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DinoDon – Life Sized Dinosaurs

DinoDonWhen Shark Tank producers asked if Don Lessem would like DinoDon, his life sized dinosaur business, to appear on Shark Tank, he had one condition. That condition was his wife, Valerie Jones, had to appear with him. Jones is a non profit fundraising professional who’s used to asking for big bucks. She also speak the same language as investors do: money. According to, Mark actually told Don to shut up during the pitch so he could talk to Valerie!

DinoDon the business is unique. They build life-sized replicas of dinosaurs. Some of them are even robotic. “Dino Don” Lessem, as he’s often referred to, leveraged his fascination with dinosaurs into a business empire that includes educational lectures, archaeological digs, consultation on the Jurassic Park movie series, and his budding dinosaur building business. He sells to zoos, museums, amusement parks and anyone else who wants a giant dinosaur on their property.

Even though they were recruited to be on Shark Tank, the couple still wants an investor. They are looking for new ways to expand the business. One way includes providing dinosaurs to a venue, then sharing admission revenue to that particular exhibit. So far, DinoDon has 40 orders for 2021. After appearing on Shark Tank, they may get more. The business projects $15 million in sales based on those orders, so they may not need a Shark unless they plan to grow. Either way, it will have to be a megalodon Shark to take a bite out of this business.

My Take on DinoDon

I always liked dinosaurs. I was fascinated with them as a child. In fact, I wrote a paper in elementary school on dinosaurs that had an interesting theory. I thought legends about dragons were actually accounts of living dinosaurs that intersected with the age of humans. While science hasn’t proved the theory, I’m sticking to it!

As for this business, I guess someone has to make replicas of giant dinosaurs. I am sure I’ve seen Lessem’s creations in some venue. I certainly saw them in the Jurassic Park movies. I’m not the only person who thinks dinosaurs are cool, so I’m sure the business is viable. There’s probably not a lot of competition either. I’m in.

Can a Shark be a Megalodon?

Val and Don told a local reporter they wanted to do a deal with Mark Cuban because of his entertainment industry experience. He’s actually the best Shark for a business like this. I can’t see Lori or Daymond  bidding on this. Robert might bid just because he thinks it’s cool. Mr. Wonderful may bid, although I can’t see a viable royalty deal for this particular business.

Mark is the only Shark who brings something besides cash to the table for this business. With Mark’s entertainment connections, he could open doors that Lessem couldn’t on his own. He’s the only Shark that makes sense, so it’s either Mark or no Shark.

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob and more.

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