Something I heard and actually didn't know about which grew my understanding of the sport is that they made an appearance on the television show Shark Tank. I am not a large watcher of television so I had heard of the show but not the details around what happens or what occurred in their appearance when Spikeball was on Shark Tank.
When was Spikeball on Shark Tank? Yes, Spikeball creators were on the Shark Tank tv show. As part of the show, they did come to an agreement for a 20% stake in Spikeball for $500,000. What most don't know is that the agreement was never actually finalized meaning they never gave up their company stake nor received the $500k.
We can explore more details as to what happened on the Shark Tank as I'm pretty sure most people aren't aware that deals still aren't as "final" as the show makes it appear after they leave the stage. We will talk about the Sharks involved and why the deal didn't go as planned afterwards and how they used the momentum generated to springboard into life.
When was Spikeball on Shark Tank?
Spikeball Inc was on the Episode on May 15th, 2015 with the CEO, Chris Ruder and fellow players and some employees out to the floor for their pitch.
After a rousing pitch and some back and forth between the Sharks, Daymond John and Mr. Wonderful came out and played a game with us (although that didn't make the cut because Mr. Wonderful wasn't exactly "athletic").Spikeball Website
Obviously the two Sharks to show an interest in the extension of an offer was these two who went out to play the game. This is when the negotiation and work occur towards the end of the show when they work to lower the stake for the funds and to me is one of the most uninteresting parts of the show.
Which Shark Was Involved?
At the end of the Shark Tank pitch, they had an agreement in place for Daymond Green to provide a $500k investment for a 20% stake in the company. The Spikeball founder Chris Ruder, worked hard to lock up a killer deal with Shark Daymond John.
After a lengthy and tough negotiating portion that some Sharks seemed to think that Chris was pushing his luck a little too far, he was able to get his deal done with Daymond. The Spikeball founder also had a competing offer from Kevin O'Leary available on the table which he declined instead and opted for Daymond's deal.
Why Didn't The Deal Get Finalized?
Apparently what happened was that Daymond was trying to get them into merchandising via licensing using other brands to sell more product. When this happened Chris was not a fan and felt it would convert it from a sport into a toy.
Daymond had friends at Marvel Comics and they wanted to make a Spiderman Spikeball set. We consider Spikeball a sport. If we made a Spiderman-branded set, my fear was that people would think it was a toy. That cheapened the product for me. He knows a lot about licensing but that wasn’t in the playbook for us. I didn’t want to do a deal just for the sake of doing a deal. We didn’t need the money.Shawn Ruder - Forbes Interview
In hindsight, I would say not agreeing to the deal made the most sense and it helped to get the sport moving and not just as a toy for kids. The exposure he also stated is a present that keeps giving as replays bring in customers even today years after the show originally aired.
Shark Tank Gave Them Exposure
What was even more beneficial was that the show had, at the time, about seven million viewers on each show. This meant that to be on the show, regardless of achieving a deal or not you would have got a tremendous amount of eyeballs on your product which could help you grow without the assistance from the Sharks.
This is what happened to the Spikeball team, they would fail to actually finalize the deal in the months that followed the show and eventually it would all fall through. The good thing though is that the exposure generated by the television spot would lead to a massive increase in exposure and provide validation of the game and product which then skyrocketed the brand into the mainstream.
I learned a lot about the owner in reading up on how this whole ordeal happened, I also found out that it does happen more often than we get to see from the show. What is amazing is that Chris took a large chance to not make money from licensing and it has, if anything, helped the sport grow.
I can't even start to understand the choice to avoid the money and income and big business that would come from these kinds of deals with someone like Daymond. But for Chris, this wasn't about making money as much as growing a sport and enjoying the playing aspects which makes me a firm believer in Spikeball and Spikeball Pro.
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