Jarrett & Raja Productions Before Shark Tank
Throughout the history of Shark Tank, there have been an incredible variety of business proposals for the Sharks to consider. Whether an entrepreneur is offering a product or a service they are usually able to bring some relevant experience into the negotiations, but when Jarrett & Raja entered the tank, in April 2016, the Sharks were impressed by a truly unique business, and perhaps more unusually, they were filled with a touch of wonder along the way.
Jarrett Parker was a magician who had studied under Harry Blackstone Jr, and Raja Rahman was a pianist who had graduated from the Juilliard School of music. The pair had met through some mutual friends when Raja was still a student at Juillard, and one Christmas Jarrett found himself in need of a musician to help him with a show. He was booked into New York City’s Friar’s Club for a one-off holiday season show but the club didn’t have a sound system, instead it only had a piano. Knowing that Raja, as a student of Julliard, was likely to be a competent musician, Jarrett had recruited him to assist with that single performance.
The gig at the Friar’s club had gone down a storm with the crowd, with the pair eventually receiving a standing ovation. Jarrett and Raja were pleased at the reaction, although surprised that their one-off partnership had been such a hit, and from 2001 they began working together more regularly, performing at several more New York City Venues to see if they met with similar acclaim. The reception to their new partnership was positive and encouraging after every performance and, after Raja had graduated from Julliard, they eventually began working together permanently on their new Magician/pianist double act.
Eventually, in 2012, the duo received the opportunity to appear on season seven of ‘America’s Got Talent’, where they managed to survive for four rounds, until they were eventually knocked out in the quarter-finals. More TV appearances followed but Raja and Jarrett had big plans for their partnership, and next turned to an entirely different form of reality TV show to further their careers, and not long after they made their début performance in the Shark Tank.
Jarrett & Raja Productions On Shark Tank
When Jarrett and Raja entered the Shark Tank they announced that they were hoping to gain an investment of $750,000 in exchange for 40% of their business. They told the Sharks that they needed the investment to produce a new musical & magical ‘spectacle’ called ‘Miracles’ that they wanted to take to the Las Vegas strip.
The Jarrett and Raja Productions business was an unusual proposition for the Sharks, and a standard pitch would never be able to demonstrate exactly what the business was about, so Jarrett and Raja had a treat in store for the Sharks, a small sample of the wonders of the ‘Miracles’ Stage show.
Robert Herjavec remarked ‘Oooo’, sounding as excited as a wonder struck child for a moment as the Shark Tank temporarily became a magic show. Jarrett and Raja had brought along an assistant, who promptly was put behind a screen with much flourishing. Raja took a seat behind the Aquarium piano that had come into the tank with them while Jarrett suddenly set light to the screen, which promptly went up in flames.
Jarrett ripped away the remains of the screen to reveal that the assistant had miraculously disappeared, and at that moment Jarrett suddenly directed the Sharks attention to the aquarium piano, where the assistant suddenly reappeared, completely unharmed. Filming for Shark Tank must be a lengthy and serious process sometimes, and the Sharks definitely seemed to appreciate the magical offerings of Jarrett and Raja, they broke into a spontaneous round of applause. Robert told the pair that if they could do the trick with Barbara Corcoran he would give them the $750,000 now, but beyond the joking Robert was seriously impressed, as were the other sharks.
Jarrett handed out some promotional materials for the stage show and Robert asked if the show had a permanent venue at the moment. Raja explained that Las Vegas venues no longer employed acts, instead they would act as a landlord, and basically rent out a venue to an act, who would then be fully responsible for producing, marketing and promoting the show.
Kevin O’Leary remarked that if the show ‘Sucked’, then the risk would be that an investor would lose their money. Robert replied that costs could also spiral out of control too, eating profits at a rapid rate, even if the show got a full house every night.
Raja admitted that costs needed to be carefully watched, and was about to expand further on the details of the costs involved, but Barbara Corcoran interrupted him to inquire if the pair already had a venue set up in Vegas. Raja revealed that they were already in discussions with a hotel owner on the strip about a permanent show, but in order to secure the deal, they would need to come in fully-funded, which was where the necessity for a Shark investor came in.
Kevin O’Leary had enjoyed the illusion, but it would take more than simple misdirection for Mr Wonderful to lose sight of the real picture, he asked Jarrett what capacity the venue had, and what the retail price of tickets was likely to be. Jarrett disclosed that the venue could seat 1,600, and ticket prices would be in the region of $59.99. ‘How many shows will you do a day?’ asked Kevin, and Raja told him they had planned for one, but they could do more if the venue was agreeable.
Mark Cuban pointed out that there was only a limited audience available in Vegas at any one time, and saturating the market with numerous shows a day was no guarantee that profits would increase, and Kevin understood, this was not a conventional product or service that would be available to millions, instead the potential customer base was severely limited to the geographical location of Las Vegas.
