The Most Innovative Kayak You’ve Ever Seen

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I have only kayaked once. I really liked it even though Eliot did all the work. It’s a great way to get close to nature, just you and a body of water. Many of my friends in Miami kayak all the time, but they admit it’s always a schlep to tow their boats to the bay.

Tonight Oru Kayak presented a solution on Shark Tank. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Oru Kayak designs origami kayaks. They fold out of a compact case. The video above gives a great demonstration of what I am talking about. There is nothing like the Oru kayaks on the market.

The Oru Kayak is light and compact. It’s on display at the San Franscisco Museum of Modern Art. I want to buy one. The Oru website says “it’s stable enough for beginners and fast and sporty enough for expert kayakers. Oru Kayaks transform from a box to boat in just a few minutes.”

FEATURES
-Comfortable foam seat and fully-adjustable backrest
-Easy-to-close watertight seams
-2 rubber deck straps for extra gear
-Easy-to-adjust footrest
-Reinforced cockpit for easy entry
-Pair of bulkheads for extra rigidity
-Simple and intuitive strap and buckle closure system
-Fits standard spray skirts (size medium)

SPECIFICATIONS
LENGTH: 12′ [3.7 M]
WIDTH: 25″ [63 CM]
WEIGHT: 26 LBS [12 KG]
BOX LENGTH: 32″ [81 CM]
BOX WIDTH: 13″ [33 CM]
BOX HEIGHT: 29″ [73 CM]

The Oru Kayak retails at $1,195.00. Pricey but convenient. I’ll let you know if we get a pair.

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This Will Blow Your Mind

You have to try this at home yourself. This is not magic. But it’s pretty darn close.

Everyone has been talking about the Cycloramic ever since its founder, Bruno François, appeared on Shark Tank last week. This is going to be one of the most amazing things you have ever seen. A new app is capable of turning a series of photos into a panoramic photo or video. And the phone can even do it by itself using the iPhone’s vibrate feature which has been specially calibrated by the app to spin the device smoothly around on its own steam. You can then view the photo or video on Cycloramic’s 3D viewer.

You have to watch the videos to better understand this amazing feat.

The Sharks loved the Cycloramic. Mark Cuban gave Cycloramic $500,000 at a $3 million valuation. François was only seeking $90,000.

After researching information about the app, I found out that the episode was filmed over the summer. At that time, Cycloramic had 660,000 downloads and cost $.99 on the App Store. Today, it has more than eight million downloads and costs $2.99, although it is currently offered on special at $1.99. François is also developing a rotating base to allow the app to work on non-iPhone devices.

About 100,000 new downloads took place within an hour of Cycloramic’s debut on Shark Tank. The power of television? No, the power of a great product.

Follow-up to Shark Tank Post

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Everyone thinks their ideas are the best. I get ideas pitched to me all the time. Some arrive on the back of a paper napkin and others are presented in full-blown written proposals.

I am a target of their dreams because they know I know the right people. “The right people” consists of angel investors, venture capitalists, bankers, CEOs, writers, industry analysts, and people who know people.

I try to explain to wannabes what it takes to get money, but very few really get it. They believe their ideas are so good that everyone should stop what they are doing and give them a round of applause.

It doesn’t work that way. There are a million good ideas only a handful of which are by people who know how to execute them. I do know that investors look for certain characteristics and accomplishments in a person before they part with a dime.

The Sharks were interested in the Breathometer because the guy behind the technology had already started and sold a successful company. He has also pre-sold thousands of units, is willing to work around the clock to make the business a success, and has an exit plan that will make money for everyone involved,

Let me give you some very important tips.

1) Don’t ever admit to money people that you need them to be the brains behind the operation. They are supposed to be investing in you and your ability to get things done.

2) Be ready to prove that your concept makes money. Real proof, not daydreams. Investors want concrete evidence that your business will be profitable and that they will get their initial investment back in record speed.

3) Investors like entrepreneurs who have skin in the game. You have a better chance of getting money if you have also invested in your idea. Show them that you are serious.

4) Be ready to live modestly. Investors do not want to see their money being used for sizable salaries. No one makes money until they do.

5) This cannot be a part-time venture for you. If this is not your ful-time job, forget it. You are not getting a dime. Your commitment means everything.

A few years ago, it was pretty easy to get money. Today, it is very difficult. Be ready to fight the fight.

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Shark Tank’s Cheesy Indulgence

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Mark Cuban

When someone with deep pockets makes a mistake, it is called “an experiment.” When someone starting out or just an average Joe makes a mistake, it is considered a major blunder. Hence, the reason for my post.

Mark Cuban, one of the six rotating investors on ABC TV’s Shark Tank, admitted in an interview on Reddit that allowing a T-Mobile product placement followed by a T-Mobile commercial, right in the middle of the show last season, was in poor taste. He actually used the word “cheesy.”

