Entertainment / Events / Startups

Catch BearTek Gloves on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ this week

It's the second company with Columbia ties to appear on the hit show this year.

BearTek on "Shark Tank." (Courtesy photo)

Since launching in 2011, Willie Blount has taken BearTek Gloves to Kickstarter, TechBreakfast and big shows for motorcycle and snow gear. But there was one place he still hadn’t been.
“For years people always said, ‘This is a cool project. You should go on Shark Tank,'” said the Columbia resident and former Marine.
In September, Blount and current BearTek CEO Tarik Rodgers got their chance. The rest of the country will get to see what happened during this week’s episode of the ABC show. It airs Friday at 9 p.m.
Blount will be the second Columbia resident on the show in as many months. In January, Conscious Venture Labs-based Hungry Harvest made a deal for $100,000 with Shark Tank nice guy Robert Herjavec.
Blount couldn’t tell us much about what happened on the show, per its famously strict legal arrangements, but we did get a chance to get an update about BearTek Gloves.
The idea came out of Blount’s experience riding his motorcycle.
“If the smartphone is in my pocket, I can’t easily switch songs, answer a call or any of that stuff,” he said. Not to mention, grabbing the phone was unsafe.
He drew on a background that includes time studying electronic theory while in the Marine Corps to develop ideas and prototypes. The setting of this work was mostly his Columbia living room. Blount said there were helmet options already on the market, but he found putting controls in gloves ensured riders didn’t have to lift their hands.

BearTek's snow gloves.

BearTek’s snow gloves. (Courtesy photo)

The company’s smart gloves allow users to control Bluetooth functions on a smartphone like playing music or answering a call by touching the thumb to one of six touchpoints on the three middle fingers. The technology also allows for control of a GoPro camera. Along with motorcycle gloves, the company also has a snow edition for winter.
These days, the company is headquartered in Dallas, where Rodgers lives. A team of three people work full-time, and the company works with a pair of manufacturers to produce the gloves.
The dance with Shark Tank began a year and a half ago. After a lot of paperwork to ensure the company was viable, Blount and Rodgers found out they were selected for a September taping.
They pitched the product before, but knew they would need to hone it for the celebrity investors and primetime spotlight.
“We spent weeks practicing our pitch going back and forth on the phone and on Skype,” Blount said.
When the time to pitch arrived, all the TV trappings added another element. When the double doors finally opened, Blount said he drew on some advice: “Don’t forget the first words in your pitch. There’s no recovery from that.”
Throughout the process, they had to keep quiet about their involvement. That included being selected, flying out to Los Angeles and learning that their episode would air at some point between November and May.
But on Friday, the world will finally see what happened. Blount is planning a watch party at Buffalo Wild Wings in Columbia (6191 Columbia Crossing Dr.). Along with friends, he said he wants to share his experience with other entrepreneurs.
With the nationwide exposure it’s about to get, the company is also planning a big announcement on its website. As to whether or not he got a deal, Blount said we would have to tune in Friday to find out.

Companies: BEARTek

Knowledge is power!

Subscribe for free today and stay up to date with news and tips you need to grow your career and connect with our vibrant tech community.

Technically Media