Long time House staffer Willie Blount will make his television debut on Friday on the ABC show, Shark Tank, where he'll pitch a pair of gloves he's invented to a panel of investors.
Blount is the director of information systems for the House Legislative Counsel and has worked on Capitol Hill for 16 years. Aside from his job, his veteran, inventor and motorcycle rider background got him on the show.
“I wanted to control music while I rode my motorcycle, so I decided it needed to be done with your hands,” Blount told HOH.
The idea came to him in 2009, in 2011 he pitched it to his cousin, Tarik Rodgers, and in 2012, the company launched. Rodgers was personally interested in investing because he is a skier and is now the chief operating officer.
The invention, BearTek Gloves, function as a remote control, which is used by touching your thumb to one of six points, two on each finger. The entity is a technology company that licenses through manufacturers so they can integrate it into their brands.
Blount, 41, served in the Marine Corps as an aviation radar technician for six years before working on the Hill.
“Balancing is very hard,” he said. “Something's got to give when you’ve got a family, a job and a business. So what goes? Sleep.” He is the father of a 14-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl.
Blount was invited to the veteran’s episode of Shark Tank. About 40,000 companies apply to be on Shark Tank and only 130 get interviewed; Blount got the call to be interviewed on the show in September, but was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles at the same time as his sister’s wedding. ABC allowed him to come the morning after the wedding, but he could tell only his wife where he was going.
ABC makes it very clear that just because your interview was filmed, doesn’t mean your segment will air. The station also stresses that even if none of the shark "investors" picks you, your interview can still air. Blount got a call that his interview would air a week and a half ago.
Don't ask how he did. Blount has not even told his wife.
Tune into ABC at 9 p.m. on Friday. BearTek Gloves’ segment is 10 minutes long and 14 minutes into the episode. The company is having a viewing party on Friday at the Columbia, Md., Buffalo Wild Wings, and all are welcome.
Contact Gangitano at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @alexgangitano.