Original SHARK TANK Episode
On Friday April 8th 2016, TROBO enjoyed the wonderful opportunity to be on SHARK TANK on ABC. You can watch our Season 7 Episode 23 appearance on Hulu:
What many people don't know is that we were in the tank for 45 minutes, but only 8 minutes are shown on TV. The Editors have the tough job of cutting down footage, and while being on the show was an incredible moment, many of the highlights of the product that were addressed in the taping ended up on the cutting room floor. We've included those here as well as some fun "behind-the-scenes" at the end. Watch our video below to get the quick version, or read the blog to get the details.
What SHARK TANK Left Out
One recurring theme that we have heard from all of many of the TROBO family is that they didn’t feel like the show really explained TROBO properly. So here is a quick list of the things that didn't make it to the TV screen.
- TROBO’s stories focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
This was probably the biggest issue that was not clear from watching our episode. From the beginning, our mission has always been to educate and inspire kids to learn about the amazing science and engineering that they encounter everyday. As parents, we hear those questions from our own kids and most of the toys and apps that they play with on a daily basis do nothing to inspire them. We wanted better for our own kids and for your kids too. While we did a cute demo on the show, we didn't get a chance to explain that the actual TROBO stories are longer and that they introduce kids to STEM concepts they are already curious about - How does a Car Work (Engineering), How do Bees Make Honey (chemistry), How do I Count Money (Math), etc. Many of these story ideas came from our own kids.
- We are parents too.
That's right! Chris and Jeremy are both Dads (Chris has a 4 year old son and a daughter on the way; Jeremy has a 7 year old daughter and a 4 year old son). As parents, we sometimes feel guilty about too much screen time but know that – especially in a busy household – some screen time is inevitable. We wanted to give parents a better option.
- We are also theme park and video game engineers!
We know that in the episode we were highlighted as “not ‘Toy Guys’”. But, the show neglected to mention who we are. In addition to our #1 role as parents, we are also theme park and video game engineers. We have worked on some amazing projects for some of the biggest entertainment companies in the world! The one thing that all of those projects had in common was amazing storytelling. We wanted to bring some of that amazing storytelling to STEM education in the form of lovable characters and a compelling, interactive story.
- TROBO is available for iOS devices (iPads and iPhones)
This is a question we get a lot. While we would love to have an Android version, we don’t have the resources to do that right now. We were hoping that through the show, we would get enough pre-orders to build an Android version. That plan is still on the table and we will keep you posted if there are any developments.
- TROBO comes with games too!
As parents, we know that imaginative play is important. That’s why we created myPal TROBO games. These games let your child play Astronaut, Police Officer, etc. with their TROBO plush toy and parents or friends. Together they can create amazing new experiences with their new best friend, TROBO!
- TROBO stories are interactive and your child is the star of the story!
You got the opportunity to see Daymond go through our brief Shark mini-story but what you didn’t see is that TROBO stories let your child personalize the STEM stories with their name and avatar. They get to go on adventures through science and engineering and the TROBO toy addresses them by name! The stories are even available in English or Spanish!
"Behind the scenes" things that never made it to airing:
- Jeremy's mic stopped working 30 seconds into his spiel. The producers stopped him, and we started our pitch all over. :]
- Daymond played much more than 1 screen's worth of the Shark story. He then tried to take his TROBO with him, which Chris had to wrestle away from him while assuring him that he'd get a personalized TROBO in a moment. You can watch demos of all our stories and games in our youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/herecomestrobo/videos?sort=dd&view=0&shelf_id=0
- We were in presales - we actually didn't even think to say that to the sharks (doh!). In presales on a tech toy start up, big box buyers like Target can't handle that risk. They wait until the product is through a year or two of infancy. That was the real answer as to why we only had 600 orders for the June taping. We're way past that now and have had interest from many retailers and international distributors. We're Amazon Exclusive partners, and they have been a great sales channel for us.
- We told the Sharks we were partially funded by an Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation.
- The voice on the show was a really bad mock-up of the real TROBO voice. Shark Tank couldn't use our actual text to speech technology to be heard over the broadcast for legal reasons. The real voice is much cuter and friendlier. Watch this video to hear Curie's voice about 30 seconds in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgPrnL1YS90
- Robert figured it out. He knew from the beginning we should be a platform company, and we confirmed that has been a huge part of our business plan all along. We built the TROBO app to be "reskinnable" with whatever brand's content and audio was needed to tell their stories (not just TROBO's).
- Daymond had also figured out that TROBO was a platform with licensing potential. He said as a part of his reason for going out that we did not mention using the funds for licensing deals. Our bad, Daymond. You can only say so much in the opening pitch.
One piece of feedback that we got during the show was that people might not want to buy additional stories in the app. We heard you, Kevin, so we have decided that with our May software release, ALL of the current TROBO stories and MyPal games will be unlocked when you purchase a TROBO! That's 6 stories and 8 games - a $30 value!
Another piece of feedback we got during the show is that the price is too high. We were in pre-sales when we taped the show in June last year. Since our launch in November we've have wonderful sales at that price. However, Kevin, we heard you again. We're running a LIMITED TIME SHARK TANK DEAL on our TROBOs and our SHARK TANK BUNDLEs, where we have dropped the price from $69.99 to $49.99 AND we've kicked in free shipping. When we pay shipping, that becomes a $30 savings on your TROBO and a $40 savings on your SHARK TANK BUNDLE. On the show we told Kevin and team we can get the price down to less than $50 with large volume manufacturing. Alas, that was a surprising cutting room floor item (again due to time limits). If you have been waiting for your chance, there has NEVER been a better time to get a TROBO for your kiddos. Reality is, we are not at high production volumes yet, but we DO want to know if that price is truly appealing to you, and there is only one way to tell us: BUY NOW or forever hold your peace. :]
We also have the single TROBOs on Sale at Amazon:
Thank you to the Shark Tank Production team, ABC, Sony, the Sharks, and Robert for believing in us enough to make that TV moment special. We love being a part of the Shark Tank family.
Jeremy and Chris