After weeks of preparation, fisherman Vance Zahorski nabbed himself a shark.
The Hudson, Wis., native made a well-polished pitch on last week’s episode of “Shark Tank,” selling his brainchild to a cast of skeptical celebrity entrepreneurs.
His company, Line Cutterz, specializes in adjustable rings with a double-sided blade to cut fishing line with ease. Zahorski said he was inspired to create a prototype ring after an incident in Florida, when he stepped on his knife while rushing to reach for his tackle box. He knew there had to be a better way.
“I’ve even chipped my tooth biting line the old school way — twice,” Zahorski said during his televised pitch. “I thought: Why not put a cutter on your finger?”
Using his ring, Zahorski sliced through even the toughest braided nylon fishing line like butter during the live demo, leaving the judges’ mouths agape.
He entered the infamous “Shark Tank” seeking a $120,000 return for 20 percent of his company, but gave up 33 percent to seal the deal. While other Sharks showed interest in the company, Daymond John, the multimillionaire behind FUBU, was the only one to make a formal offer after seeing the device, marketed as the “ultimate fishing essential” on the company’s website.
“It’s your one shot,” said Zahorski, a die-hard fan of the ABC show who idolizes its eccentric judges. “The pressure is so intense that it’s hard to formulate thoughts in your head.”
Since the episode aired last Friday, Zahorski said he’s seen an uptick in business. One order has been placed every minute, on average, and strangers are contacting him from all over the world about the product.
“Business has been unbelievable. The ‘Shark Tank’ effect is real,” said Zahorski, who has enlisted high school friends to help fill orders. “It’s all hands on deck, packaging as fast as possible.”
Within days of his debut, he sold out of other Line Cutterz merchandise, including fishing rods and about 1,000 carbon fiber rings — the model he gave to Daymond on the show. E-mails have also flooded his inbox with requests for the Swarovski crystal-bedazzled ring he gave judge Lori Greiner, queen of QVC.
The exposure is a huge victory for the start-up that Zahorski founded on a whim in 2013.
He quit his six-figure salary sales job at an appliance company in Arizona, sold his prized fishing boat and the dream home he helped build with his bare hands, then moved back to his hometown in western Wisconsin with his wife and two young daughters.
A prototype made of welding putty and a dental floss cutter would explode into a booming business. Less than two years after launching, the rings now sell in hundreds of independent bait and tackle shops in eight different countries.
When Zahorski realized the rings also cut thread and yarn, the products were stocked in quilting stores. It retails for $12.
There will be even more to be thankful for this year.
“I’d been telling my wife and family that I was going to be on ‘Shark Tank’ for three years because I was such a big fan,” Zahorski said. “It’s a dream come true.”