Entrepreneur, investor and star of ABC’s “Shark Tank” Daymond John is the only African American man that’s been on a major television network for 15 years that didn’t come from music, sports or politics, he said in a Saturday panel at VeeCon 2023.
Here’s how he built his career and continues to build businesses today.
John is best known for being the founder and CEO of FUBU. He said he didn’t introduce anything new to the world but rather figured out how to make people want his products.
When John first got started, he was selling the same shirts and changing the packaging around, he said, adding there was nothing new, and it was just about how to connect with his customers.
Bombas Socks, a sock company that donates a pair of socks to the homeless for each pair sold, is one of the biggest hits in “Shark Tank” history. John said the company is not doing anything new and that it figured out how to connect with their customers better than others.
Taking a step back, John said he got his start on the show shortly after he wrote a book on business. One day, John had about 40 messages on his phone, he said. Thirty-nine of them came from people telling him ways he could spend his money, but one of the messages was from TV producer Mark Burnett, who asked if John wanted to be on a show called “Dragons’ Den,” the European version of “Shark Tank.”
The message was a short pitch about the show, but as soon as John learned that he would have to spend his own money (approximately $1 million to $4 million a year), he hung up the phone, he recalled. “These guys are pimps,” John said to himself.
At the time, John was getting ready to represent the Kardashians, and so he wasn’t really looking for other opportunities, but when one of the sisters found out he had been offered a spot on the show, they fired him, not wanting to get in the way of what they saw as an amazing opportunity for John. The next day Burnett called him back, noting that he had heard John was available. John ended up accepting the gig, which ultimately turned into a role on “Shark Tank.”
Now, the FUBU founder spends his time on the show “teaching the five other morons about business,” he said with a laugh.
“Barbara [Corcoran] doesn’t take her medicine, [Mark] Cuban is a know-it-all, and Robert [Herjavec], I don’t even know what he’s doing — it’s tough, man,” John said jokingly.
The millionaire entrepreneur noted that the world is still small and that there’s a lot of opportunity out there that people should capitalize on. In order to be successful, however, one has to always be working seven days a week and not mess around on the weekends, he said.
John added that those living in the U.S. should wake up each day grateful for the opportunities they have. More than 2 billion people don’t have access to water or electricity, John pointed out, so, no matter how bad it seems, there’s always someone who has it worse, he said.
Produced in association with Benzinga