Carrie Rengers

‘Shark Tank’ star is Chamber’s Annual Dinner speaker

Daymond John, “the people’s Shark,” is the speaker for the Chamber’s 2016 Annual Dinner.
Daymond John, “the people’s Shark,” is the speaker for the Chamber’s 2016 Annual Dinner. Courtesy photo

In case the Have You Heard? hints about this year’s Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce 2016 Annual Dinner speaker weren’t clear enough, we’ll go ahead and say it.

Shark Tank” star Daymond John will be the speaker for the Dec. 1 event, which is open to the public.

On the ABC series, which features successful businesspeople who hear pitches from entrepreneurs and decide whether to invest in them, John has a reputation as “the people’s Shark” who champions underdogs.

John also is CEO of FUBU, a fashion company that originally stood for “Four Urban Brothers United” but now stands for “For us, by us.”

His first fashion success came when he recreated a popular-style hat and sold it at a cheaper price. In just a few hours, he made $800, and his career was born.

John and some friends started FUBU, and he and his mother mortgaged the home they owned together and turned it into an office and factory.

These days, John is a regular on the motivational talk circuit and has written books about entrepreneurism, including one called “The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage.”

Chamber chairman Barry Schwan acknowledges that John is a departure from a lot of the past Annual Dinner speakers, many of whom have come from the political realm. He says some local entrepreneurs will take the stage with John, though he’s not sharing details about that yet.

“We’re really excited we were able to work it out with Daymond,” Schwan says.

“We’re really going to kind of change up the way we do the dinner as well.”

Instead of a plated meal, there will be food stations for the dinner before the talk “essentially to emphasize more networking and more casual interaction,” Schwan says.

“So that’s going to be kind of fun.”

Schwan says what’s most impressive to him is that the event is now going to feature some beer with dinner, which he says has previously been entirely too focused on wine.

Tickets for the talk are at

Schwan says he thinks the changes will “re-energize the whole event.”

“We’re going to try to make it a little more lighthearted. A little more social.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers