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Sports Startup Entrepreneurs Pitch Ideas At Charlotte's 'Sports Tank'

Stephanie Dohmlo
TPG Sports Group

On the ABC show Shark Tank, entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to potential investors. The investors, or sharks as they’re called, either sink the propositions, or get on board and invest. A Charlotte sports company called TPG Sports Group held their own version of the event last week called Sports Tank. Fourteen entrepreneurs from around the country pitched their ideas. 

Jason Kristufek flew to Charlotte from Lincoln, Nebraska. He’s seeking a $500,000 investment in his company.

"You’re always nervous. You’re in front of a crowd presenting. You never know what kind of questions they’re going to ask," he says.   

He’s the founder of Fanstreamm. It’s an app for groups of people to buy tickets to minor league games. It also collects data from users which they can use to market strategically and get users to buy more tickets. 

"Every customer that we acquire equals roughly 25,000 in annual revenue for Fanstreamm," he says in his pitch to investors. 

All he needed was one investor, and he got it. Chris Steele is an investor from New York, who flew down to participate. 

Credit Stephanie Dohmlo / TPG Sports Group
The sharks including Chris Steele (second from left).

"Jason, I think you are onto something here. I need to know what money you need to make this thing successful."

Other sports startups who made the trip included a customizable clipboard for coaches, apps that would deliver food to your seat in the stadium, and an app that's like Facebook but exclusively for golfers.

These entrepreneurs have nursed their ideas like babies, poured a lot of money into them, and stayed up late for months or years developing them.

"We want to see some skin in the game. We want to know that they dropped everything. To us, you know, that means they’re serious. There are a lot of founders who do this part time, have a great idea but they’re not all in. You want to have founders that are willing to do everything they can, 24/7 365 for it," said Amish Shah, an investor with a venture capitalist firm in Charlotte called Sierra Maya 360.

Another company called Light Bohrd pitched itself as a company that puts LED lights on snowboards and helmets.

Investors asked basic questions, like – what’s your focus? Where did your initial funding come from? At the end of the Q and A, they told Light Bohrd that they liked the idea, but they weren’t ready to invest.

"But me and Chris need to see a co-founder, and a crowd funding success on one product, so we know there’s something there," says Shah. 

Each presentation includes a five minute pitch and a fifteen minute Q and A. That's where Fanstreamm excelled. The investors were satisfied with nearly all of Kristufek’s business plan.  Except maybe his last answer, which they clearly didn't think was realistic. 

"No, I will not lose money this year."

Things look good for Fanstreamm – New York investor Chris Steele was interested, which made Kristufek feel pretty good.

Kristufek is pretty reserved, even after he made a potentially huge deal for Fanstreamm. He says there's good reason for that.

"One thing that you find out about this is that the highs are really high and the lows are really low and they change so fast that you have to kind of stay within it."

At the lunch break, Kristufek finds Chris Steele, the potential investor from New York, to talk. Steele is standing in a closed circle of sharks, talking about what they liked and didn’t from the morning session. Kristufek waited politely for the right moment.  

They talk about next steps, and Steele reiterates several times that if this deal happens, he will be a very active partner in the company. He likes Fanstreamm because of the data component. Sports teams that use Fanstreamm pay to access user data.

Later, Kristufek says, "My mom was the first one I texted. It’s a good feeling I mean, you work hard, and do a lot of things, and maybe one day you’ll get a paycheck."

Eleven out of the 14 companies had potential deals by the end of the day.

Kristufek hasn't made a deal yet. But already, the investor wants to know when the ultimate exit would be -- when the founder wants to move on from Fanstreamm. Kristufek hopes to sell in a couple years.