III. The Pitch - Swimming with the Sharks
DELAYS AND DISASTERS - THE LEAD UP TO TAPING DAY
Originally, we were scheduled to tape our pitch/episode in June. But there was a chance we would have our taping date delayed to September if shooting was running behind schedule. Since I was local (in Los Angeles), and didn’t require expensive travel plans (flights, hotels, etc…), it was a lot easier to change our taping date at the last minute, rather than having to cancel reservations and re-book someone coming in from out-of-state. As it turns out, our original June taping date was indeed pushed back to September, so I had another few months to prepare (agonize) for the pitch. In fact, once we got rescheduled to our September taping date, we were once again pushed back an additional week in September to the FINAL taping day, due to more schedule overruns. After getting pushed back for a second time, I couldn’t help but think about all the times the producers would caution us that we weren’t 100% guaranteed to get on the show. Maybe we weren’t going to get a chance to make our pitch at all!
Nevertheless, a few days before our scheduled (final) taping date, I rented a UHaul, packed up our giant display, and headed over to the Sony Studios lot. Once I arrived, I dropped off the display and all our props (display walls, mannequin heads, shelving, standees, banners, and Beard Heads), and worked with the production team to make sure they knew how we wanted to set everything up on the day of the taping. I also checked-in with our “Sherpas” to go over the pitch, practice Q&A, and review anything else that may be important. To be honest, I really just wanted to stick around the set as long as possible, trying to just “soak everything in.”
I have to say, it was wonderful living so close to the taping location. I was able to take a few hours out of my day to handle getting things set up at a relaxed pace, and still get back to my warehouse for a bit of work before the day was over. I can’t imagine how much more stressful it would have been if I had to fly to the taping location, stay at a hotel, have everything shipped ahead of time, and be away from work and my home for an extended period. Not to mention how stressful it would be if I forgot to bring something important or needed to replace a broken set piece! So, a bit of advice…if you’re going to be on Shark Tank, try to live in Los Angeles. It’ll make things a lot easier on you. 😉
On Friday afternoon, two days before our Sunday taping, I got a call from one of the producers saying they had some bad news. My heart sank. I immediately thought of the worst-case-scenario: They had run out of time, and our taping was canceled. We had already been pushed back from June to September, and once again in September to the “last-chance” final day. I silently cursed the fact I lived in Los Angeles, making Beard Head the easiest target to push back to later filming dates. All the comments I made earlier about how wonderful it was to live close to the set were coming back to bite me…
But no! Fortunately, the bad news had nothing to do with canceling our taping. It turned out there was a problem with our set display…it had collapsed. Hooray! I couldn’t have been happier! In normal circumstances, I’d probably be devastated with the news that our entire display collapsed days before I was set to film the most important pitch of my life…but compared to the bad news I was expecting to hear, I was thankfully relieved!
So, two days before the taping, instead of going over Q&A and practicing my pitch, I had to rush over to the set and try to fix our display. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, our display was very large…what I didn’t mention was that it wasn’t terribly sturdy. The display wasn’t meant to be moved around once constructed, and it could easily crack and fall apart…which it did (partially) when the production team tried to move it to a different area of the sound stage. Fortunately, I had spare parts back at the warehouse that could be used to fix everything (this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened). It took a while, but with the help of the production crew, we were able to get everything put back together again by that evening.
In the end, I think the display collapsing was a bit of a blessing in disguise. Instead being in my office all day Friday, stressing out about the upcoming taping, I was able to be on the actual set and around the production crew, all while keeping busy (and distracted). I think all the extra time on the sound stage in the days beforehand actually helped keep me more relaxed once I returned to do the taping. A lot of the other applicants had limited time, if any time at all, on the actual set prior to taping. Being on set for the first time can be a bit overwhelming, so I’m thankful I was already pretty familiar with the environment by taping day.
TAPING DAY - HAIR, MAKEUP, AND BUTTERFLIES
I woke up around 5:00 am to head over to the hotel where the rest of the applicants (contestants? entrepreneurs? pitchers?) were staying. While waiting in the lobby for the shuttle that would take us to the Shark Tank set, I noticed that I was the only person there alone. Everyone else had a team…whether they were partners, employees, or just people to help out with the presentation. Part of me felt a little lonely, but it was also kind of nice not having to talk with anyone, or worry if someone else on my team was nervous or unprepared. At this point in the early morning, I felt very relaxed. I knew I was prepared.
The shuttle took us to the Sony Studios lot, where we disembarked to a large trailer with separate dressing rooms. We were to hang out in our dressing rooms until it was time for our taping on set. At some point before the taping, we were called out to hair and makeup to make sure we were presentable. For me, they just cleaned up the edges on my hair, and put some foundation on my face to help reduce shine once I got under the stage lights (they get quite hot). I think they tried to lighten up the giant dark circles under my eyes as well, but weren’t very successful.
After a few hours of waiting, my group of applicants were called on to set, where we would (once again) wait until it was our turn to pitch to the Sharks. At this point, my relaxed state vanished, and I was suddenly feeling very anxious. Up until now, the day had gone very slowly. We had hours of downtime, producers and crew moved about calmly, and the thought of pitching directly to the Sharks in front of cameras seemed like a far-off fantasy. Now, on set, there was a distinct electrifying energy that permeated throughout the giant sound stage. People were hustling back-and-forth with purpose, barely acknowledging my presence as I was lead to my (new) waiting room.
I had no idea how long I had until it was my turn to pitch to the Sharks. There were five pitches in my group, and aside from not being first, I didn’t know where I was in line. Each pitch could last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour (or more), and there could be breaks in-between. I was largely left alone during this waiting period, just sitting in a darkened “room” (we’re on a giant sound stage, so the “room” is really just a small area that’s closed off with a frame and some curtains). Earlier in the day, I appreciated the time to myself, but at this point, I think having a partner or team member there to talk to would have been nice to help take the edge off. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait too long…maybe a little more than an hour…before it was my time to pitch. A producer called me over, led me down a walkway, and before I knew it, I was standing in front of two big doors that would open up to that famous long Shark Tank hallway.
‘Oh my God, how should I walk?! I didn’t practice a walk! What should I do with my face when I’m walking down the hallway….?!’ ……….and ACTION!
PITCHING THE SHARKS
Continue >> Part IV: Aftermath - TV Air Date and Beyond