We are loyal fans of the show so we will give it another shot this season, but if we start to see blatant product endorsements on the show, we are going to immediately tune out. Watching real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran talk about her ability to use her T-Mobile phone to access information about one of the on-air startups was insulting to the viewers. We all knew Shark Tank was getting paid to have Barbara say that.

Cuban’s actual excuse on Reddit was, “It was beyond cheesy. None of the sharks liked it, but we learned from it and it will be different in the future.” So what does that mean? They won’t endorse products on the air as a form of advertising, or they will do a better job camouflaging it?

Reddit is a collection of entries on a website submitted by registered users. It looks like a bulletin board system. The entries are organized into areas of interest called “reddits.” The word Reddit comes from “I read it.” Users vote on stories, thumbs up or down. The result determines the positioning of the content on the site.

Cuban was featured on Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread. Users posed questions and he answered them quickly and candidly.

Reddit also asked Cuban how many of the deals on Shark Tank get modified or cancelled after the cameras stop rolling? Also, had any of the Sharks ever decided to make a deal with someone after the cameras stopped?

I think you are going to find Cuban’s answer very interesting. “We get the chance to do due diligence after the show. As a result, you uncover things that were not brought up in the show, so it’s not unusual for a deal to fall through in the DD phase. I have had things like people who never paid their taxes, people who lied on the show, people who thought that spending money on their personal credit cards should be considered a business expense, you name it.”

Cuban continued, “There is so much pressure on the entrepreneur during the show that sometimes they say what they think we want to hear rather than the truth. The DD helps us separate the two.”

“How many of the deals have you had to break off in the DD phase?”

“Probably about 25 per cent of them!”

How to Psych Out the Money People

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I get so frustrated every week when I watch the small business owners ask the Sharks for money. For those of you who don’t know anything about Shark Tank, it is a weekly ABC reality TV show where entrepreneurs pitch wealthy business executives for investment money. Many of the products are tech oriented, or have some sort of a tech component. The series is produced by Mark Burnett (Survivor) and the panel consists of Robert Herjavec, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran , Daymond John, Mark Cuban, and Lori Greiner.

A lot of people question whether a TV reality series is real. I think if you watch enough TV, and you employ your common sense, you can filter fact from fiction. After you have watched several weeks of this show, you start to understand what the Sharks want to hear about and how to get their money. Yet, week after week, I watch the small business people make the same mistakes. I have witnessed this in real life too. There is no secret what angel investors, investment groups, venture capitalists, and other money people want. They want to know at the end of the day that their investments are paying off.

Don’t give them your hardship stories, your challenges, your misfortunes, your woes, your struggles, and your yo-yo life. They do not want to hear it. Yes, they will be sympathetic, but at the end of the day, they will give you nothing.

Even in the real world, we help clients and would-be clients to raise money, and during their pitches they turn into whiney children who cry that the bullies are beating them up. There have been countless times when we rehearsed a pitch with a suitor only to go into a meeting and have them switch everything around. All of their insecurities and warts come flowing out all at once. I could tell by their body language that they weren’t going to get a thing other than a kick in the pants and a shove out the door.

These are just a few things investors want to hear about:

1. You work the business 24/7. You don’t have another job. Your entire focus is on the project.

2. You’ve already had some proven indicator that the public wants what you’re selling. The sales have to be significant and recent. If they see a gap in orders, you are history.

3. When you ask for money, don’t be a pig. Investors hate that. They will turn you down immediately.

4. If you are offering a percentage of your business in return for the money, don’t evaluate your company too high. Better to be conservative.

5. Be prepared that most investors want a significant percentage of your business for the money. They all have their calculators out. If you offer them a small percentage and ask for big money, they will tell you to leave the room immediately.

6. Only mommy and daddy will not want anything in return for the money you’re requesting. Grow up. Your idea is not genius, and it’s going to take a lot of work to make it happen.

7. You’d better be able to describe what your business is in two or three sentences. If you go around in circles, you’re a goner.

8. Know your competition like the freckles on your face. If you can’t explain why you are better and why you can beat them out, you are discounted immediately.

9. Be passionate about your business. Investors want to know that you live to be in business — not the other way around.

10. Do not indicate that you have been working the business you are pitching for years. Anything over two years smells like dead fish. You need to present exciting, new material.

There are probably a few other points to consider, but I want to point out that if you are not confident in what you are doing, you will not be getting any money. In the November 23rd issue of Entertainment Weekly, there is a two-page spread on Shark Tank. You might learn something from the article, but the heart and soul of your pitch for money is written in this blog post. If you don’t understand what you have to do, call me. I have watched the best of the best and the worst of the worst. I can give you powerful pointers.

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Looking For The Next Steve Jobs

Will.i.am

Simon Cowell

Steve Jobs

It was only a matter of time. I am surprised it took this long. I even thought of it myself, but I don’t have millions of dollars to make it happen. It takes the likes of Simon Cowell and Will.i.am to back this sort of a thing. Looking for The Next Steve Jobs is like Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Does he really exist?

