Shark Tank Auditions Part Three - The Evolution Of Expectations
YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT THE THIRD TIME
On Wednesday May 1st I will be making my 3rd attempt at landing a spot on the popular TV show Shark Tank. The first time I auditioned was in 2015 the first year of our company. I was fresh out the gate with this luggage storage disruptor idea with billion dollar expectations. Oh how the times have changed. Now you can find me panhandling on the street for money. Despite the cold harsh reality of what it actually means to be an entrepreneur tightening its icy grip around my dreams, the pursuit continues. However just so you know, I am not doing this because I want (all though I can use) funding (as you can see by my blog post Why Should Billionaires Have All The Fun? ). Instead I am doing this audition as a way to measure my personal and professional growth. Let me explain…
GET YOUR HEAD OUT THE CLOUDS
In my last audition I was but a step away from making it to the show taping in L.A. After my initial application submission on the Shark Tank website, I received an invite to audition in person at a private venue for diverse entrepreneurs (which I am doing again this Wednesday). I was fortunate enough to make it past this first hurdle and within a week recieved a call from one of the show producers asking me to submit a video audition tape, (which you can see on our YouTube Channel. ) This would be followed by an email from that producer…
Once delivery of your submission, it's usually about two weeks or so that the producers will reach out if they're interested in moving forward with you.
For me this was two weeks of constantly checking my emails (“does this thing work?”), reaching out to previous show contestants (“how quickly did it take for them to call you back?”), and even sending follow up emails to the producers (“Did you get my video link?”)
I was a mess.
LOOK AT ME THE BIG STAR!
In each of my previous auditions I had delusions of grandeur of making it on the show so that I could prove all my doubters wrong. This included my ex’s, my family and friends, my competitors, people who ignored or rejected me, even people who didn’t celebrate or encourage me at a level that I thought was sufficient for my efforts. I had a Michael Jordan-like drive to make enemies even where they were none if it gave me even the slightest edge. It was all about look at Me! Me! Me! See how I made it!
There is something about building a business that humbles you. It is survival of the fittest (state of mind). It weeds out unnecessary baggage, trashes all your hangups, and purges the extraneous and unnecessary. Despite what I thought I knew about entrepreneurship through pop-culture (Steve Jobs/Bill Gates/The old Robber Barons/go down the list), my reality was much different than the myth. It seemed to me that it was more likely that if you were fortunate enough succeed in business, that it was in spite of your baggage not because of it. Vanity, pride, fear, self loathing, selfishness had no place in my business, I needed to not only survive, I needed to grow. I haven’t had the fortune of having kids yet, but I imagine that it has a similar effect on ones growth. If growing your business is what is important, then trivial matters fade into the background. This has been my experience.
Now that I have auditioned twice before over the lifetime of my company, looking back at the trajectory of my growth from the first audition (where I was convinced that Free Your Arms was destined to be the next Airbnb), to today’s version of Free Your Arms (as a company that connects with each neighborhood, each shop owner, each customer, as if it was our only neighborhood, customer, shop owner).
I have “grown” from having dreams of global domination, to bringing a small town community based approach to the big city.
Here is an excerpt from one of the early versions of the business plan for our relaunch this past February. It cites the experience of my parents “Clyde and Dallis” (immigrants from Trinidad and Tobago to New York City (Where they had me), to now living in a small town in Florida called Spring Hill) as an example of what we lost in big cities and with technology. (At the time The Shop was called “Our Small Town”)
Decades before Airbnb or UBER, Clyde and Dallis were always happy hosts
to anyone in need of a room or a ride. From family visiting or migrating to NYC, to the troubled children of friends and family, to students studying abroad. There was always someone in that extra room. And those visitors had to look no further than Clyde's Yellow Cab for a ride to or from Church, work, the airports, you name it. And yes sometimes guests or passengers would offer payments as compensation for time or fuel, but always there was something beyond the monetary exchange that made this less a transactional experience and more a communal one. In return guests would help with the cooking, the cleaning, the yard work, picking up groceries, or just contributing to the daily dialogue that formed the fabric of their home and community.
As time has passed this organic support system has slowly been replaced by a digital one. Now if you need a ride you call an UBER, when you need a place to stay you find an AIRBNB, when you need items picked up from the grocery you use POSTMATES. All great services that have made most of our lives easier, but for the Clyde's and Dallis' of the world, they are finding themselves increasingly isolated as that old support system erodes around them.
OURSMALLTOWN restores that old support system and provides communities on the fringes of technology with the tools that help them bridge the digital divide, transforming what was a purely a digital exchange into a more communal one.
Some might look at this downshift in expectations as a step backwards, I don’t. I know that if I am doing something (for the right reasons) that matters that it will connect with even the toughest critics (or judges in this case). This audition is just another hurdle to gauge that growth.
TREVOR - FOUNDER FREE YOUR ARMS - DELIVERED WITH ❤️
TUNE IN TO @FREEYOURARMS ON INSTAGRAM OR FACEBOOK FOR THE LIVESTREAMING OF MY AUDITION DAY ON WEDNESDAY MAY 1ST. AND PLEASE CONTINUE TO PAY IT FORWARD BY PURCHASING FROM OUR SHOP EACH AND EVERY FRIDAY.
TO HEAR THE MUSIC THAT INSPIRED THIS SERIES CHECK OUT THE DELIVERED WITH LOVE PLAYLIST