In one of Shark Tank’s recent episodes, we saw an interesting young entrepreneur named Garrett Gee take the stage to pitch his startup Scan, a QR-code-scanning mobile app. Wearing a hoodie and flip-flops, Garrett seemed quite ready to tackle all the tough questions from the Sharks. Although he didn’t secure any investments in the end, he managed to earn praises from a few of them — Robert Herjavec specifically said that he was “brilliant”.
Garrett was asking for $1 million in exchange for 5% equity from the Sharks. The Sharks then drilled him on questions, with Mark Cuban seeming to be the most unimpressed, believing that QR codes are a thing of the past. Another interesting fact that Garrett revealed was that prior to Shark Tank, he had already raised over $8 million in funding — a point that led shark Daymond John to ask “why are you here? Is it for exposure?”. His thoughts might be accurate because after the show aired, Garrett saw his product shoot to top spots in both Apple and Microsoft app stores.
We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Garrett over email. In this interview, he talks about his reasoning for wearing flip-flops all the time, how he raised $8 million for his startup, and the most important lesson he’s from his entrepreneurial experience.
You wore flip-flops to the Shark Tank meeting, which immediately caught Robert Herjavec’s eye. Do you normally do this? Or were you just doing it for fun this time?
I always wear them. I wore them in every investor meeting before Shark Tank including my meetings with Facebook, Google, Menlo Ventures, Lady Gaga, and more. Actually, they were part of a “uniform” I put together while raising money for my company. To me, it was very important for potential investors to see me for who I really am.
Everything Scan has done to date is quite impressive, you guys have over 52 million downloads right now and have raised over $8 million in funding. However, it seems that Mark Cuban in particular was really drilling you hard, do you feel like he was kind of picking on you?
We get reactions similar to Cuban’s very often. I take this as a good thing. If you are doing something unique and worth talking about, then naturally you get a lot of people loving you and a lot of people hating on you. Naturally. The bigger worry would be doing something not even worth talking about.
Since airing, Scan has reached top spots both in the Apple and Microsoft App stores. In regards to going on Shark Tank, what percent was to get exposure and what percent was to get a deal for you?
Maybe 50/50. I really wanted to do a deal with one of the Sharks and felt like a failure as I left the tank “deal-less”. However, we knew the power of the prime time TV exposure and were excited and preparing for it from the beginning.
You seem relatively young, have you ever ran into issues on people taking you seriously because of your perceived age?
Yes. Every day there are people who judge or underestimate me because of my youth. Fortunately, I’ve learned that it’s those same people that usually aren’t worth working with or worrying about in the first place.
What have been the biggest challenges in building Scan so far?
Keeping things simple. It is always tempting to build new products, add new features, work with new partners and try to customize for new industries. However, we keep reminding ourselves every day that it is better to less things great. The simple truth of quality over quantity.
Raising over $8 million in funding is not an easy feat. How did you manage to do it?
First I made it a simple numbers game. The more investors I met with the better my chance of getting a deal. Then I made sure I knew what type of deal I wanted and what type of investor I wanted it from. Then I stuck to my guns. I didn’t put on an act or tell the investors the answers they wanted to hear.. I stayed true to my personality and style. When raising money, you don’t needed every investor to say yes, you need 1.
Many successful entrepreneurs of our time has had mentors they cite as influencers, who would you say were your mentors?
Although they know little to nothing about my company and my industry, my real influencers and mentors have been people like my parents, my wife Jessica, my best friends, my soccer coach, and other people who are there for me day in and day out regardless of what is happening in my business life. At the end of the day, those are the people who really care for me..
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far from your experience being an entrepreneur?
I am not a businessman. I thought I was. Or at least I thought I wanted to be a businessman. However, I’ve learned that, that is a dead-end road spiritually. Business will always be an important part of my life and the means by which I’ll be able to focus on what is really important to me, my family and friends, my health, my spirituality, and my happiness.
Tell us about the exciting things coming to us that we can expect from Scan
Definitely check out Scan to Pay. We’re going to enable people to make and accept payments like never before.