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May 21, 2012

'Shark Tank' Contestant Holds Key to Success

By Julie Griffin, Contributing Writer

Phil Dumas of Orlando, Florida was up against some stiff competition on ABC’s third season of the reality show, “Shark Tank.” But perhaps his product shined in comparison to the others for having a technological edge.

The product in which Dumas asked the team of sharks to invest was a household key accessible through a smartphone. After listening to the product details, the sharks began circling, but the decision was ultimately Dumas, the president of Unikey Technologies.

Dumas agreed to an offer for $500,000 in exchange for 40 percent equity of his business.

This goes to show you that you don’t need a business degree to succeed as an entrepreneur. Phil Dumas, an alumnus of the University of Central Florida’s College for Engineering and Computer Science, impressed the sharks by demonstrating the technological merit of his product. Unlike other contestants, who surely relied on their looks or charisma, Dumas allured the judges with the sexiness that comes with a great idea.

Dumas’ decision to go with sharks, Kevin O’ Leary and Mark Cuban, was probably a smart strategy, as the former is an educational software engineer, and the latter a billionaire who made his start at twelve-years-old going door-to-door selling garbage bags.

Other contestants offered technologically innovative products, but were not as successful as Dumas. Frank Campetelli pitched the sharks his home workout machines that run on nitrogen for resistance. The assembly of the product, however, proved tedious and difficult, and he ultimately lost the sharks’ attention.

The show also demonstrated how green products are easier to sell now than ever before. A handmade girly jewelry company that featured products made of recyclable bottle caps had already netted $5 million before the three female family members came on the show.

Even a barely launched concept for recycled sneakers from a company named Remyxx got an offer. Some noteworthy products that were less successful were, “Bark ‘Ems to Go,” a travel package that combined, “food, water and treat,” for your dog when you travel and “Cougar” energy drinks for women aged 30-55. Not surprisingly, Barbara Corcoran, the woman in the shark tank, did not bite this one.

Edited by Braden Becker
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