Lori Grenier asked how many other magic acts performed in Las Vegas at the present time. Jarrett revealed that at the moment there were eleven other magic based acts performing in the city. Robert Herjavec made the observation that in the last year, the average age of visitors to Vegas had gone down. Nightclubs were a bigger draw than magic shows for this younger demographic and big expense stage shows were no longer drawing in people like they had in the past.
Mark replied that it was because of this shift that Venues were no longer sure that seats would be filled, no matter how good a show was, and that was the reason the venues were now rented out to performers, rather than a location taking on the risk of a show themselves. He asked Jarrett and Raja how they planned to make their show stand out from all the competition in Vegas. Raja explained that they planned to promote the unique nature of their magical and musical partnership, and promote the show via billboards and other traditional marketing techniques. Mark didn’t sound too impressed, ‘That’s expensive’ he replied.
Robert Herjavec still wanted to know what made Jarrett and Raja so unique, what made them stand out from all of the competition in Vegas. Jarrett once again emphasized the unusual and unique partnership of a magician and a classically trained concert pianist, and Raja revealed that the pair wanted to become the ‘Next Seigfried and Roy’, it was their dream and their vision for the future, although mentioning Seigfried and Roy to the Sharks may not have been the best idea, considering the history of that famous magic act and wild animals.
All the Sharks understood the importance of having a dream, and having the ambition to make that dream succeed, but Robert asked how many acts actually managed to succeed in the whirlwind of entertainment that came to Vegas every year, he speculated that only a small percentage of acts ever actually achieved any real success.
Mark Cuban was also filled with doubts about the likely success of Jarrett and Raja Productions. He told the pair that they had a great show, but with his experience of having produced several movies, he knew that it was hard to translate an audience on TV into tickets sold for a stage show. He saw the road ahead for the pair as ‘Difficult’, and with that Mark became the first Shark to drop out of the negotiations.
Barbara Corcoran was also unwilling to take a risk on the pair, she saw an investment in the show as a ‘wild bet’ on whether the show would succeed or not, basically the same as a ‘Craps shoot’, and she wasn’t in the mood to gamble. Barbara followed Mark in dropping out.
Robert Herjavec still believed that there was too much competition in Vegas for any new show to stand out, Raja attempted to persuade him that their show was unique, but Robert wasn’t convinced. He had admired the performance and he wished Jarrett and Raja good luck for the future, but he believed it was ‘virtually impossible’ for them to succeed with their present strategy, and with that Robert was out too.
Kevin O’Leary wasted little time in following the other sharks out of the discussion. He told Jarrett and Raja that he only looked at the risk against the return, and he found the whole proposal too risky, and with that Kevin quickly dropped out too.
With only Lori Grenier remaining, Jarrett and Raja needed a real miracle in order to secure a deal now, but instead of making an offer Lori had some observations to make. She told the entertainers that she believed promoting a show in Vegas, where there was so much competition was a poor strategy, instead she believed the pair should take their show to another big city, such as New York or Chicago, places that had a wealth of hotels, but nowhere near as much entertainment on offer. Lori told the pair that she loved what they were doing, but she believed they were focusing on the wrong market, and for that reason she was out too.
Without a deal secured, the sharks wished Jarrett and Raja good luck for the future, and with that the magical duo performed one last trick, and made themselves disappear from the tank.
Jarrett & Raja Productions Now in 2017 – The After Shark Tank Update
Immediately after filming, the entertaining duo were philosophical about the reaction of the sharks, Raja admitted that entertainment was a risky business, and he understood that the Sharks had believed the risks far outweighed the potential advantages.
Raja and Jarrett may have failed to secure a Shark investor from their appearance in the Tank, but the pair continue to bring magic and entertainment to audiences in Vegas, even if they have not yet secured that permanent venue to call their own.
The pair have also embarked on a more charitable ambition since their Shark Tank appearance, and now host a monthly show in Las Vegas called ‘Finding Magic’ in co-operation with different charitable organizations. They perform for small groups of at-risk children and afterwards host an interactive workshop to pass on their love of magic to the younger generation.
And despite the calm presentation of that impressive magic trick in the Shark Tank, Jarrett has revealed that the whole illusion almost went terribly wrong. Just before they were due to perform the trick for the Sharks, their custom-made Aquarium piano sprung a leak, and began leaking water onto electrical equipment, but fortunately they were able to draw on their long experience of live performances and salvage the performance without actually electrocuting themselves.
As for the future of the Jarrett and Raja show, the pair have several other TV appearances and projects in the pipeline, although like all good magicians, they’re keeping things tightly under wraps for the moment.