‘Shark Tank’ contestant gives entrepreneurial advice
Howie Busch presented his product, DudeRobe, on the latest season of ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
Photo Courtesy of Disney ABC Press
“Shark Tank” contestant Howie Busch, founder of a patented invention called DudeRobe, shared his experience and perspective last week with Hofstra students, faculty and community members about entrepreneurship. Busch was invited to speak in the IdeaHub on Wednesday, Feb. 28, by Professor Claudia Cafarelli as part of the Zarb Executive Speaker Series.
Busch, a Roslyn, NY, native, is best known for creating the DudeRobe: a bathrobe styled like a sweatshirt, meant to be more appealing to men than normal robe styles.
The product was presented during an episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank” that aired in mid-January, just about seven months after Busch’s initial DudeRobe Kickstarter launched.
Busch says that it was social media that played a big role in spreading the word about his new product even before his episode aired.
“Facebook is the killer app of pinpoint marketing,” Busch said. “Say I want 25-to-35-year-old guys, who make over $75,000 and live in New York. You can really get as specific as you want.”
Though the invention and production of DudeRobe played an important role in the presentation, Busch also spoke about a lot of other ideas he has had and jobs he has held since graduating from the University of Michigan.
Busch has dabbled in many areas of business. He was once a sports agent, he helped the founder of Under Armour when the company was just starting out and he invented a small hand pillow meant to be used while traveling.
“It was really interesting to see someone who had those experiences and then he shared them with us,” said Margarita Volchkova, a junior international business major. “I was like, oh, someone from ‘Shark Tank,’ someone who’s famous ... I [have to] go and see. I was looking him up and looking at all the products ... I was really interested to meet him.”
Not every idea Busch has patented or licensed has been successful or turned out as expected. He says that he is not a handy person, so most of his ideas need to be produced and manufactured by people with the capability to bring his ideas to life. This means that his ideas sometimes get changed around before they are put on the market.
“He told the business students that what he does for a living was not very difficult,” said Alec Marcus, a sophomore entrepreneurship major and the vice president of finance for Hofstra Start-Ups.
“The key was to execute on the ideas, strive to make valuable connections and use mistakes as learning experiences.”
Busch heavily emphasized the importance of networking and connections, especially through social media. He has used Facebook and LinkedIn before to help make abstract ideas into concrete items that he can then pitch to different companies.
“I’m jealous of you guys, I’ll be honest with you,” Busch said. “You have so many resources available to you. Through the school, through the internet, things like that. I can’t wait to see what you guys end up doing.”