Founders: Donte and Dominic Morris
Season: Appeared on season 9 in the week 6 episode
HoopMaps is an app that helps users find nearby pickup basketball games. The interactive app, which “connects with the basketball community,” is currently available for free on the App Store.
The location-based app features a simple and interactive design, which allows users to play with friends and connect with the basketball community, according to their website. “Our goal is to make Hoopmaps seamless as possible. We want to make it easy for you to find games and discover new friends on the app.”
When the duo originally appeared on “Shark Tank,” they came in asking for $100,000 for five percent equity. Lori Greiner worried about getting traction for the app and believed the brothers would need a celebrity influencer. She went out, as did Kevin O’Leary and Barbara Corcoran. Mark Cuban expressed concerns over their subscription model, while guest shark Alex Rodriguez thought the business was simply too small. They went out, leaving them without a deal.
Dominic Morris spoke with Business 2 Community about HoopMaps’ experience on the show and what their next steps are. Take a look at the Q&A below:
Q&A with HoopMaps’ Co-Founder Dominic Morris
What was your strategy for navigating “Shark Tank”?
Our strategy for navigating “Shark Tank” was really direct. Since we started our app just a few months prior, we knew we couldn’t answer for any accounts/sales history or any type of recorded business. We knew our only move was to appeal to the potential this app can bring with a high-profile shark. Our goal was to appeal to Mark Cuban and even if we did not make a deal with him, if we got an offer that would at least show the app in a great light. As we practiced, we really did a good job in explaining our app and the benefits we can bring to the basketball community. In front of the sharks, it went a different way, to say the least.
How has HoopMaps changed since the episode was first recorded? Since it aired?
HoopMaps changed since the taping of our show. During the taping process, we were in talks with the Big3, the 3 on 3 professional basketball league founded by Ice Cube. We actually told Mark that we were going to potentially work with them and he contacted them and our relationship with them strengthened. We ran the “4-point challenge,” a collaborative effort which cross-marketed both of our brands.
Is there anything you would have changed about your time spent in the tank, including your pitch and valuation?
No, I think our approach was the right one to take giving our business circumstances. I would just do a better job at explaining our business and really illustrating our business model. I would probably lead with the tournaments leagues and different offerings we have.
Who’s your favorite shark?
Believe it or not, Mr. Wonderful. He was really helpful in the advice he gave, a lot of what he said did not make it on screen but he understood what we were doing and he gave us some tips to point us in the right direction.
Despite not getting a deal, do you think “Shark Tank” was the right move for your business?
Yes, I’m not sure if we waited a year the offer would still be on the table. So exposure wise, it put us in a different category compared to the other apps in this field. And if it weren’t for us being on the show, we probably would not have secured our angel investment that we have now. We were at a limbo point that a lot of startups have, it’s the journey to get exposure and we hit a wave that brought us national attention and it’s our job from this point on to build on that exposure and convert it to a nice sustainable business. And we are on schedule to deliver that this year.
What are HoopMaps’ next steps?
We are currently building “Version 2” of our app, which will be available on Android and web version. We are focusing on packaging our technology for the private, public and government sectors. We see different uses for our app so instead of just servicing the basketball player that wants to play a pick up with another player, we are looking at the girl who runs open gym exclusive for women and how could she find more women players to add to her group. Or a team organizer who is looking to build a new team, how would he navigate our platform? Or a community center that offers open gyms, how would they inform people the schedule of their times and more?
We really see HoopMaps as a mapping intelligence company that can be a beneficial tool for municipalities and certain organizations so we are tailoring our app to encompass group messaging, scheduling and more features that will enhance the basketball community. Our expansion approach will come from bringing local municipalities along with organizations on board, market by market, to enrich the data we have for our users and more.
Where do you see this industry in 5-10 years?
Five to 10 years from now, we see “HoopMaps” (possibly another name) globally known as a platform where people can find the hobbies they love to do with other people that they share the same interest with. I see us drastically disrupting the way people connect with sports and the process of HoopMaps will be the universal process of playing local pickup games. Business wise, we potentially could be in position for M&A or possibly build this to be a large company that can inherit other startups that can complement our mission. But most importantly, I see the HoopMaps and I spreading what we do with HoopMaps across the world.
What would you say to people who want to start their own business?
It’s simple to start. It doesn’t take any money to go out and ask people about your business and get valuable feedback. I think too many people get hung up on things that are irrelevant to make a business thrive. You need a proof of concept before you start a logo, business license or purchasing any overhead. Research who is already in your field, see what they are doing that works and see how you can differentiate yourself from them. Get market research, ask your friends of friends about your business/product (I say friends of friends because your friends won’t tell you the truth because they care about you but strangers will.) But most importantly, you must start and stay consistent, it’s a roller coaster—just strap in and you will see the end.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who want to make it on “Shark Tank”?
You must have a unique business or a unique approach to a business. There are thousands of companies every season trying to get on. I’d say your best bet is to make noise in your local area and build up a name for yourself—that’s the best way to make it on.
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length