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Dino Don

Dino DonHusband and wife team Dino Don Lessem and Val Jones hope Sharks like dinosaurs when they pitch Dino Don, a robotic, life-sized dinosaur business, in Shark Tank’s season 12 finale, episode 1222. Lessem earned his nickname from a life time obsession with dinosaurs. He’s been on dinosaur digs all over the world, consulted on the Jurassic Park Movies and educated millions about the extinct beasts.

Dino Don the business rents and sells life sized robotic dinosaurs to zoos, museums and aquariums all over the world. He started his business in 1993 with a dinosaur traveling road show that featured several life sized creatures. Next came manufacturing. He did a trip to Zigong, China to make his first models. Now his shop is on the grounds of his home in Medina, PA.

He sold his first life sized dinosaur to the Bronx zoo. To boost sales, he invited 20 zoo directors to visit the exhibit at his own expense. 10 came and 8 ordered dinosaurs. 2020 sales were $5 million. He has 40 orders for 2021 and he projects $15 million in sales. He likely wants a Sharks cash for inventory for the new builds. Do Sharks do business with dinosaurs?

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DinoDon –¬†Life Sized Dinosaurs

Dino Don Shark Tank Recap

Don and Val enter the Shark Tank seeking $500,000 for 10% of their business. Val tells Don’s story about how big he is in the dinosaur world. Val is a fundraiser for non profits. When the dinosaurs onstage start roaring, the Sharks are amazed. They are the biggest supplier of robotic dinosaurs in the USA. He explains that he tours to zoos and museums with his “entourage” and increases traffic from 15%-50%. He does a gate share on the exhibits. Last year (2019) they did $1.6 million. So far in 2020 they are at $1.8 million. Next year they’ll do $3 million.

Kevin says he’ll need to live as long as the dinosaurs to get his money back; he’s out. Daymond doesn’t think he can add value; he’s out. Lori has trouble visualizing the business; she’s out. Mark likes the idea and he offers $500,000 for 25%. Robert says that’s better than he’d offer; he’s out. Don thinks the offer is a bit rich, but they accept.

Dino Don Shark Tank Update

The Shark Tank Blog constantly provides updates and follow-ups about entrepreneurs who have appeared on the Shark Tank TV show. As of July, 2021, the deal with Mark hasn’t closed yet, but it’s only two months since the episode aired. Annual revenue as of this date is $1 million. The deal eventually did close and the business was listed on Mark’s webpage in October, 2021.

In January, 2022, revenue for 2021 was announced: $4 million. In February, 2022, the company will begin its traveling dinosaur roadshow at the Bishop Museum of Science in Bradenton, Florida. The show will feature 50 dinosaurs of varying sizes and it expects to produce $10 million in revenue. Don also filmed a documentary series called The Dinosaur Factory which should air in the fall of 2022.

The business gets an update segment in episode 1323. In the update, they reveal that since Shark Tank, they’ve grown from 150 to over 400 robots. They’ve added ice age animals, huge bugs and even dragons to their “stable.” The company has grown from four employees to twenty five in four countries. They have dinosaurs in Belgium, Germany, England, France and Finland. Annual revenue grew from $1.8 million to $4.2 million after their appearance. They used Mark’s money to create a traveling dinosaur show with 60 dinosaurs. Mark says this company will be doing $10 million in a year or two. Don says his inspiration is the awe on children’s faces when they see his shows and exhibits.

Mark Cuban told Drew Barrymore in March of 2022 that he was thinking of turning Mustang, TX, a town he bought in December, 2021, into a Jurassic Park type exhibit/attraction with the Dino Don dinosaurs. If they do this, they’d change the name to Dinosaur, Texas. Sadly, in August, 2022, Mark told a local TV station in Houston that “it’s not going to happen.”