AT LEFT AND RIGHT: Byron local Jeff Phillips presents his sustainable wood eyewear Grown on TV’s Shark Tank. He is seeking a $60,000 investment from the show’s judges for 20% of his business.
AT LEFT AND RIGHT: Byron local Jeff Phillips presents his sustainable wood eyewear Grown on TV’s Shark Tank. He is seeking a $60,000 investment from the show’s judges for 20% of his business. Contributed

Byron entrepreneur risks his dignity in 10's Shark Tank

STANDING before a panel of five multi-millionaire entrepreneurs trying to convince them to invest in your product, at the risk of being rejected if not downright humiliated.

That's what Canadian-born Byron Bay entrepreneur Jeff Phillips signed up for when he appears on Shark Tank, the Channel 10 reality series which gives budding entrepreneurs a shot at the big league.

The show screens on Sunday nights.

The 35-year-old's product is a line of hip bamboo and wooden sunglasses called Grown, pitched at surfers and skaters with the "conscious consumer" front of mind.

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For every Australian pair sold an injured animal is looked after by wildlife carers WIRES, while overseas sales help eyesight charity SEVA to provide eye surgery to the developing world.

Not that the judges care about philanthropy, as Mr Phillips pointed out.

ABOUT THE SHARK TANK

  • Original US Version won an Emmy award.
  • Features five of Australia's most successful business people hunting for the next big idea to turn into a profitable venture.
  • They judge the products pitched by ordinary Australians and then decide whether to invest their own money.

"It's an investment show so they are all really focused on capital gains," he said.

The serial entrepreneur had the benefit of reality show experience, having already appeared on a similar show in Canada called Dragon's Den, in which he pitched his now successful line of winter headwear.

"I kind of felt like I had already been through it, but I guess you can never really prepare for that, the same nerves were there," he said.

"The whole pitch was about an hour and half of me pitching; no water, anything."

"They kind of just drag you around by the arm and then throw you in the corridor with these sharks... then the doors open and there's this massive room with an X on the floor.

"You basically stand there for a minute and stand there awkwardly while they film you."

"It's one minute of sweating profusely."

He said the first minute of the pitch was "make or break".

"People are just staring at you not saying anything, you can hear yourself echo in the room... there are cameras in the room and everybody's looking at you," he said.

"I think I did fairly well... I didn't go too far off track."

While it remains unknown until the show airs on Sunday night whether Mr Phillips managed to "hook" a shark, he backed his own product as a winner.



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