Of all the entrpreneurs to be featured this week on The Shark Tank, Technology Enabled Clothing probably has the largest amount of pre-show hype and controversy. Before I go into that, let's see exactly what TEC (short fot Technology Enabled Clothing) is all about.
This is a clothing line of Personal Area Network jackets that are designed to hold an i-pad, i-phone and other portable technology in specially designed pockets within the jacket that allow for easy access. You an even use the touch pad on your i-pad right through the clear pocket lining. Cables for ear phones can also be run through special channels inside the jacket lining, eliminating annoying and potentially dangerous loose cables. There is also ample pocket space for more traditional pocket contents such as keys. The jackets come in a variety of styles from a sport coat to vests to a variety of seasonal outerwear with a sporty flair.
The clothing is quality stuff. I know several people who wear these jackets and they love them. They are the perfect match of form and function for the mobile electronic age. The company has licensing deals with many manufacturers and has broad retail distribution channels. I am not sure why they want to partner with the sharks-unless it is an unabashed PR stunt. The company is sound, profitable and has legions of loyal followers. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was an early evangelist for the clothing line and currently sits on their Board of Directors. This is where this week's controversy comes into play.
Apparently, at some point in the pitch, company founder Scott Jordan calls Wozniak for advice! I didn't know the “phone a friend” option was available on the Shark Tank. I can't imagine that stunt going over well with the sharks. They are probably left wondering why Wozniak doesn't fund the company (a question I would like answered too). After all, I believe Steve Wozniak, is a billionaire, although he couldn't tell you what he's worth himself. The exchange between Jordan and the Sharks is described as “heated,” so we will surely see sparks fly on Friday night.
Given the pre-show hype and the Woz factor, I don't think the Sharks make a deal on this one.