Graduate Blog / Graduate Life

Swimming With a Shark On Founder’s Day

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to experience my first “Founder’s Day” at Babson.  For those who may not know, I’ll let the Babson internal marketing/PR team explain what Founder’s Day is:

Since 1947, a day has been set aside to recognize Roger W. Babson, founder and first president of Babson College, and his passion for entrepreneurship, education, and philanthropy.

Not only were there several events being held on campus throughout the day, but in typical Babson fashion, additional Founder’s Day celebrations were held globally in cities such as Miami, Dubai, Beijing, and Sao Paulo!

As President Schlesinger said, "time to dive deep!" Get it? Sharks? Dive?

As President Schlesinger said, “time to dive deep!” Get it? Sharks? Dive?

With finals looming next week, our “SEERS” final presentation that same day (worth 20% of our final grades in Technology & Operations Management as well as Managerial Accounting), and yet another blizzard-like New England winter storm occurring on Friday, I chose to only attend one of the headliner events – the “Last Chance to Swim With The Shark,” an hour-long interactive presentation/discussion with Babson’s former Entrepreneur-in-Residence and current Entrepreneur Emeritus, Daymond John – founder of FuBu clothing, and “Shark” venture capitalist on ABC’s popular show “Shark Tank.”

For his discussion, Daymond decided to break down an entrepreneur’s “Rocket Pitch” for investment from one of the Sharks.  He chose a startup named “Litter,” which was, from my limited knowledge of women’s fashion, something involving jewelry and women’s fashion accessories using repurposed….jewelry.  I’ll let the ladies explain themselves:

In the interest of time (yours and mine), below are some fun “insider” facts Daymond let us know about the show, as well as some pieces of advice he had for Babson entrepreneurs:

  • You usually don’t see the entire negotiation on the tv show – in actuality, they are much longer.  The shortest negotiation with an investor was 20 minutes, while the longest went for about 2.5 hours!
  • As a Shark, it is their job to find out where the entrepreneurs are naive about their business, and pounce on it.
  • As an entrepreneur, one of the first things you should do is find an advisor who believes in you and, more important, provides you and your venture with credibility.
  • In negotiations, having a quick and exact deadline is integral to his investments.   Mark Cuban utilizes a similar strategy, with his “24 second shot clock” (an homage to his love of basketball, as owner of the Dallas Mavericks.  This hard deadline not only provides him with “hand,” as George Costanza would say, but it also  tests the entrepreneur for the dreaded “analysis paralysis” – if you can’t act quickly, maybe you can’t hack it as an entrepreneur and a leader?  Daymond also was quick to note that this strategy could work for you or against you
  • Proof of concept is the most important thing on Shark Tank to pitch business. As an entrepreneur, ask yourself: Where are your sales? Where can you sell and at what price?
  • “You can make up your own ideas and assumptions as an entrepreneur, but you can’t make up facts.”  Stick to facts.

As an update to “Litter,” Daymond mentioned that they are now going to do around $500k in sales this year, but it wasn’t without hardship, as many entrepreneurs face.  It was a “nightmare” for them the 1st year, but they are learning to face adversity and are learning, under Daymond’s lead, to become real businesswomen.

Lastly, President Schlesinger presented Daymond with a certificate thanking him for his contribution to Babson, and officially naming him Babson’s inaugural “Entrepreneur in Residence Emeritus.”


Thanks on behalf of Babson, Daymond John!