Investing / Pitches

Praise, but no ‘Shark Tank’ deal for Wilmington’s NERDiT Now

The founders of the gadget repair shop left their primetime appearance without funding. It hasn't slowed them down.

NERDiT NOW on "Shark Tank." (Image via @MoriTaheripour on Twitter)

When I left NERDiT NOW’s First State Plaza storefront in Newport, Delaware a couple of weeks ago after interviewing biz partners Markevis Gideon and Jake Vorhees about their (then) upcoming appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” I would have bet money that the founders of the gadget repair shop had landed a deal. There was no hint of demotivation or disappointment. NDAs can’t hide everything, right?

It would have been a losing bet.

When the episode, which was taped in June, finally aired on Sunday, complete with a viewing part at The Mill (and preceded by an ABC continuity voiceover announcing “entrepreneurs from Delaware” were about to appear), anticipation was high.

One surprise was that the entire NERDiT Now tech ambulance was on the “Shark Tank” stage, along with the digital kiosk developed to make the same-day device repair concept easier to show. (The kiosk was initially developed because they thought they wouldn’t be able to show the ambulance in the “Shark Tank” format.)

NERDiT Now requested $150,000 for 20% of the company, with a $750,000 valuation.

During the high-energy pitch delivered by Gideon, Vorhees and cofounder Jonathan Hoxter, sharks Mark Cuban, Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary, Lori Greiner, Damon John and Matt Higgins appeared engaged.

Regular “Shark Tank” investor Barbara Corcoran, who didn’t appear in the episode, was among those tweeting about the pitch:

In the end, none of the sharks bit. There were questions about how scalable the concept was, if people would leave their devices in a box for repair and concerns that it was too early to invest. It probably didn’t help that the box was a prototype with software yet to be developed, and there was at least some misconception that it was in some way an Uber model.

The presence of the NERDiT NOW ambulance may have proven to be a distraction from the box, which, even though it’s still in development, has the potential to sit in the front of Walmarts, supermarkets, in office buildings and on college campuses, following the model of Coinstar and MinuteKey. In June, I’m not sure anyone knew that the box, not the truck, is the innovative idea in device repair.

So, what now? Again, this happened months ago, and Gideon, Voorhees and Hoxter have been moving toward scaling the box concept and launching franchise opportunities where buyers would have their own NERDiT Now ambulance and a territory of boxes to go with it.

The community, at least, seems ready to see the business move to the next level:

Companies: NERDiT NOW

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