On Episode 4 of Steve Harvey’s Funderdome, Marlon Rhodeman from St. Louis pitched his product, the Tri Bow Tie. Hosted by Steve Harvey, entrepreneurs pitch in a head-to-head competition to “The Funderdome” (a live studio audience) for the chance to win up to $100K in capital. The pitch that gets the most votes wins the money. Before the winner is announced, both competitors get the chance to “cash out” for a lower sum of money. Brandon Andrews of Values Partnerships sat down with Marlon after the show.
Brandon Andrews: Why are you so passionate about bow ties? What’s the story?
Marlon Rhodeman: In 2008, I worked for a juvenile detention facility in Brooklyn, New York, and a kid asked me if he could wear my bow tie to court because he believed if he did, the judge would let him go. Well, he wore it and the judge did let him go.
Andrews: What does Tri Bow Tie do that regular bow ties do not?
Rhodeman: Tri Bow Tie is the first pre-tied bow tie collection that gives you the quality and character of the self-tie bow tie, yet allows you to fully interchange and customize your bow tie. The bow tie consists of three parts, the center strap, and the left and right wing, all which you can interchange with any other Tri Bow Tie. As little as three bow ties gives you a combination of over 20 unique bow ties.
Andrews: How did you feel pitching your business in the Funderdome? What’s your top tip for entrepreneurs pitching their businesses?
Rhodeman: It felt amazing pitching Tri Bow Tie in the Funderdome. The energy, the opportunity, and the support was amazing. My advice for entrepreneurs pitching their business, is to keep it exciting, short, make it understandable while making sure you see why your product is unique and will be beneficial. Confidence is the key!
(Steve Harvey and Tri Bow Tie creator Marlon Rhodeman. Image: ABC/Lisa Rose)
Andrews: Congrats! You won capital on the show. Were you tempted to cash out?
Rhodeman: I was not tempted to cash out because I believed so much in my product, that I knew I had the audience’s popular vote.
Andrews: Give us a post-show update. How do you plan to grow your business in 2017?
Rhodeman: I plan on building our celebrity endorsement platform, while putting Tri Bow Tie in the public eye through media. People have to know you exist, then you can present your product to them.
(Ehdra Frazier, Steve Harvey, and Tri Bow Tie creator Marlon Rhodeman. Image: ABC/Lisa Rose)
Andrews: You pitched against another amazing black entrepreneur – Dome Essentials CEO Ehdra Frazier. The host of the show–Steve Harvey—is also a black man and a producer of the show. How did it feel to be on stage with Ehdra and Steve? What do you think this moment says about black entrepreneurship?
Rhodeman: It was emotional being on stage with Steve and Ehdra. That platform was a statement to African Americans that through opposition, tribulation, and resilience, you can do anything you put your mind to. Failing happens, but being a failure should never be an option. We as a people have come so far, and I think if we realize the gifts and talents God placed in us, and acted upon them, we could turn our society around.
Brandon Andrews is a senior consultant at Values Partnerships. View his commentary on business and politics at www.brandonandrews.me; Twitter: @brandontalk; Instagram: @yesbrandon; Facebook: facebook.com/mr.brandonandrews;Snap: @brandontalk