So how did two Wichita entrepreneurs do when they pitched to “Shark Tank” star Daymond John on Thursday?
Miguel Johns and Trevor Crotts must have done OK.
“These two pitches have been amazing,” John said afterward. “I see so much crap on ‘Shark Tank.’ I congratulate you.”
John spoke to hundreds of business leaders at the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce annual meeting.
He delivered a funny but telling talk about the value of paying attention to young people and their understanding of technology. He also agreed to listen to the entrepreneurs along with a panel of local people that included Jeff Turner, Christina Long and Scott Schwindaman, who have long experience with entrepreneurs.
Johns is founder of Kingfit, a digital health monitoring platform aimed at diabetes sufferers. Crotts is co-founder of high-end dog bed maker BuddyRest. Both are based in Wichita.
John, from New York City, made his mark as founder of Fubu, a hugely popular urban brand of clothing, in the 1990s and has since branched out to become known as a fashion mogul and expert on branding. He is known as the “people’s Shark” among the cast of ABC’s “Shark Tank” for his approachability.
In his talk, he praised the idea of mentorship in entrepreneurism but put a twist on it: Sometimes that superior knowledge comes from younger people.
“We can learn from this generation,” he said. “Didn’t our parents call us crazy? We talk about the millennials like that. They’re not crazy; they’re smart. We could learn from them. They’ve overthrown governments using Twitter.”
He added that millennial entrepreneurs aren’t just motivated by money but also by improving the world. He agreed with them wholeheartedly.
“Money is not success,” he said. “Money just drives you to your problems in a limousine.”
The two entrepreneurs said they were humbled to pitch to John, even though they have had make pitches to investors for months or years.
“When you start projects like this, you joke around with friends like ‘Hey, we might get on “Shark Tank,” ’ but you never think it might happen,” said Johns, the Kingfit founder. “And things like this happen and the whole process has been a dream – and very nerve wracking.”
“It was fantastic,” Crotts said. “It was an amazing opportunity to be involved in such an event like this, and getting to speak with somebody of the caliber of Daymond John was incredibly humbling and also fantastic to get his feedback.”
Schwindaman, who is taking over as chairman of the chamber in 2017 and has helped lead entrepreneur development efforts, announced that the multimillion-dollar e2e Fund believes in BuddyRest so strongly that it invested in it, its first in a Wichita-founded company.
“This is a renaissance of entrepreneurship in this city,” Schwindaman said. “You saw two of our companies, but there are many, many of those out there.”