In last night’s episode, the Sharks pulled no punches for several internet-based businesses including PC Classes Online, a business founded and run by David A. Cox. Catering software training specifically to baby boomers, PC Classes looks poised for growth in the coming months after getting off to a quick start. Recently we sat down with the company founder and asked about his appearance on the show and the Sharks’ reaction to his pitch.
Question: David, I just watched your pitch, and man, the Sharks were brutal in their reaction to your business. Did you ever expect such a negative reaction?
Answer: I don’t know why they decided to attack over a mixup in terminology (add-on vs. bundle), but when I work with a client and they say their computer needs more “memory” instead of “hard drive space,” I don’t chew them out over it. Apple Stores have been offering classes for years now and I’ve sat in on many of them. They’re packed! And just like the ones I use to teach, not a single person is under the age of 50. The sharks saw a slip up in my pitch and instead of forgiving it and looking at the bigger picture, they decided to put it under a microscope.
Q: Did the editing of the show do your pitch justice? What if anything was left out that supported your valuation of $1 MIL?
A: I felt very rushed and didn’t get to explain several critical details. Kevin said if a million people signed up that we’d blow up and cut me off before I could explain to him that we have a cap set to 20,000 students at this time. If a million people tried to join, we had the website programmed to switch from “sign up now” to “give us your info and we’ll contact you as soon as we’re able to support more students.” Because we built the service out of sweat equity, we have virtually no debt. The $199 we charge students is over 90% profit. The fact that we are the ONLY live virtual classroom service that specifically caters to baby boomer market has major value and was one of many important facts left out.
Q: Out of all the Sharks, was there one you were especially hoping to work with? Why?
A: I originally wanted to work with Mark because of his marketing background. This is going to surprise a lot of people, but believe it or not, I’m very happy we didn’t get a deal. I’ve studied how the law of attraction works and considering who I am; patient, kind, sensitive, and forgiving, it wouldn’t have been a good match. Mark couldn’t look past a simple detail and missed the big picture.
Q: What do you say to the criticism that PC Classes Online is “30 years late” to the computer training industry?
A: Granted, math is hard, but last I checked computers weren’t around 30 years ago for the most part. And to respond to Mark Cuban’s comment, the Internet wasn’t around in 1985. Education doesn’t just go away because technology changes. There’s still a massive population that either fears or doesn’t just technology. If they think there isn’t a need for an affordable online education solution for baby boomers, they really need to go visit an Apple Store and see all the seniors crowded around desks, asking questions, and hungry to learn what their kids and the world hasn’t taught them.
Q: Despite the lack of an investment from the Sharks, are you still seeking an investment from another investor? How has business been since your taping?
A: Since taping the episode we did receive an offer from someone who wanted to ship the teaching jobs over to India. I wasn’t going to allow that to happen and made a promise to myself to always create jobs here in the USA. We’re not looking for an investment since we’ve already paid off all our debt, however we are looking to hire a savvy business manager. A CEO’s best asset is to know his weakness and then put it in the position of someone for whom it is their greatest asset. My skill is in teaching. Knowing something and knowing how to teach something are two very different skills that very few people possess.
Q: How did your pitch on Shark Tank and the reaction change your business or approach?
A: At this time we’re focusing much more on attracting customers directly from the Internet rather than trying to get into stores. To Barbara’s credit we are going to grow our business more like a grass roots movement. We did a ton of research before going on Shark Tank and I can honestly say, they were the first ones to think an online education service that taught technology to boomers was a joke. We received thousands of Tweets, E-mails, and Facebook comments that echoed my theory. The term “1% effect” comes to mind.
Q: Anything else that you’d like to add about how your business is going today, or your appearance?
A: We have steady growth and have yet to have a single person request a refund. Despite what looked like a devastating blow, this opportunity will open doors for us to align with business professionals who DO understand the need we’ve identified. Despite what I thought going into the tank, not getting a deal was absolutely the best thing that could have ever happened.
Q: What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are considering auditioning for Shark Tank?
A: Understand the risk and rewards and never fray from who you are.