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UCD graduate, partner win $150,000 investment on ‘Shark Tank’

By May 7, 2011

Jason Lucash, a UC Davis graduate and entrepreneur, shows off the portable cityscape speakers made by his company, OrigAudio. Courtesy photo

Jason Lucash got a shark bite.

The UC Davis graduate and his business partner, Mike Szymczak, walked off the “Shark Tank” reality show with a $150,000 investment in OrigAudio, their portable audio device company.

“We’re pretty excited,” Lucash, 27, said in a phone interview Saturday. He said the company’s website, www.origaudio.com, crashed several times due to increased traffic after the show aired Friday night.

On “Shark Tank,” entrepreneurs try to convince a panel of billionaire business tycoons to invest in their products. Lucash and Szymczak beat out 25,000 other competitors for a slot on the show.

They sought a $150,000 investment in their company in exchange for a 15 percent stake.

“Nobody likes to travel with big bulky speakers in their suitcase,” Lucash, who graduated from UCD in 2006, told the potential investors.

The partners wowed the panel with the Rock-It, a portable vibration device that, on the show, turned an oatmeal box, plastic cup and trash can into music speakers. The billionaires also seemed impressed with the recycled Fold N’ Play speakers, which unfold and collapse for easy transport.

And their interest piqued after learning that OrigAudio products had been sold on the shopping channel QVC.

After peppering the partners with numerous questions regarding licensing, sales and profit margins, the “sharks” began thrashing for their share of the pie.

They included “guest shark” Mark Cuban, the billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who urged Lucash and Szymczak to ignore the other sharks and deal only with him.

Cuban gave them a “24-second shot clock” to decide, then bowed out when time expired.

Still, the partners had three investment offers — $300,000 for 100 percent of the company from fashion icon Daymond John, $150,000 from real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran for a 25-percent share, and $150,000 for 15 percent from technology innovator Robert Herjavec.

“I love this story,” Herjavec said on the show. “I’ll invest in you guys.”

After taking several minutes to consider the offers, Lucash and Szymczak went with Herjavec as their investor. But they were prohibited by ABC from revealing the results of the show — which was taped in October — until after it aired.

Lucash said he and his partner plan to use Herjavec’s cash infusion for product development and to expand its distribution operation.

“He’s a very, very smart guy, and we think he can help our business a lot,” Lucash said.

In addition to the “Shark Tank” appearance, OrigAudio got significant exposure last year when their Fold N’ Play speakers were listed among Time magazine’s “Top 50 Best Inventions of 2009.”

“I think ‘Shark Tank’ will be one of the biggest things for us,” Lucash said. “But you never know what’s next from the crazy guys at OrigAudio.”

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or (530) 747-8048. Follow her at www.twitter.com/laurenkeene.

Lauren Keene

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