Rebecca Romanucci walked away from ABC’s “Shark Tank” with the deal she wanted — but not without some drama first.
The Scottsdale, Arizona, CEO appeared last month on the hit reality TV show with her husband, Army Reserve Col. Eric Romanucci, to pitch Dynosafe, their patented temperature-controlled, remotely operated smart lockbox for secure, contactless deliveries.
For entrepreneurs who want to present their business ideas to potential investors, getting on “Shark Tank” is a highly sought-after prize. But it’s also a high-pressure situation.
There’s the stress that comes with any pitch competition, wondering if the idea you’ve labored over will appeal to investors. Then there’s the high-profile investors. The “Sharks” include incredibly successful people like Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and technology innovator Robert Herjavec.
There’s also, of course, the television cameras.
In her segment, which aired April 2, Romanucci seemed to forget her lines a few times as she delivered her pitch.
It was a made-for-reality-TV moment. But after encouragement from her husband and the Sharks, Romanucci found her footing.
In a recent interview, Romanucci said she wasn’t expecting to freeze on camera. But she credited her quick recovery to the life experience gained as the daughter of a Navy veteran whose service included a posting in Guam.
“It’s an interesting life, and I think all of those experiences contribute to gifts, strengths that we are able to pull out like tools out of the tool belt,” she said.
Her stumble didn’t tank her outcome. Romanucci received two offers from the Sharks. She went with Herjavec’s — $150,000 for a 25% stake in DynoSafe and a majority of the board seats, including one held by Cuban.
Since her “Shark Tank” appearance, DynoSafe is moving forward with its mission — now, with “turbopower,” Romanucci said.
Romanucci initially created DynoSafe with veterans in mind, she said. She saw her husband, who has completed seven combat zone tours and won the Bronze Star, and other veterans struggling with PTSD, a condition that made it challenging to go places like grocery stores.
“In my husband’s case, it was the bright lights, the stuff everywhere … an oversaturation of things, and unexpected noises,” she said.
Romanucci, a registered nurse and experienced entrepreneur, started researching a solution. The result was DynoSafe. In 2017, she secured a patent.
Then, several important pieces came together. First, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods shook up the grocery industry. Last year, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic made the popularity of contactless delivery — of food, medicine and just about everything else — explode.
Romanucci, who plans to bring DynoSafe to the market by the end of 2021, doesn’t see that trend going away any time soon.
“We’ve created new habits,” she said.
So how can aspiring “Shark Tank” entrepreneurs follow in her footsteps?
First, expect competition. DynoSafe was one of 80 companies selected for “Shark Tank,” out of an application pool of 40,000, she said.
Then, be prepared for lots of work and lots of waiting. Romanucci first applied in March 2020.
“Accept that it’s a yearlong process,” she said. “It’s a tremendous number of steps.”
The process included multiple interviews and paperwork. Remember that it’s “50% about the business, 50% about your story,” she said. In other words, the producers are looking for passion.
Romanucci still has that passion, both for her business and for her “Shark Tank” experience.
“Can you imagine standing in a stadium of people, and 80 of you get to do something special?” she said, still marveling at her selection for the show. “It really speaks volumes for our business.”