck getting his jingle out of your head), Steve Gadlin has turned his small business, I Want To Draw A Cat For You, into a surprise internet sensation. For $9.95, he'll draw you any kind of cat you'd like, and mail it to your house.
Gadlin, who has already drawn and sold over 1,500 cats to date, was interested in receiving $10,000 for a 25% stake in his company. He told the sharks that he was an ideas guy, and that not only would they be buying the "cat business," but also his infinite well of creative ideas, which he executes under his company, Blewt!.
Steve drew me a cat who is blogging while eating a cheeseburger, while another cat wearing sunglasses bakes some cupcakes in the other room
Steve drew me and one very lucky Catsparella reader our own cats back in May, and I was very curious to see how the sharks would react to his pitch. Some of them can be very extremely harsh, so I couldn't imagine what they would have to say about a business model based on drawing stick figure cats and selling them over the internet.
To my (let's be honest) shock and absolute delight, the investors loved Steve's presentation and saw great potential in his idea. Most surprising of all, Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire investor Mark Cuban offered Steve $25,000 for a 33% stake in his company, which Steve accepted with the caveat that Cuban would draw 1 in 1,000 cats.
Huge congratulations go out to Steve on scoring this extraordinary opportunity! We wish him the best of luck on his new partnership, and can't wait to see what the next year has in store. His story of cat-repreneurship is an inspiring one, and should serve as a reminder to all of us to never give up on our dreams, no matter how weird or silly they may seem!