The Sharks on the show may not have seen any reason to invest, but the show still paid off for this startup.
Although the pitch made by Garrett Gee, founder of the startup called Scan, may not have successfully gained an investor from the popular reality show, Shark Tank, the QR codes that he displayed on the screen managed to provide the company with an invaluable mobile marketing opportunity that has paid off many times over.
Many are saying that in this way, the startup managed to accidentally hack the show.
For those who don’t know the premise of the show, the Shark Tank is an ABC reality television series that allows entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses, brands, and products to a panel of investors such as fashion giant Daymond John, Billionaire (and owner of the Dallas Mavericks) Mark Cuban, and internet mogul Robert Herjavec, among others. The purpose is to gain an investment in exchange for a part of the company’s equity or a royalty. Gee displayed QR codes while he was making his pitch.
The QR codes helped Scan to sidestep the show’s rule that URLs cannot be displayed.
Gee had been seeking one million dollars in exchange for a 5 percent stake in the company. He was unsuccessful in showing the Sharks that his company was worth the investment. That said, it turned out just fine as the day before the airing of the program, Entree announced an investment of seven million dollars into the Scan.
The experience on Shark Tank is a difficult one, as successful business people tear a company or product apart in order to determine whether or not it is a worthwhile investment. Hours of shooting are edited down to a brief 15 minute segment. The entrepreneur will not know for certain what will be shown and what will be edited out, until the show actually airs.
In order to comply with the regulation that the URL for the company could not appear on screen during the filming, Gee and his team created a special logo for the company to drop the “.me” from the “Scan.me” name. Instead, as a part of the presentation, Gee displayed large, prominent QR codes so that he could demo what Scan was doing with those barcodes. The team from the show eliminated all signs of actual web addresses but had no problem with the quick response codes, which are – in essence – URLs that can be updated forever.
Though his device was in airplane mode, the barcode was linked to Instagram (it had been directed there months beforehand). Following the show, the barcode has been successfully and continually scanned not only from the show itself but also through the Instagram feed, for an entirely unintentional hack of the show.