What Went Down for the 'Cuse Alums on Shark Tank
Ambron, along with fellow alums Pete Kistler and Evan McGowan-Waston, founded a reputation management company, BrandYourself, in 2009 as students in the entrepreneurship-immersion Student Sandbox program at Syracuse University. BrandYourself is a smart and interesting take on controlling what someone finds when they search your name on the Internet.
The concept for BrandYourself was created when one of the founders had trouble getting an internship. He believed his problem was attributed to the fact that he was being mistakenly identified on Google searches as a drug dealer with the same name. You might not be able to control whether or not a sex offender or ex-conman shares your name. But with BrandYourself, you can control and improve your own search results online. The company’s mission is to give everyone the tools they need to look great online and allow people to understand how to manage their own personal online presence.
Since its start, BrandYourself has won a $200,000 grand prize in the 2011 Syracuse-Area Creative Core Emerging Business Competition. It was honored by the White House as one of the Top 100 Young Startups in the U.S., and now, it’s made it to Shark Tank.
On Friday night, BrandYourself CEO and 2009 SU alum Ambron entered the tank strong and confident. But the amount of money he was asking for — $2 million in exchange for only 13.5 percent of his company — seemed to be his demise.
Ambron's numbers were definitely impressive. Since the site’s launch, they have gotten over 300,000 free users, 5,000 subscribers, and 500 premium “concierge” users. BrandYourself has made over $2 million since March 2012. The sharks themselves admitted he was smart, successful and composed — yet they all admitted his $15 million valuation was absurd.
Without much deliberation, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, Daymond John, and Mark Cuban went out without giving an offer. But Robert Herjavec, a tech mogul himself, decided to make an offer. He was willing to give $2 million — in return for 25 percent of the company. And he wasn’t going to budge.
In the end, Ambron turned down the $2 million, because 25 percent was just too much equity to give up. Although he walked away without a deal, this Syracuse-born start-up is sure to explode.
If you too are being haunted by an online drug dealing alter ego, go to BrandYourself.com to create an account. All SU students and alumni get a free one-year premium membership.