Editor’s Note: The following article was submitted to InTheSharkTank anonymously. While we typically do not accept anonymous submissions, I feel this article is helpful for entrepreneurs who have little or no idea of what to expect at an open casting call. — Andrew
My Shark Tank Audition Experience
The historic FOX Theater in downtown Atlanta marked the first of five venues where Shark Tank hopefuls convened in hopes that it may provide for the first of many steps on their journey in the casting process. As a ‘participant,’ I thought I’d share with you my experience.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect as my biggest question was when to arrive. I had never participated in an open call of any kind before and Atlanta was the first city on the list, which had never been a host city for Shark Tank before. Was it advertised well enough as the first stop on the list? Would Atlanta draw as many people as other cities who have hosted before? How early before the 11:00 am wristband distribution time would people arrive?
I was fortunate enough to have booked a room at the Hotel Indigo, one of two hotels across the street from the FOX Theatre, within days of the open casting call being announced. My room rate, because of a discount code I had, was $106/night…certainly well worth the expense considering I was coming from out of state. While there were a handful of rooms still available the night before, by then, the high demand and limited availability jumped up the rates to nearly $200/night. Note to future participants: book early. You can always cancel. After all, we small businesses need to save money.
Because of the kindness of a fellow entrepreneur who I had met the night before, her room overlooked the FOX and she began texting me and others beginning at 5:00 am to let us know “the status of the line.” My room was on the back side of the hotel, a regret that I had in not requesting a FOX-facing room upon check-in. Her willingness to help others showed what a great “mompreneur” she was. I didn’t quite get the good nights sleep that I had hoped, even though I was fully prepared for my pitch. I seemed to wake every hour so I ended up getting ready much earlier than I set the alarm for…and good thing I did.
I wandered out of my room to drop most of my luggage contents in the back of the car so I could roll with me my suitcase stocked with my samples, much needed snacks and my paperwork, already thoughtfully completed before I left home. After grabbing my “tailgate” chair from the back of my car and one last trip to the bathroom in the lobby, I rolled my suitcase to the parking lot across the street around 7:15 am where it seemed hundreds were already in line. I saw a tweet from someone who was around #40 in line saying they arrived at 4:00 am.
The parking lot was full of all kinds of people. Some dressed in their business suits, some dressed as mascots and of course, there’s always going to be the “crazy lady” who starts yelling some random rant every 30 minutes making it known to all in line that she’s going to make it on the show. Loved her passion though I still never found out what her business was. The guy in front of me was a serial inventor, a brilliant man despite no background in engineering….reminded me of the “artificial hurricane for gold” guy in terms of intelligence yet not creepy at all. He and his son left Kentucky at midnight to drive straight down and couldn’t have been nicer. The guy behind me was a mobile apps creator who is also a pastor. He has a great ‘feel-good’ story in that he creates thousands of mobile apps per year for churches, schools, non-profits for fundraising. We all became good friends and even exchanged contact information.
I will warn future contestants to be prepared for the weather. Fortunately, I was dressed well (jeans, boots, long-sleeve pull-over). While the temperatures were not too bad (upper 50’s), the whipping wind made it feel 10 degrees colder than it was. Plus, the sun never came out. There were times that I wondered what I wouldn’t give to jump in that mascot costume of that lady 25 people ahead of me just to warm up a bit. Brrrr…prepare for the potential cold as I truly felt for the women wearing sleeveless dresses and strap-y shoes, wrapped up in blankets.