Auburn University students pitching product and business concepts in the finals of the first Tiger Cage entrepreneurship competition will have an opportunity to impress one of the original judges from ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
Kevin Harrington, a pioneer of the infomercial industry and founder of the “As Seen on TV” product line, will be in the audience when student entrepreneurs compete for a $10,000 grand prize as part of the Tiger Cage competition sponsored by the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business and the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation.
The entrepreneurship summit, hosted by the Harbert College of Business, includes three components. The day will begin with the finals of the Tiger Cage and continue with the Top Tigers awards luncheon. Presented in partnership with Business Alabama magazine and the accounting firm of Warren Averett, the Top Tigers program recognizes the fastest-growing businesses founded, owned or led by Auburn University alumni. Harrington will serve as the event’s keynote speaker.
The summit will conclude in the evening with the induction of the inaugural class of the Auburn University Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. In addition to recognizing the career achievements of Auburn University alumni who qualify for the hall of fame, Harbert College will also present an Entrepreneur of the Year and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.
“We’re especially excited that Auburn University students will have the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by a proven and highly visible entrepreneur like Kevin Harrington,” said Harbert College of Business Dean and Wells Fargo Professor Bill Hardgrave. “Throughout his career, he’s demonstrated the ability to recognize and capitalize on unique opportunities. We’re hopeful that the Tiger Cage competition will launch similar success stories.”
Fans of ABC’s “Shark Tank” will likely recognize Harrington as one of the investors and judges who grilled aspiring entrepreneurs about their business concepts and product ideas during the show’s first three series, but they may not know how he made his fortune. In 1984, Harrington produced one of television’s first 30-minute infomercials. Those early endeavors represented a paradigm shift in direct response marketing and acquainted TV viewers with such products as Ginsu knives and the Flowbee.
Harrington’s approach helped generate big sales by leveraging big personalities, including the late OxiClean pitch man Billy Mays and pony-tailed fitness guru Tony Little. Since breaking into the infomercial realm, Harrington has helped launch more than 500 products resulting in worldwide sales of more than $4 billion. His book, “Act Now: How I Turn Ideas into Million-Dollar Products,” details his risks and rewards associated with entrepreneurship and his experiences in the direct response TV industry.
As president of National Media Corporation, Harrington guided the company to more than $500 million in annual sales and secured distributions in 100 countries and 20 languages. He also served as CEO of several other entrepreneurial companies, including HSN Direct, a joint venture with the Home Shopping Network, in 1994 and Reliant International Media in 1997.
Harrington’s company, As Seen On TV, acquired the web domain AsSeenonTV.com in 2011 and built it into a popular catalogue of direct response products with more than two million customers and 700,000 e-mail registrants.
Harrington has been willing to share his expertise with others. He established two global networking associations – the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) and the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA). EO has grown to include 113 chapters in 38 countries, while ERA represents a $125 billion electronic retailing industry. With 450 member companies and subsidiaries, the ERA sells directly to consumers through TV, radio, internet and wireless media in more than 100 countries.
To submit a Top Tigers or Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame nomination, or to enter Tiger Cage, visit: http://harbert.auburn.edu/entrepreneurship-summit/index.php