For those entrepreneurs planning to show up at this Friday’s open casting call in downtown Chicago, we wish you the best of luck! There’s a lot of unknowns in regards to how many people are going to show up, but if I had to wager a guess based on the number of people that have sent us questions, easily in the hundreds and maybe even more. We’ve got all the official details below, along with some helpful tips.
CHICAGO OPEN CASTING CALL – FRIDAY MAY 11, 2012
Location: Embassy Suites – Chicago Lakefront
511 North Columbus Dr.
Chicago, IL 60611
Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
A great source of information on a past casting call experience comes from the good folks at Lollacup, who recently appeared on Shark Tank and made one of my favorite deals of the season with several Sharks. The founders, Mark and Hanna, attended an open casting call in Los Angeles and the link above conveys their experience. They were in line at 7am and were able to pitch around 2pm.
Since I’m a native Chicagoan and have some experience navigating to early morning meetings downtown, here are a few basic logistical tips that you may find helpful:
- Get in line way early. Shark Tank is more popular than ever before, so the Lollacup founders’ experience probably won’t be yours. Think “early” and then go earlier.
- Fill out your application early and bring it with you. Click here to download the application to open casting calls. Make sure to bring it in a folder or binder so it doesn’t get blown away by a wind gust, or carried away by pigeons sent by Kevin O’Leary.
- Book a room downtown. Since the casting call is at the Embassy Suites, we’ve heard that many entrepreneurs are booking rooms on Thursday and/or Friday night. Not a bad idea to eliminate any travel the morning of the event just so car trouble doesn’t keep you from getting a good place in line. Also, a word to the wise — don’t let your check-out time screw up your opportunity to pitch!
- Find a parking garage with an “early bird” rate. Parking in downtown Chicago is a pain in the neck and the costs of just a few hours in a garage can be over $30. However, many parking venues offer deals to drivers that park in the early morning hours. Performing a quick Chicago parking garage search, we found a lot within a block of the Embassy Suites that offers $12 parking if you’re in between 5am-9am and out by 7pm.
- Bring a chair. You may be in line all day, there’s no reason to make your feet hate you. Make friends with line-mates and I’m sure you can work something out to have your stuff watched while you pitch to the casting team.
- Be weather-aware. Right now the forecast on Friday in Chicago is a perfect 76 degrees and breezy (10-20 mph gusts). However, Chicago weather can turn on a dime. Make sure to check the forecast again Thursday night! Sometimes the wind can really whip around the buildings near the Embassy Suites, as it’s right near Lake Michigan. Especially if you line up in the wee hours, I’d recommend bringing a warm jacket.
If you have any questions about the open casting call, please ask. We’re here to help! Best of luck to you all, hope to see you in the tank soon.