If you plan to tune in to Shark Tank on Friday night, Shaan Patel hopes you’ll get your friends to watch, too. The founder of test prep company 2400 Expert is taking a bit of a different approach to his Shark Tank appearance. Instead of focusing on the surge of orders he’s likely to receive after the episode airs — the so-called “Shark Tank effect” — he’s trying to increase the show’s ratings from the get-go.
Using the hashtag “breaktherecord,” Patel took to Twitter to encourage people to retweet his home video promoting the next episode of Shark Tank.
— Shaan Patel (@2400Expert) January 18, 2016
Patel started his company based on his own experience of raising his SAT score from 1760 to 2400. He told Boston.com some simple tricks that help students get more questions right, like working backwards from the answers on algebra questions and eliminating incorrect answers on multiple-choice sections instead of looking for the right answer.
Philadelphia Business Journal explained that 2400 Expert has a low-cost business model in part because of its favorable lease agreements, ensuring low overhead. The company has three full-time staff in Las Vegas and about 30 part-time instructors across the country. PBJ reported 2400 Expert is established in 15 markets and students pay about $1,000 for a six-week course. 2400 refers to the perfect SAT score, which Patel says is his company’s main differentiating factor.
“This is the only program created by a student who got a perfect score.”
— Shark Tank (@ABCSharkTank) January 25, 2016
Even if Patel gets more than 8.6 million people to watch Friday night’s Shark Tank — the record he’s trying to break — the feat is no guarantee he’ll get shark backing. Of course, Patel already knows the result; but he, like all Shark Tank pitchers, have to remain tight-lipped until the show is broadcast.
In the meantime, he’s using his social media time well. In addition to launching the “#breaktherecord” campaign, he posted an article entitled “How to Get on ‘Shark Tank’ in Two Months” on his service’s website. Among his tips were to provide the Shark Tank producers with something physical to remember the pitch. At an open call audition, Patel had 60 seconds to make an impression, and it wasn’t going well until he produced his book on the SATs.
Will the sharks invest in his company? If the pitch relies too heavily on Patel’s strength as a test-taker and dispenser of test-taking tips, at least one shark may say “no.” Kevin O’Leary has shown a consistent reluctance to invest in a company that depends on one individual. His oft-repeated phrase on the issue goes back at least to the venture capitalist show Dragons’ Den in 2007.
“What happens if you get hit by a bus? You’re the guy to sell them, but you’re the only guy. For that reason, I’m out.”
Other sharks have shown interest in education-related companies. In Season 5, Mark Cuban invested $250,000 in Packback, a company that rents textbooks to students. The Wall Street Journal reported that the company received a total of $1 million in seed funding later the same year. Daymond John and Lori Greiner invested in scholarship app Scholly during Season 6, sparking an infamous fight on-set as the remaining sharks appeared to walk off after the entrepreneur, Christopher Gray, left.
Other companies did not walk away with a deal. Earlier this month, Village Scholarships, a crowdfunding platform, did not receive the backing of a shark.
Can Shaan Patel succeed in getting the Shark Tank numbers up to an all-time high? He has some work cut out for him; the Season 7 premiere clocked in at six million viewers, and in November the show got 6.9 million viewers when it preceded a highly-anticipated episode of 20/20.
Shark Tank airs Friday nights at 9 p.m. on ABC.
[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment]