Our CEO, Ben Simon, is about to appear on Steve Harvey’s game show “Funderdome,” where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their products to a live studio audience for the chance to win funding. Before our episode airs this Sunday at 9 p.m. PST we wanted to take you behind the scenes and give you an insider’s look into what it’s like to pitch ugly produce to a studio audience. We sat down with Ben and asked a few burning questions about the experience.
What appealed to you about Funderdome?
It was a perfect intersection of my passions. Growing up, I was always a fan of Steve Harvey, and in college I fell in love with pitching competitions. I’ve competed in 10 or so competitions over the years, each time for higher stakes, and so when I heard about Funderdome it seemed like the next step, kind of like going from the little leagues, to AAA ball, to the Majors. I got in touch with ABC and the rest was history.
How did you prepare for the show?
This won’t surprise anyone, but I spent a lot of time workshopping my 90-second pitch. 90 seconds in front a live studio audience plus 4 or 5 million home viewers is a lot of pressure, so I knew I had to be really polished. I spent a lot of time honing and adapting it to the shorter, more casual TV format. I was used to longer PowerPoint presentations with a lot of business terminology. For Funderdome, I focused on really selling the emotional side of Imperfect and the story of food waste.
What was it like meeting Steve Harvey?
It was awesome and exciting. He’s larger than life in every sense of the phrase. I’m taller than him, but standing next to him out there, he felt taller and bigger than me just because of his fantastic stage presence.
What was the hardest part of being on the show?
My pitch had to be 90 seconds or less, so it was a real challenge to condense our entire business and our value proposition to that time limit. It didn’t help that I was actually really sick the week before Funderdome, and had super clogged sinuses. It felt like I was underwater. As the show got closer, I was really nervous that I wouldn’t be able to hear anyone. Thankfully, the morning of the show, my ears finally popped. It felt like a miracle!
What was one of the most fun parts?
After all of the stress, preparation, and rehearsal, it was really great to just go out and finally get to talk to the audience. I had a blast pitching Imperfect.
What was one of the biggest surprises about being on Funderdome?
Honestly, the energy of the crowd was incredible and almost overwhelming. They were so enthusiastic! You could feel electricity in the air the minute you walked in the dome. I felt a little like Eminem in 8 Mile, minus the moms spaghetti part, thankfully.
What’s your advice to other entrepreneurs who pitch their company in high-pressure situations like Funderdome?
You need to know your pitch forwards and backwards. If it’s a shorter time limit, you better know every second of it and be able to do it in your sleep because there will be distractions like the crowd, the lights, and whatever nerves you have. The excitement and pressure of this being your “big moment” can definitely make it really hard to focus, so working to stay calm is really important. I like to meditate before every pitch to clear my head.
What message do you have for fans of Imperfect who live outside of our current delivery areas? How can they get involved in the fight against food waste?
The number one thing that I want folks to know is that this is a movement that everyone can join. We’re looking for people to sign up in whatever city they live in. While we’re only on the West coast for now, we’re expanding really fast! We’ve already launched in the Bay, LA, and Portland, and are launching in Seattle, San Diego, and Sacramento shortly. We hope to be serving rest of the country soon. So, if you’re reading this, you should check out our social media pages to stay engaged and up-to-date about the work that we’re doing. Also, if you’re passionate about our mission, check out our jobs page. The fact that we’re growing so quickly also means that we’re hiring for talented folks all the time!