You may not recognize Kevin Harrington at first glance. But, if you have ever watched television than there is no doubt you have seen a product he has invested in or helped market.
In fact, those “As Seen On TV” labels? That's his company: TV Goods Inc.
During a meeting of Tampa Bay Innovates, the serial entrepreneur, who is one of the hosts of ABC's Shark Tank, performed a mock rendition of his show, judging several University of Tampa students' ideas for the next big thing.
Though the products pitched did not impress Coffee Talk — a cell phone app that pays tolls at any toll station and cloud software to narrow the pool of potential employees — Harrington was excited with the innovative attitudes of attendees.
And Harrington has dealt with failure. He says an entrepreneur should expect to miss two-thirds of the time.
Harrington says that entrepreneurs drive the economy and should be rewarded for the risks that they take in the same way as small business owners. “All that money that (the Small Business Administration) has got for small business owners,” Harrington asserts. “There should be a program like that for us.”
Harrington thinks if an idea is good enough there will always be a risk-taker willing to shoulder uncertainty, but the government should do more to encourage the activity.
Asked if there was one product pitch he could redo, he responds almost immediately: the Twist-A-Sizer, an exercise machine endorsed by the singer Chubby Checker.
Harrington explains that Checker showed up to the studio larger than Harrington had expected. Jokes Harrington: “The product was all about losing weight, and Chubby was still a bit chubby.”