Two friends who met at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School pitched their translation app, VerbalizeIt, on Shark Tank. Ryan Frankel and Kunal Sarda promoted their company as “the world’s only instant, 24-7 ‘human-powered’ translation service.” Armed with a network of thousands of freelance translators around the world, they charge $1.75 a minute for phone calls, $0.17 per word for documents, and $15.50 per minute via audio/video.
On Shark Tank, Mark Cuban made them an offer ($250k for 25 percent) but they took a deal from Kevin O’Leary instead ($250k for 20 percent). Within three days of the show airing, 20,000 new customers downloaded the app. But before the show even aired, Frankel and Sarda called O’Leary to tell him they were going with other investors. The founders of VerbalizeIt are thought to have come on the show without the real intention of closing a deal, but for the national TV exposure. Smart business move, really. O’Leary would certainly do the same.