Some companies were made for Shark Tank. That’s what the founders PopUp Play kept hearing when talking about their company.
“Were you on Shark Tank?”
“You should really apply be on Shark Tank,” people told the startup.
While the thought was there, PopUp Play founders Amelia Cosgrove and her husband Bryan Thomas, decided to submit their application last April while their company was part of the Techstars accelerator.
“We’ll do this but there’s no way we’ll ever get on,” Cosgrove said at the time.
But then again, some companies were made for Shark Tank. PopUp Play heard from Shark Tank last Friday that their episode would be airing this month.
“And we got the email on Friday and then it was like ‘Oh my God this is real – this is really going to happen, I can’t believe it,'” Cosgrove said.
After running the gauntlet at the Capital Factory and Techstars accelerators and then winning the entertainment category at SXSW, PopUp Play is going to swim with the sharks on January 27. Cosgrove will be joined by Thomas as they pitch the series of judges/investors on Shark Tank.
PopUp Play lets kids design custom cardboard castles, gingerbread houses and (soon) rocket ships on an iPad or computer, then ships the playhouses to homes where the kids can put them together, add their flourishes and artwork and use an iPad to play with their building in augmented reality.
Luckily the sharks aren’t the only investors PopUp has to rely on since they’ve already secured funding from Capital Factory, Techstars, Silverton Partners and Floodgate. The show stipulates that the companies keep their episode outcomes a secret, so we’ll have to wait to find out whether that investor base has grown or not.
After taping the episode last September, the next thing to do was wait. Cosgrove said that while they hoped the episode would air, there was no guarantee they would be on, and even if they were, the show only gives a short notice. So while they were hoping to be on Shark Tank and preparing for the inevitable traffic that comes after an airing, they still had a business to run.
“That whole time you have in the back of your mind that any moment you can get an email or phone call from Shark Tank then have to switch gears to get ready,” said Cosgrove.
The company started testing its website and servers to make sure they could handle the load when the episode airs in front of 6 million people. These are things they needed to do anyway, she said. But the upcoming episode accelerated that timeline.
So until the episode airs, Cosgrove, Thomas and the rest of the PopUp Play team will be making sure everything is in order, taking action against pitfalls they learned about while researching how to handle a Shark Tank appearance.
Their friends are throwing a watch party for the couple and co-founders, but, while there will be cheering and celebrating, Cosgrove and Thomas will quietly be there, laptops open watching their numbers and making sure their site makes it through the episode.