One of Shark Tank's most controversial entrepreneurs is back pitching a new product, but he's not looking for investors.
Scott Jordan, whose combative behavior on Season 3 of Shark Tank led to a public online feud with Mark Cuban, reached his $30,000 crowdfunding target on Indiegogo Wednesday for a new product called "The World's Best Travel Jacket." Unlike most entrepreneurs who turn to crowdfunding for capital, Jordan is using his campaign to attract customers and promote his company.
"I don't need the money to run my business," Jordan says. "I need the crowds to grow my business." The money raised through the campaign will be used to fund the cost of making the jackets.
Jordan's direct-to-consumer clothing company ScotteVest makes garments like jackets, vests, shirts, pants, and even underwear that conspicuously store mobile devices and other gadgets in pockets. While Jordan didn't win any popularity contests on Shark Tank -- he called one offer "insane" before telling two sharks that they were "out" -- he has succeeded at growing his company from $3 million in annual revenue in 2009 to more than $10 million today.
Jordan founded the company in Ketchum, Idaho, in 2000 and today has 15 employees. Though he came to Shark Tank seeking a $500,000 investment, he says that one of the keys to his success has been keeping ScotteVest a completely self-funded company.
"If I'd gotten an investment, I surely would have been happy to put that money to work, but I didn't desperately need it," he says. "If you can avoid taking outside investors, you're much better off."
Jordan believes promoting direct-to-consumer clothing on sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter could even be the new standard for testing and launching products, both for his company and other businesses.
"My hope was -- and still is -- that this could fundamentally shift the way we produce products," he says. "It's the clothing-on-demand model."
Though ScotteVest experienced consistent growth for the past several years and made the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private U.S. companies in 2011, 2012 and 2013, the business is no longer doubling sales year-over-year. One setback came when Jordan made some "really critical hiring mistakes," including adding a president and three senior executives who oversaw a "horrible implementation" of new business process management software. Jordan says he's also struggled with establishing the right corporate culture and making the transition from entrepreneur to CEO.
While ScotteVest didn't see the bump in sales that most businesses do after appearing on Shark Tank, Jordan says he has no regrets about how he handled his appearance on the show.
"I'm glad I did it," he says, adding that he never knew it would have such a polarizing effect. "Some people think I treated their beloved sharks a little too harshly."