The duo of Simon and Will.i.am are working on a project called the ”X Factor for Tech.” The details are very sketchy at this point but basically it will be the same kind of format that has proven to be successful for singers and dancers: teams of producers screen the entries, the on-screen TV judges select the ones they want to present on stage, the audience then decides on the finalists and then the grand prize winner.

The big question for ”X Factor for Tech” is their particular format. Will there be a final winner for each show that gets a sum of money for a startup, or will it take a year to get to the grand finale? How serious are they in finding the next Steve Jobs? Personally, I think that is just a euphemism for finding inventors who are game changers like Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Four Square, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Steve Case of AOL, and Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

Unlike the entertainment business, there is just a limited number of geniuses. Most of the time when you hear a new and interesting concept, it first sounds like a winner. Then as time goes by, the concept starts developing warts that the money people don’t want to address and the inventor doesn’t know how to cure on his or her own.

If you ever watch Shark Tank, a TV show format with a similar objective as what I think “X Factor for Tech” will be about, you start to understand why the Sharks only give money to those who can stand on their own. They can’t be nursemaids to the idea people. Too many inventors/creators need money but they also need guidance. They know nothing about marketing, accounting, legal requirements, hiring, firing, meeting deadlines, or even sales. The minute the Sharks find out that the person standing before them is an empty suit, he or she gets turned down.

The same thing will happen on “X Factor for Tech.” Simon and Will.i.am are not about to give money for an idea that will go no place fast, so it is going to be interesting to see how they cultivate the inventor. The same thing holds true with American Idol, The X Factor and all of the other entertainment shows. Half of the grand winners cut a record or two but you never hear from them again.

That is show business. This is the tech business. The ultimate Steve Jobs didn’t just appear one day. He was created after decades of trying to make things happen and then deciding that he had enough substance to lead. Very few on earth ever feel like that other than the impostors. There are tons of them. It is going to be interesting to see if these two music moguls will be able to spot that.

Invention Hunters on the Food Network Starts Tonight

Steve’s biggest fan club.

The staff at my New York coop is so excited today.  The guy who often stays at our apartment, the guy who often has packages arriving for him in our name, the guy who calls all of the doormen by their first name, the guy who frequently appears on Dr. Oz and The Today Show as the “Innovation Insider,” is going to be one of the most talked about people in the world of innovation today and maybe for a long, long time.  Starting tonight and for the next six Monday evenings, Steve Greenberg will be hosting a new TV Show on the Food Network along with Patrick Raymond called “Invention Hunters.” 

Steve and Patrick

Produced by Lucky Dog Films, “Invention Hunters”  is exactly what I talk about in my blog posts every day.  The series is all about innovation, entrepreneurship, ambition, determination, start ups, desire, marketing, guts, and even reinventing yourself by taking risks.  The Internet plays a big part of this TV series because a lot of what is being done is made quicker, faster and better by knowing how to use it. Steve and Patrick travel across country searching for the next great food gadgets.  In many ways, “Invention Hunters” is no different than a lot of the successful reality series like “American Idol,”  “The X Factor,”  “Shark Tank,”  “House Hunters” or even “House Hunters International.”  Steve and Raymond scout for the most promising kitchen inventions, they pick three for every show, they eliminate two, and then they bring their selection to  Swerve Inc., for assistance in presentation and packaging and then finally to Lifetime Brands, a sales and distribution company for the final analysis. 

At the Lifetime Brands, the chosen inventors make the pitch themselves as to why their food gadget should be on retail shelves across America.  Steve and Patrick along with the inventors wait in the lobby while the executives of Lifetime Brands decide if they will agree to distribute the product.  The anticipation is nerve racking.  Even the audience at home watching get emotionally involved because if the product gets accepted it will change the lives of these inventors forever.  There is a little bit of all of us in these segments. That is why this series is probably going to get picked up after the first six episodes.

The storyline of “Invention Hunters” is actually what the American public wants today—a way to reinvent themselves. The show gives hope that there is always a new chapter of our lives waiting to be explored. What I loved most about the preview that aired last night was what one of the inventors said when he didn’t get picked. “I will see my invention through till the end. I will make it happen. This is my passion. I can’t wait to get up in the morning to do one more thing that will make my gadget a success.”   How many of us feel exactly the same way. My guess is very few. 

To catch the fever, be sure to tune into “Invention Hunters” tonight at 9pm on the Food Network.  By the way, Steve Greenberg had no idea that I was going to write about him today.  I didn’t know it myself until I sat down to write today’s post for DigiDame.  Then I remembered the inspiration I felt from each of those inventors that Steve and Patrick met.  I also thought about the people who appear on “Shark Tank.”  You may think reality shows are fake but one thing is for sure, the inventors are real.  They are so real that they motivated me one more time to try something new.