Thursday, May 1, 2014

ABC's "Shark Tank": running and reality TV collide!

Last Friday's episode of ABC's "Shark Tank" included a pitch from the developers of the Rugged Maniac 5K obstacle race, which is billed as a challenger to the infamous Tough Mudder obstacle race. The pitch for Rugged Maniac lay in the fact that there were 25 obstacles but compressed into a 3.1 mile course, so that it was less about running and more about the obstacles.

SPOILERS for 4/25/14 episode:

Things looked like they were going well for the Rugged Maniacs, as their business was generating seemingly healthy revenue and profit (which is what trips up most of those entrepreneurs who fail to make a deal). But when asked what they have been doing with the profits, they said they were building up a new event, which was not part of the deal:

Whoops! Shark Mark Cuban did not like that answer at all and proceeded to rip into the guys for having a big conflict of interest (i.e., what's to stop them from forgetting about Rugged Maniac and putting their time and energy into the Bull Run?)

The guys were willing to include the Bull Run in a deal but asked for three times as much money for the same amount of equity (but in both companies, not just Rugged Maniac).

Shark Robert Herjavec made an offer of $1.5 million for 25% of both (compared to the $3 million asking price), but then revised that offer to 33% of the company after Shark Kevin O'Leary questioned the valuation but offered to join the deal at a lower valuation. Meanwhile, Cuban continued to beat up on the entrepreneurs, which made it all the more ironic when he jumped back in with an offer equal to Herjavec's original offer (i.e., $1.5 million for 25%).

The Rugged Maniacs countered with 25% for $1.75 million, which Cuban pounced on. Deal!

It was quite cool seeing a running-related product pitch, as it combines my favorite non-family things: running and TV. But is it really running?

The risk of injury at obstacle courses seems much higher than in a regular road race:
I have never participated in an obstacle course race, but I think it’s pretty obvious that the odds of injury are much higher when you’re slipping and sliding in mud and dashing around obstacles, instead of just running in a straight line. It seems like an obstacle run would be similar to the swim leg of tri – lots of room for freak-outs and panicking.
But on the other hand, these sorts of races appeal to some people for whom regular 5K or 10K races don't. Among the parents of my older son's soccer teammates, there aren't too many who would voluntarily run a 5K or 10K race (even those who do engage in a bit of recreational running), but for whom obstacle races sound fun. I get that; the first 5K I signed up for was a zombie race. If obstacle races get people running, that's great.

The pitch that it was less about running and more about the obstacles, however, was enough to tell me that Rugged Maniac, at least, isn't for me. And when I saw the TV ad for Rugged Maniac during the episode, it further confirmed it for me. Waiting lines for obstacles, huge crowds having to move at a slow jogging pace to get through a confined running lane . . . . no thanks!

(The Bull Run, on the other hand, might be interesting, just for the adrenaline thrill of running from danger.)

No comments:

Post a Comment