Shark Tank episode: questions for the BusyBox team

March 7, 2023

Our shark tank episode aired again!  It was an amazing experience to be on Shark Tank and we had such a great time even though we did not get a deal done.

We put in hundreds of rehearsals, studied hundreds of Shark Tank episodes, and were incredibly prepared.  It kind of felt like being an Olympic Gymnast, rehearsing the same routine every day, multiple times, and then you step on that beam (or into “the tank”) and do your best and live with outcome.

Our outcome was not what we’d hoped for and the edits from the video team were both amazingly helpful (they cut some of my mistakes … Connor was mistake free) and a bit confusing to watcher.  Because of the way it was cut they left out the conversations about the $59 BusyBox R and the $129 BusyBox S and focused on the BusyBox D at $299.  

The cuts struck me as odd editing choices, but I know that the editors have an incredibly hard job to do, and it’s more about entertainment than a perfectly cohesive story.

As Mark Cuban has said in interviews, the time entrepreneurs are in the “tank" from 20~90 minutes, and the editors have to get that down to quick 6 minutes (ish) per segment. We were in the tank a long time, so they had a lot of editing to do. They know what makes the show entertaining, so I trust they did their best with what was shot.

When the show aired we got flooded with emails asking a wide variety of questions and different comments so today, I’m going to pre-answer those for folks who are curious.

Let's go.

Question: Why didn’t you give them work from home stats? I disagree with the Sharks, work from home is not a fad, you’ve got a product that meets a real need. Why didn’t you give them work from home stats?

Steve: We did cover work from home data, but it didn’t make the edits.  The Sharks are all smart people. But they also have their own opinions about future trends and it turns out Work-From-Home continues to grow.

Question: The sharks are right, $299 is too much!  Why are you charging so much?

Connor: The $299 model is our most expensive, and capable model, and it’s not for everyone. We talked with the sharks about our $129 and $59 models with them as well.
Lori really focused on the $59 model and talked with me a lot about that model. She had some great ideas for how, if we got a deal, we could lower the costs as we grow get even better prices with better volumes.  We spent a few minutes on the BusyBox D, our premium model, but most of the time was spent on the more mid-priced models.
I think that’s why they had to edit out the more affordable models, we spent a lot of time talking about those models and answering  their questions on those models, and it became hard to edit cleanly and keep continuity for the watcher of the show. I edit a lot of video, it’s my day-to-day job, and I think they had to cut the whole segment about the other models and how the sharks actually felt about those models.

Shark Tank Viewer Question: Why didn’t you let Connor talk?

Steve:  Actually, Connor talked a lot!  Connor did a great job (better than me) on the set.  He was engaging, answered all the questions well and was really the “rock star” of the day.  I was a wreck. But, the editors were not able to fit him in I guess.  That was one of the funniest “yank the wheel” moments while watching the episode.  Lori asks Connor a direct question, and he never answers it in the edits … of course he answered it on set.  I guess they had to edit out his answers to hit the window of time they need.  It’s got to be very, very hard to be an editor for this show.  I respect the job they did. 💯

Shark Tank Viewer Question: How long were you on the set?

Steve: Mark Cuban has put this out there several times, so this isn’t a secret, some pitches last 20 minutes, some last 90 minutes and the editors have to get it down to 5~8 minutes per pitch.  That’s an incredibly hard thing to do. We were on the set somewhere between 25 and 35 minutes I think. Time went so fast that I don’t recall the exact amount of “on set” time.

Shark Tank Viewer Question: I think your business has a great idea and the sharks missed it like they did with Dorbot which became Ring. Is your business doing okay after the sharks passed on your deal?

Steve:  Yes!  The thing is, Shark Tank helps you even if you don’t get a deal. The beauty of the show … and part of their mission I believe …  is that it really helps people to see a product that might be perfect for them.
We’ve been growing since the first airing and continue to struggle to keep up sales for one product, the BusyBox D (BBD).  The BBD sells really well even though we struggle to reliably get chips for them.  The backorder list is huge.
Ironically, the BBD is the same product that the one the sharks said was too expensive 🤷♂️  but it continues to be a “best seller” for us.
Shark Tank fans know the sharks passed on what would become Ring, a big miss, and the sharks themselves never proclaim to be perfect.  They choose businesses that are a good match for them.  They each have their “wheelhouse”.
We’re doing great and we are working hard every day to keep up with demand.  We’ve got a “tiger by the tail” right now and we’re having a blast.
We have some great products coming in 2023 that will show our bigger vision of moving beyond smart signs, and establishing intelligent productivity and creativity spaces in the smart home.

Question: Why do you charge what you do for your product?  Can’t I just make one myself?

Steve: We love DIY people, so yes, you can make one yourself.  In fact, on Adafruit you can buy an $89 kit to build one, but you'll need a 3D printer and know how to solder.  If you want to add Bluetooth, you’ll need to write and update code, but those features are sort of “next level” features.
The real thing that drives up the cost for these products is that we make them durable, undateable and upgradable. BusyBox products come with a lifetime warranty so they are built to last. The plastic is thicker, the components extra tested, the computer is high performing, the LEDs have an incredibly even light, and there are a million other details that make the product super high quality.
We believe, and we hear it all the time, that people are “blown away” with the quality of the product (their words, not ours).  Our level of quality is just not something you can DIY, but there is great pride in building your own gear.
Also, we support the products with FREE software updates for life.  That cost comes built into the price, so we won’t ever have to ask for $12 a year to update the software when the next Android or iOS update comes.
We’ve decided we’d rather ask for a bit more now, and give you a hassle free, long-lasting product than to nickel and dime you so we can keep the product going.  It's more of an Apple style business model than a PC model.  Pay more up front, get free software, vs. cheaper hardware prices, and pay for updates for the software.

Question: Can’t I just lock my door?  Why would anyone need this?

Steve: We get that comment a lot.  We’ve found that locks lead to knocks.  Knocks kind of defeats the whole idea if you’re trying to end interruptions.  Those folks usually come around quickly when you point that out.

Question: My kids can’t read so why would I get one?

Steve:  Candidly, the light is actually the one doing the heavy lifting. We know the words are fun and somewhat helpful, but let’s be real, the blinking light is doing 99% of the work here.  No matter what the message is, a light is what people notice.
Door signs are static, and very often easily overlooked, therefore not as helpful as a dynamic light.  That’s why we recommend using “blink mode” for your signs.  Not only is it easier to see, but it doubles your battery life.

Question: We need these at our company! How do I convince my boss to get us these?

Steve:  If a BusyBox stops 2~3 interruptions a week, it pays for itself for many professions.  There is a LOT of science that shows how interruptions can lead to increased error rates, rework, greater stress and lost productivity.  There are plenty of studies you can find from Harvard, UC Irvine, Stanford and private companies as well.
It’s been studied and proven that when you’re doing focus work like programming, accounting, legal docs, video editing, design work, etc. that a 3 second interruption will set you back 7 to 23 minutes before you’re back in the same productive state.  If you’re like most companies, a BusyBox has a return on investment of less than a week, and most certainly less than a month.  It’s an easy conversation to have with that data in your back pocket.

We hope that helps!  Check out our other blog posts on work-from-home studies, data and strategies.

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