(Adam Rose / ABC)
Next Friday, another Chicago-based company is diving into ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
Rent Like A Champion, an online vacation rental platform catered specifically to college football fans, hopes to join a growing list of local companies who have found success on the hit reality TV show.
CEO Mike Doyle said the company spun out of a brick-and-mortar student housing business after a year where one too many vacancies left Doyle and his three business partners scratching their heads.
That's when they began temporarily renting out some of those vacant homes to college football fans who flock back to campus to watch a game — often in groups of eight or more — only to find that college towns often don’t have enough hotel rooms to accommodate 80,000-plus fans.
“We bridge that supply and demand gap by connecting homeowners that live in college towns with football fans coming in, allowing them to rent out a home for the weekend,” Doyle said, who was joined in the tank by co-founder Drew Mitchell.
The duo's appearance on the show marks the first time the company had ever pitched to investors. Until then, they had been entirely bootstrapped.
“We never really had any plans of trying to raise money. But this was the kind of opportunity you don’t say no to,” Doyle said. “It was a no brainer.”
Doyle said after they received ABC’s invitation, they only had about two weeks to triple check their numbers, plan for questions, and rehearse answers.
“It was definitely a sprint,” Doyle said.
Rent Like A Champion already has presence on 21 campuses and has plans to add another 20 in the future. There are more than 1,300 homes on the platform, Doyle said, and 30,000 fans have already chosen to, well, rent like a champion.
“Our model has been proven several different times in towns across the entire country. We now want to scale that as quickly as we can, and ‘Shark Tank’ is an incredible platform to Kickstart that effort.”
Be sure to tune into ABC next week to cheer them on. Until then, take a look at some Chicago “Shark Tank” success stories:
Just last week, another Chicago company swam with the fishes and emerged victorious. Dude Wipes, a company that makes — you guessed it — flushable baby wipes for dudes who want a cleaner bathroom experience, nabbed a $300,000 investment from billionaire Mark Cuban, who took a 25 percent share in the company.
In 2014, ISU graduates and Packback co-founders Kasey Grandham and Mike Shannon appeared on the show, wooing Cuban and securing a $250,000 investment (in exchange for a 20 percent equity) from the investor. The e-textbook company offers a pay-per-use model where students can rent books for around $5 dollars.
Earlier this year, a Chicago-based sports manufacturer won over clothing entrepreneur Daymond John, who offered $500,000 in exchange for 20 percent equity in the company. Spikeball, a game that involves power-hitting a ball off a low-lying net against an opposing team, is growing in popularity among beach-goers.
Mark Cuban showed enthusiasm again for Chicago’s entrepreneurial spirit when he agreed to give LuminAID $200,000 for a 15 percent equity stake (and the option to lead the next round of funding). To be fair, LuminAID scored offers from every shark during its appearance, a rare feat that the manufacturer of solar-powered, inflatable lights took full advantage of.
Whoever said cats are hydrophobic has never heard of I Want To Draw A Cat For You, one of the tank's quirkiest success stories. The website, which agrees to churn out custom-made kitty cartoons, managed to land a $25,000 investment out of Cuban.