ODU Magazine

Company: Line Cutterz

Founder: Vance Zahorski

Season: Appeared on season 8 in the week nine episode

Line Cutterz is a ring that makes it easy and safe to cut fishing line. The ring, which costs $12, is equipped with a double-sided blade and adjustable Velcro strap, and can cut mono-filament and braided fishing line.

Other products include lunker tamers, hook puller rings, glow-in-the-dark bandit worms and cutting arm band. Zahorski was inspired to create the Line Cutterz ring out of a need for “a safer and more convenient way to perform such a simple task,” according to their website. It offers a quick and convenient cut and is an “ultimate fishing essential.”

When Zahorski originally appeared on “Shark Tank,” he came in asking for $120,000 for 20 percent equity. Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec saw red flags and most worried that he could easily get knocked off. Despite thinking the product was “genius,” Lori Greiner also went out, as did Kevin O’Leary—leaving only Daymond John, who had offered $120,000 for 40 percent equity. Ultimately, after countering, Zahorski accepted a deal with John for $120,000 for 33 percent equity.

Zahorski spoke with Business 2 Community about Line Cutterz’s experience on the show and what their next steps are. Take a look at the Q&A below:

Q&A with Line Cutterz’s Founder Vance Zahorski

What was your strategy for navigating “Shark Tank”?

My strategy was to let the sharks know what I sacrificed to get the product off the ground (sold house, walked away from a six-figure job, sold gun collection and sold smoker) so they knew this company wasn’t just a hobby and that I was dead serious about Line Cutterz making big money. Next, I wanted them to understand this product is a “unicorn”. This one simple (now patented) idea can be used in two multi-billion dollar industries, Line Cutterz for fishing and DBA Thread Cutterz for sewing, cross-stitching, knitting and quilting.

Next, I wanted the sharks to see first hand how amazingly safe and powerful the Line Cutterz ring is by demonstrating its cutting ability (cutting 100lb test braided line) and then rubbing the ring against my skin to show it won’t cut skin. If I could accomplish this then I knew I would have the Sharks’ interest. My last strategy was to be polite, respectful and professional, yet also be firm and stand up for myself during negotiation. This way, I knew I would not have any regrets.

How has Line Cutterz changed since the episode was first recorded? Since it aired?

Our sales in the three weeks following our “Shark Tank” episode surpassed our entire 2016 sales. The Line Cutterz ring is now sold in 50 California Walmart test stores, plus we picked up hundreds of new independent dealers across the country. Line Cutterz has released several new products and is currently working on two partnerships with celebrity anglers who are both currently featured on TV.

Is there anything you would have changed about your time spent in the tank, including your pitch and valuation?

When I was asked how much it costs me to make one unit I gave them my raw product cost, before adding in shipping, import tax and packaging. Mark, Lori and Kevin were concerned that my margins were too high because of the product cost I gave them. If I would have given them my landed cost rather than raw product cost I think they wouldn’t have had such a concern with my margins.

Who’s your favorite shark?

Daymond John, Lori Greiner and Mark Cuban.

Do you think “Shark Tank” was the right move for your business?

“Shark Tank” is the right move for any business. Ten to 12 minutes on primetime television (Shark Tank) has an estimated advertising value of $5 million. On top of that, you have the opportunity to work with some of the most powerful and connected venture capitalists in the world. Definitely the right move.

What are Line Cutterz’s next steps?

Take advantage of the Shark Tank Effect and scale as quickly as possible. Introduce more versions of the Line Cutterz ring and expand into flat mount cutting tools. We are currently looking for warehouse space to handle our current and future growth.

Where do you see your business in 5-10 years?

The Line Cutterz ring is now being used in a diverse group of industries that range from fishing, to scuba diving, cutting guitar strings, bagpipe strings, cutting butcher’s string, balloon tying, crafting, sewing and the list goes on. We are expanding our product line, using the issued utility patent, and predict the Line Cutterz ring will be a household item. It cuts better than scissors, it’s safer than knives and scissors, it can be worn on a finger or mounted and it’s extremely portable and convenient for traveling.

What would you say to people who want to start their own business?

Do not start a business in a field that you are not passionate about. There is a reason Mark Cuban goes out when he believes entrepreneurs are not passionate about their business. Passion plays a critical role in success from social media, to working long hours, to product development and the list goes on. In most cases, entrepreneurs will not have the endurance it requires to be successful if their startup is in a field that they are not head over heels in love with.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who want to make it on “Shark Tank”?

Have a story. At the end of the day, this is a TV show so a good story will get you through the first cuts. Every entrepreneur has a story so figure out what your story is and what the producers will connect to, what America will connect to.

When you get there, be confident—don’t be overconfident—practice your pitch thousands of times. If you spend enough time preparing then you will have an answer for every possible question. Life is short and this is your golden opportunity so don’t blow it!

Anything else you’d like to add?

I have been blown away how many schools use “Shark Tank” in their curriculum. I have attended several “Shark Tank” school events and I have spoken to two schools and have plans to speak at another high school in April. The teachers are using “Shark Tank” to teach students about math (evaluation, product cost, sales, projections, graphs etc.), science (product development, experiments, proof of concept, materials etc), language arts (reading, writing, researching, presentations) and social studies – (economy, customer base, geographic location of customers, etc.) Working with schools and seeing how passionate and involved these young future entrepreneurs are has been extremely motivating. Giving back and being involved with such amazing teachers and students has been a reward that I could have never predicted.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length