Delaware’s own Markevis Gideon knows you only get one chance in the Shark Tank.
So when the NERDiT NOW founder learned his business was selected to appear on the hit ABC show, he studied old episodes and perfected his pitch for weeks, hoping to come away with a big investment in their start-up venture.
Last March, when his baby boy Malachi was only 9 days old, Gideon drove to Kentucky to attend the last open call of this year for Shark Tank episodes that would air in 2019.
After getting the thumbs up from producers, Gideon and his business partners Jake Voorhees and Jonathan Hoxter — both graduates of University of Delaware — made their way to California last May with a game plan to attract two particular sharks they thought would be most interested in investing in their business.
Their Shark Tank episode will air on Sunday, October 27th at 9 pm on ABC.
Gideon’s business, NERDiT NOW, which he launched in 2015, repairs mobile phones, tablets and all types of computers. They also remove viruses, buy old laptops and run free diagnostic tests. Their 501c3 nonprofit, The NEDRiT Foundation also donates over 100 computers a year to underserved communities.
With one mobile office (a converted ambulance for sick devices) and two other service locations, Gideon is looking to expand. The newest prototype is a kiosk where customers can drop off their devices and have them repaired and returned in four to six hours. Customers would see and approve the pricing before they insert their device.
“Once the locker closes, it pings us and tells us a device has been dropped off, what that device is and what repair is required,” said Gideon. “We’ll then send the tech out there in our ambulance to pick it up, we’ll repair it and return it within six hours.” The ambulance is also fully equipped to do most repairs, alleviating the need for devices to have to make their way to NERDiT NOW’s location on West Newport Pike, in the 1st State Plaza (Cinemark Movies 10) shopping center.
NERDiT NOW’s kiosk, with the company’s signature bright blue and green colors, is similar to Amazon’s locker drop-offs already sprinkled throughout the country – even at Whole Foods.
Gideon expects that about sixty percent of the drop-offs will be phones, twenty percent will be tablets and the rest will be either game consoles or computers. “Our prices are extremely reasonable – an average repair for an iPhone 6 to an iPhone XR would be $85. The Samsung costs are a little bit more pricey, around $185, because the parts cost more. But I can’t beat ‘free.’ If your phone or device is under warranty, you should take it to the manufacturer,” says Gideon.
Gideon has only one kiosk so far. He would like the sharks to invest in 10 kiosks that he would place in New Castle County – at hotels, hospitals, universities, and large banks and companies. He then plans to expand to Philadelphia and Baltimore.
Gideon explained the purpose of going on the show was to look for an investment and future partners. That’s why the Widener University grad and his business partners carefully considered which sharks were their best targets.
“Our favorite sharks were Mark Cuban and Daymond John,” he said. He says he and his team were “very confident” going into the pitch.
They practiced over and over and found chemistry in the story of the business they are so passionate about. Markevis discussed the flaws he has seen in other business pitches on the show.
“We believe that some people are there for the wrong reasons. We knew that there was more than just publicity in our business,” Gideon said.
Due to a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) signed to protect the details of the outcomes of the show, Gideon was unable to discuss how the pitch went or if he made a deal with any of the sharks.
Gideon, Hoxter and Voorhees have previously impressed a local panel of judges. They were awarded second place in the University of Delaware’s Hen Hatch Competition in 2016. It was a huge push forward in the right direction giving them the opportunity to open their first retail location.
“Back in 2016, where we won $9,000, that was what helped really leverage our business and it took us to a whole other level. It was really a very small amount of money in the grand scheme of things, but back then we were still working out of an apartment, and then moving into a storefront really helped our business grow,” Gideon said.
Markevis is also featured in a TedTalk “Find Your China” from September 2018 (https://youtu.be/t-y-4ZDH0hA) in which he speaks on challenges, growth and finding one’s way.