Brian Altomare is the owner of LugLess, a door-to-door luggage service that appeared on the Season 4 finale of Shark Tank. Unfortunately a deal wasn’t struck with the Sharks, but Brian did a nice job with his pitch and I was curious about his experience, his thoughts on the Sharks’ strong reaction to his business model, as well as the reaction of fans and viewers. Recently he stopped by InTheSharkTank and we chatted about all the above.
Question: You opened your pitch to the Sharks sounding confident and ready to make a deal. Tell us about how you prepared for your appearance and what you were thinking at the beginning of your pitch.
Answer: Initially, I wrote a very long pitch with everything we wanted to say to the sharks and viewers about our amazing luggage shipping service. Then, I would edit the pitch each week and rehearse in front of employees, friends, and my family. I treated the opening pitch like a script I had to memorize. I knew I would be nervous, so I wanted to make sure I could repeat it no matter what I was feeling at any given moment. I also knew this was the only time the sharks could not interrupt me, so I wanted to make sure I nailed it. The immediate sensation I felt and thought when I walked out and stared the sharks dead in the eyes was, “oh no, what have I gotten myself into!?” Daymond and Mark said something to each other and laughed my way and then the producer gave me the cue to begin.
Q: Going in to the tank, was there a particular Shark (or Sharks) that you were hoping to do a deal with?
I was hoping to get Mark Cuban, since he was in my fraternity, Pi Lambda Phi, and I thought he would have the most access with his production house, theater chain, and access to the movie business. A good deal of our customers are actually actors and producers. I also thought his sports team and access to professional athletes would also be a big hit for LugLess since we service professional athletes as well.
FedEx and LugLess: Competitors or Compatriotes?
Q: Robert immediately mentioned FedEx and it seemed to come up again a few times. Do you get this comparison question a lot, or were you surprised by it?
I was not surprised the first time. However, after the 5th time of mentioning FedEx I became frazzled. I kept explaining how we were partnered with FedEx, UPS and DHL and that we are assets to them, not competitors to them, since we take away all their customer service expenses while still using them to ship our packages.
Q: Overall the Sharks didn’t seem to waste any time trying to poke holes in your business model, partnership decisions, cost of doing business and customer acquisition. If you had another chance would you answer any of their criticisms differently than you did during filming?
Yes. I would definitely have stressed more why we are different and better than the big boys of shipping (dare I say their names again). We have more service flexibility and offer a $500 money back guarantee per bag. We still use the major shippers, however, we provide an easier way to sign up and take all the hassle out of setting up and monitoring luggage shipments for travelers. I also think the baggage fee comparison didn’t get driven home. We are cheaper on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th bag for a lot of airlines that charge baggage fees and we provide door-to-door service. I don’t think they understand the humor we find in paying to lug your own bags to and from the airport when we can pick it up from the home and send it ahead if time. If we happen to be more than what a particular airline charges for baggage fees, we still win because our customers are actually paying for a service that takes care of the luggage for them, as opposed to the pay to lug model that currently takes place in thousands of airports worldwide.
Q: In past segments a letter of interest and/or purchase order has rallied the Sharks around the idea that you need a little capital in order to get to the next level. Maybe it was all in the editing but I was surprised that the Sharks didn’t seem to react very positively.