Arthur Christopher Schaper
Of the few TV shows I still take time to watch, ABC’s “Shark Tank” is the most informative and grueling. In the weekly high stakes drama, real people put themselves and their best ideas on the line, hoping to land a lucrative deal with one more successful businessmen. Optimistic (and naive), these inventors and entrepreneurs hope to catch a shark’s interest, or at least avoid a self-imposed blood bath of humiliation.
Kevin O’Leary, the meanest, most rapacious shark of the bunch, delights in tearing to shreds the most uninformed or unimpressive of potential entrepreneurs. His fellow sharks range from the sympathetic Robert Herjavec and Lori Greiner to the blunt and pragmatic Mark Cuban.
The latest episode showcased Newport resident Mark Aramli, who presented his inside heating-cooling system for beds, the “BedJet
From the outset, O’Leary blasted the former NASA engineer’s product because of its high cost. The other sharks climbed into a mattress on stage to experience the coolness of the comfort provided by the BedJet. The unusual, initial rapport gave way to probing questions, hazy answers, and a steady stream of rejection. Fellow shark Mark Cuban asked for specifics on the product’s design in order to understand why his invention was different from other climate-change apparatuses for bedspreads. Resorting to the same pitch at the beginning of his presentation, Amarli finally explained that the hardware provided rapid climate control/climate change without danger.
Despite a record of large sales order from a major outfitter in Australia, most of the sharks were not biting. Except for Greiner, who asked questions, repeated herself while Amarli refused to listen. She even began shouting, “Hello!” to get the bed-engineer’s attention, then shouted: “I’m out!”
Trying to reel in a Big Fish who got away, Aramli apologized, then asked her to ask her question. She refused flat out: “No!”
Another Shark, Barbara Corcoran, asked Greiner why she would not reconsider listening to the man.
Her answer commanded a great deal of respect: “If you are not willing to listen to me, then I know that I do not want to work with you.” The normally accommodating Herjavec agreed: “She’s bringing up a good point.” Corcoran, who frequently swims between mean and nice among the other sharks, rejected the product because it would not fit under her bed. O’Leary repeated that Aramli’s product would sit on shelves and go nowhere. Worse yet, janitors would resort to using the BedJet as a carpet cleaner. Engineer Aramli left, with his head high, vowing to profit from his product and prove the Sharks wrong.
Personal Note: Greiner’s self-respect and emphatic integrity were impressive. Entrepreneurs never get a second chance for that first impression, and Aramli’s meandering lost him a potential investor. I myself have experienced the same arrogant neglect from a potential media entrepreneur. In one of my best decisions, I broke off with one Rhode Island media company, and joined another, 990WBOB.
Hopefully, all will work out for Aramli. Things certainly have gotten better for me.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a writer, blogger, and political commentator on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.