How a $5 Investment Got Me Into Shark Tank

I’m a collegiate entrepreneur. Pitching my startup in front of the Sharks would have been a dream come true. Here’s how I made it happen.

August 5, 2015

I first applied to Shark Tank two summers ago at an open casting call in San Diego. At the time, my startup — Yes Man Watches — was just 1 year-old and breaking 6 figures in revenue. Not bad for a sophomore in college.

The morning of the casting call, I got up at 4 a.m. to get in line by 5 a.m. Doors didn’t open until 9 a.m., but by the time I arrived I was already the 354th person in line.

When they call your number to pitch, you have 5 minutes in front of a casting member. Wow, I thought, I just waited over 5 hours to pitch for 5 minutes.

As a collegiate entrepreneur, pitching Yes Man in front of the Sharks would have been a dream come true. Long story short, after going through their application process and making it through to what I think was the final round, I fell short and didn’t air.

Last summer I heard about the same casting call that I attended the year before. This time, instead of spending my morning waiting in line, I decided to try a different approach.

I had been reading Ryan Holiday’s book “Trust Me I’m Lying,” which is an awesome read for anyone interested in media manipulation. While reading it, I had been thinking of ways to get in front of the Shark Tank casting crew.

I realized that with a simple, well-placed tweet, I could grab the attention of anyone. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Pick your target: There are many active Shark Tank casting crew members on Twitter, but I wanted to go for the big dog. The boss. The shot-caller.
  2. Find someone influential and relevant who can tweet for you: Since Yes Man had originally launched on Kickstarter, I reached out to a Kickstarter PR company with over 190k followers. Since they knew of Yes Man and my story, they were willing to help me spread the word.
  3. Craft your tweet: This is one of the most important steps. You don’t want to be too promotional, but you need to create an image of yourself that fits your desired outcome.
  4. Tweet time: Below is the tweet that @Kickstartsucces tweeted for me.

  5. Now here comes the $5: The tweets from @Kickstartsucces don’t always get a lot of engagement, so to ensure that this tweet got attention, I went on Fiverr and paid someone $5 to retweet it 500 times.

To a common Twitter user, this tweet seemed to have a ton of organic engagement but in actuality, only 26 of the retweets were real.

The next day I woke up to this email:

Shark Tank contacted me within 12 hours of my tweet hack.

Now the real question — did I get on Shark Tank? The casting process at Shark Tank is pretty closed-door and you never know when you’ll be called to action. With that being said, if you found this hack useful, I’d appreciate your help getting me on the show!

Here is what you can do to help — please tweet: @SSalyersCasting @kloknight This @yesmanwatches story is incredible. Would crush it on season7 @ABCSharkTank! #collegeentrepreneur #inspired
Click here to tweet your support

I think I’m in the final stages again and if all goes well my episode would air on Shark Tank Season 7. I wouldn’t be able to tell you what happens though, as once you reach a certain stage in the process you’re legally bound to not disclose information. If I make it on the show you’ll see me and if not, well… at least this whole thing only cost me 5 bucks.


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