Company: TekDry

Founders: Adam Cookson and Craig Beinecke

Season: Appeared on season 8 in the week three episode

TekDry offers a safer and faster solution to fixing wet phones. Their patented technology “uses a combination of low-pressure, controlled heat and proprietary beads to create a safe environment to remove 100% of the moisture from your wet device” and works better than sticking your phone in a bowl of rice, according to their website.

Small-device (flash drive, key fob, etc.) repair costs $39.99, while medium (smartphone, camera, etc.) and large devices (laptop, game system, etc.) cost $69.99 and $99.99, respectively. The water removal process can take as little as 30 minutes and will also restore any lost data. They have both in-store locations, as well as a mail-in service for devices damaged within the last 24 hours.

When co-founders Cookson and Beinecke originally appeared on “Shark Tank,” they came in asking for $500,000 for five percent equity. While many sharks saw its potential, they worried about how they would make their money back or how technology advancements could potentially set them back. Despite saying their valuation was too high, Kevin O’Leary offered $500,000 as a loan at 13 percent to be paid back in 36 months, then dropping to five percent equity, which they accepted.

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

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Q&A with TekDry’s Co-Founder Adam Cookson

What was your strategy for navigating “Shark Tank”?

My co-founder Craig Beinecke and I practiced our pitch for months leading up to the show taping. We also wrote down and practiced several pages of questions and answers that we thought we might get asked. I don’t think any of the questions were asked of us exactly as we had guessed but by practicing them we were able to adapt in the moment and present thorough answers to all of the Sharks questions during the Q&A. We also read up on the Shark’s personal histories and examined their strengths and the kinds of deals they had funded.

How has TekDry” changed since the episode was first recorded? Since it aired?

Since the date the episode was recorded, our sales have continued to grow and we secured a round of fundraising for our next batch of equipment manufacturing. Since the show first aired, we have begun the deployment of over 500 more machines to Staples’ stores. We have also expanded our team, adding sales staff to support the larger store network.

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

I think we did great! Since we had already raised previous rounds of investment there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room in what we could ask the Sharks for in terms of valuation without negatively affecting our investors (who in aggregate had already invested far more than the amount we were seeking from the Sharks). We are very happy with how we presented our pitch. I wish more of our interactions with the Sharks had made it into the final edit; there were some really funny moments and powerful stories in the Q&A with the Sharks.

Who’s your favorite shark?

Mr. Wonderful, of course ;-)

Despite not getting a deal, do you think “Shark Tank” was the right move for your business?

Appearing on Shark Tank was absolutely the right move for TekDry. The TekDry solution for wet phones, tablets, and laptops can help millions of people around the world and for that we need mass market awareness. Shark Tank is a great venue to create that awareness.

What are TekDry’s next steps?

TekDry is continuing to expand with Staples and we are actively in discussions with additional retail partners as well. In addition to retail, our patented technology has applications in the medical field which we will be developing in 2017.

Where do you see the cell phone repair industry in 5-10 years?

Smartphone sales globally are starting to plateau because smartphones have reached a level of performance where customers don’t really perceive the benefit of upgrading to the newest models. This means that people are starting to hang on to their phones longer and will be more inclined to repair rather than replace their phones. This is especially true as phone markets in developing countries fill up since phones in those markets cost a significantly higher percentage of customers’ disposable income. In developing countries, there is also a stronger culture of repairing belongings rather than disposing and replacing them.

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

If your business solves a real problem and genuinely helps people, and if you have a temperament for perseverance and problem solving, then go for it!

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

The research we did leading up to the show about previous contestants, which I think was correct, is that the Sharks tend to like businesses that have large mass-market appeal, solve a real problem, and are protected by some kind of intellectual property like a patent. That being said, the Sharks are also very much interested in you as a person. Don’t forget to spend time thinking through and preparing the emotional and impactful stories from your background. It is these stories that will give color to your business and help differentiate you from other contestants.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Never plug in a wet phone. Rice doesn’t work.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length

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