JD Claridge, founder of a startup called ‘xCraft’, and his partner veteran software developer Charles Manning, taught a master class on ABC’s popular reality show Shark Tank before a panel of celebrity investors, raising $1.5 million using an amazing flying iPhone product. Their pitch to the celebrity investors “was a thing of beauty”, says Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt.
The product, called the PhoneDrone, consists of four propellers and a plastic shell to turn an iPhone into a self-navigating drone that can follow you down the street hovering just over your head and shooting video. “I’m just amazed,” says Claridge. “We got more money than what we asked for—three times as much—and we got all five sharks on board.” The show raised xCraft’s valuation to $6 million within 12 minutes, breathing new life into the PhoneDrone’s KickStarter.
The pitch. The highlight is when Claridge pivots from the drone he walked in with—the $1,800 X PlusOne—to the one in his back pocket. Unfolding the propellers and slotting in his iPhone he explains that smartphones today are equipped with most of the expensive components of a drone—gyroscopes, accelerometers, GPS, cameras. That allows xCraft to bring PhoneDrone’s projected retail price down to about $300.
The deal. Manning shows how it’s done, pulling together a Shark Tank syndicate on the fly. Watch for the moment when it dawns on Cuban that the pitch may be too good to be true, and watch Manning move him past that.
Check out the following video clip from the show: