Classroom Jams before Shark Tank
Classroom Jams was founded by Mark Furigay as a solution to reading problems students face. As a teacher, Mark knew tough literature topics like Shakespeare was challenging for students and came up with the solution after a student told him they wanted something they could relate to.
Mark thought of a unique way to answer this request: with music. Before entering the tank, he started using songs he wrote as a common teaching tool stated that it had worked better than any other teaching tool he tried. Mark had written many songs and wanted to create an educational record label and publishing house, but had not actually started a business and hence had no sales before going in. He went to the tank hoping to create a company and solve the problem that was presented to him.
Classroom James on Shark Tank
Mark entered the tank seeing $250,000 for 10% of the company. Mark explained how students have difficulty with literature topics such as Shakespeare and how he came up with a solution in music. Mark began playing one of the songs in his album and this impressed all the sharks. Kevin O’Leary quickly brought up his famous question on how he could make money from the idea. Mark addressed this by stating they would sell the albums to campuses worldwide and the deal to the sharks would include the record label and the publishing house. However, Mark was not offering them the rights to the song which upset all the sharks. They put this issue aside for a bit as Mark dove into the business side stating the set included 30 CDs which would be sold for $499 directly to the schools. Mark also mentioned that he wanted to expand the business into different subjects such as history and science. Kevin O’Leary asked Mark to step out, something the sharks rarely do.
Kevin O’Leary told the other sharks that he did not want to compete with them and wanted everyone to offer a total of $250,000 and a 5% royalty for 100% of the company which would include the rights to the songs. Robert assumed Mark would not take the deal so was hesitant, but the sharks still called Mark back in and offered him the deal. Mark thought for a moment, but addressed that he wanted to build a company. Daymond brought up how this deal would relieve Mark of common difficulties in running a business such as marketing so Mark could stick to what he was good at which is writing songs.
Mark stated he wanted to maintain equity in the company and that he wanted to be a member of the business. Despite persuasion from Kevin O’Leary and Daymond, Robert saw Mark was not budging so Robert alone made Mark a new offer of $250,000 for 100% of the company with the option to buy back 49%. Mark then wanted to counter Robert, but Kevin O’Leary interrupted him stating the original deal might go away. Robert saw that Mark was going back to the original deal as Mark mentioned he wanted six people in the business and this led Robert to making yet another offer of $250,000 for 51% so Mark would not have to buy back 49%. This led to an argument between Robert and Kevin O’Leary as Kevin mentioned Robert was screwing over his business partners, but Robert stated he could see that Mark was not taking the offer.
Despite Robert’s hunch, Mark once again mentioned he was interested in having five business partners so he denied Robert’s offer. Kevin O’Leary re-explained the original offer and Kevin Harrington added that once the sharks got their money back, Mark could buy back equity that would equalize the stake of all six. Mark countered this new offer with an 8% royalty instead of 5%, but the sharks refused. After much negotiation, Mark decided to take this new offer from all five sharks. After Mark left, Robert was happy that Mark took this offer instead of his separate offer and all the sharks felt they got a great deal.
Classroom Jams after Shark Tank – Update
After the deal, Kevin O’Leary got Mark a meeting with Houghton Mifflin Company, the largest education firm on earth. Mark pitched Classroom James to the company and everyone who was watching was impressed. The executives of Houghton Mifflin Company mentioned that they would give Mark a national test which made Kevin very happy.
Despite this meeting, Classroom Jams never appears to have taken off. Mark still has a website, but his album is not sold their. Classroom Jams had no social media presence as well so there is no guarantee that the Shark Tank deal even closed as it is unlikely the Sharks would let the company degenerate so easily because they would have been majority owners. Mark is now director of education at Street-Level Youth Media so he is involved in something he has a passion for.
The offer Mark originally took on the show is a common example from season one with the sharks wanting control of the companies. This was likely because there was more risk involved since there was no proven track record of previous deals being successful and could also be a reason the deal did not close. This would change in later seasons as more businesses came in with sales and intellectual property. The sharks knew that this along with the publicity from the show would make the deals less risky. Classroom Jams, like many deals from season one, could have gotten a better deal on the show if Mark had a proven track record in sales which could have led to a successful company. Despite this, future entrepreneurs have learned from mistakes from season one pitches such as Classroom Jams and it has led to many deals that are successful for both sides.
Did they succeed or fail? Can I buy this product?
Classroom Jams appears to have not taken off after the show. The albums are currently unpurchaseable and it seems Classroom Jams has never had any sales.
couple of grammatical errors:
second section the headline is supposed to be Classroom Jams .. not James.
Update (last section) The 2nd sentence under the photo:
supposed to sold there = place
not ‘their’ which shows ownership
I looked up this article b/c I know a few ppl who’d be willing to purchase this for their classrooms. Plus if it had a new name I was going to share b/c I think it is a great idea!!
Kids need to relate so they can retain their studies.
I wished I had something of this nature way back when … just sayin’
I would have been a smarter person.
How on earth did they imagine this taking off? It’s a Niche on top of a Niche. You cannot force children to love Shakespear. You just can’t. And to think that schools would spend part of their budget on a $500 package of shakespear cds. This whole episode feels like a bad joke. Like a piece of a satire. It feels unreal.