Update: Swimming with sharks can be painful

September 15, 2012
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indianapolis entrepreneur Derek Pacqué pitched his business idea to potential investors on national TV and walked away empty handed—by choice.

On the Sept. 14 season premiere of the popular ABC show “Shark Tank,” Pacqué asked the panel of experts for $200,000 in exchange for a 10 percent stake in his startup CoatChex, a ticketless coat check system he developed as a student at Indiana University.

Their reaction was chilly, at best.

The so-called sharks—billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, real estate tycoon Barbara Corcoran, venture capitalist Kevin O’Leary, fashion and branding expert Daymond John and tech mogul Robert Herjavec—tore into the 23-year-old Pacqué when he admitted the company doesn’t have any customers yet.

Cuban called the fund-first, sell-later strategy a “horrible, horrible, horrible idea,” given the glitches that are an inevitable part of any new technology product.

John, Corcoran and O’Leary quickly passed on the investment opportunity.

“You don’t have a plan for distribution and sales, which is the greatest challenge,” O’Leary said.

Herjavec said he like the idea, but challenged Pacqué’s $2 million valuation of the business. Ultimately, he declined to invest.

Cuban saw more potential in the idea. “If it does what says it does, I can flip it in Silicon Valley in about 15 seconds,” he said.

He offered $200,000 for a 33-percent stake in CoatChex, valuing the unproven firm at $600,000. After a quick phone consultation with co-founder Gerry Hays, who teaches venture capital and entrepreneurial finance at IU, Pacqué said no.

Pacqué told the incredulous sharks that he made his pitch too early—he applied to appear on the show on a whim—but vowed to prove that CoatChex will work.
“I’m in dead shock that I just turned down a deal from Mark Cuban,” he said on-camera after the exchange. “I don’t know what happened.”

  • What happened
    What happened was, he didn't have confidence in his NEXT idea. Sell this one. Flip it. Make the coin and move on to the next idea. Epic fail by the kid and his teacher.
  • Big Picture
    Actually, probably a better call than it appears - a failure on their part to see the BIG picture - it's not something to "flip" that quick. It's an entire "system" (bailment technology) - he's got something for more than checking coats, it can be used for valet parking, ticket verification for everything from Super Bowl tickets to parking tickets - it's amazingly versatile, they just didn't see it. Long term - he'll be a "shark" someday!
    I watch the show every week and it's too bad that the "teacher" who might be a good teacher but NOT a real business person told Derek to pass on the deal! Cuban was looking past the initial idea and could see the BIG picture. Too bad Derek didn't have more confidence to make the deal. A once in a lifetime offer!
  • He actually is working with Cuban!
    I met Derek at the I.U. football game and Mark Cuban is working with him on this venture!

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
  1. Only half a million TV Viewers? And thats an increase? I knew Indycar was struggling but I didn't know it was that bad. Hell, if NASCAR hits 5 Million viewers everyone starts freaking out saying its going down hill. It has a long way to before Indycar even hits NASCAR's bad days.

  2. IU has been talking that line for years with no real progress even with the last Dean, Dr. Brater. Why will an outsider, Dr. Hess, make a difference? With no proof of additional resources (cash in the bank), and a concrete plan to move an academic model that has been outdated for decades with a faculty complacent with tenure and inertia, I can count on IU to remain the same during the tenure of Dr. Hess. One ought to look to Purdue and Notre Dame for change and innovation. It is just too bad that both of those schools do not have their own medical school. Competition might wake up IU. My guess is, that even with those additions to our State, IU will remain in its own little world squandering our State's tax dollars. Why would any donor want to contribute to IU with its track record? What is its strategy to deal with the physician shortage for our State? New leadership will not be enough for us to expect any change.

  3. How do you think the Bridges got approved? I spent a couple days researching PAC's and individual contributions to some city council members during that time. My printouts were inches thick on the two I concentrated on. Finally gave up. Was disgusted with all the donations, and who they were from. Would have taken me days and days to compile a complete list. Tried to give it to the Star reporter, but he thought it was all just fine. (and apparently he was treated well himself) He ended up being laid off or fired though. And then of course, there was land donated to the dad's club, or city, as a partial payoff. All done in the shining example of "charity." No, none of these contributions are a coincidence.

  4. I agree what kind of help or if any will be there for Dr. Ley's patients. I was a patient myself.

  5. What about the hundreds of patients who sought this doctor for the right reasons, to quit drugs. what option do these patients now have, experience horrible withdrawl or return to heroin?? those are the choices. what about the children of these former addicts who's parent(s) WILL not b able to maintain their job, for @ least 2 weeks.. There needs to b an emergency clinic opened for these patients.