UCF alum, Klink co-founder appears on 'Elevator Pitch'
Thirty seconds is just enough time to take eight breaths, watch four Vine videos or, for UCF alumnus Craig Bolz to condense two years of dedication into explaining a company he built from the ground up.
About a month ago, Bolz and his partner Jeffrey Nadel, pitched their company, an alcohol delivery service called Klink, to a mystery celebrity investor on the TV show Elevator Pitch. The catch? They only had 30 seconds to do it — about the time you'd spend in an elevator.
Graduating from UCF in 2014 with degrees in finance and political science, Bolz co-founded Klink, formerly known as Drink Drivers, with Nadel, an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania, about two years ago.
A CNBC reporter was on the lookout for cool, disruptive start-ups when she came across Bolz and Nadel.
"This is no doubt a daunting challenge, and you naturally worry that you'll forget something important or fail to answer an on-the-spot question optimally," Nadel said. "But the exercise of distilling the business down to 30 seconds is a very useful one and I think it brings about clarity of thought about your own business that is refreshing. If you can't explain your business to an investor in 30 seconds, you're overcomplicating things."
The celebrity investor was revealed to be "Mr. Wonderful" himself, Kevin O'Leary of Shark Tank.
"I had no idea before I walked into that elevator who I would be pitching to, so as soon as I walked in, it's like you have to quickly process who you're standing in front of and then, without missing a beat, move right into this brief, tightly organized pitch," Nadel said.
Those who have seen an episode of Shark Tank know that Mr. Wonderful will "crush you like the cockroach you are," and he has no problem calling things how he sees them. However, O'Leary responded positively to the pitch.
"I think it has tremendous potential. It is a very niche product that is very usable by many, many people in many cities," O'Leary said in the CNBC segment that aired June 4. "I mean, it is kind of brilliant in the sense that it is so obvious, yet no one thought of it yet."
Nadel said there was definitely a big sense of relief when O'Leary reacted so positively to the pitch.
"It was a sense of validation that's always great to have as a founder, when so much time is spent with a heads-down focus on the company and product," Nadel said. "It's one thing to watch episode after episode of Shark Tank and try to understand what makes 'Mr. Wonderful' tick, but it's entirely different to stand toe-to-toe with him in an elevator."
Klink is meant to liberate people from what Bolz describes as an overwhelming and unfavorable encounter at a liquor store.
"The general experience of going into a liquor store is negative," he said. "You don't know what to select from and there is often a line where you are dealing with a clerk or an employee who really doesn't want to help you."
Bolz encourages students who have ideas to run with them.
"If you don't have an idea, but you would like to be an entrepreneur," he said, "then my advice for you would be to work for free for a start-up and get that experience and then ultimately start up your own."
Cailin Cooney is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.