Splikity Before Shark Tank
The technological revolution of the last few decades has changed our lives beyond all recognition. There is no aspect of our lives that remains untouched by the benefits of technology, but of course, there are new problems that come with our increased use of technology too.
Having to remember a huge number of passwords for a variety of websites and applications is a problem that affects us all. They always have to be different for every site, and in order to keep our online transactions and communications secure. they have to be too complex for us to remember easily, so what’s the solution?
The founders of Splikity, brothers Chad and Doug Clark were the victims of a harmless prank in 2013, when their friends hacked their eBay account and began making bids on a variety of undesirable items. The prank didn’t cause any lasting damage, but it made the Clark brothers think more seriously about their own online security. They had been fortunate this time that the attack was merely a prank rather than malicious, but next time they might not be so lucky.
The brothers developed Splikity to overcome the password problem for once and for all. They designed a software application that could be used to safely deliver passwords to websites, without having to save any of the details onto a device or browser, therefore making the whole system safer from attacks by hackers. The software used military-grade encryption and worked across all websites to allow the user to never have to type in, or remember, a password again.
In 2015 Splikity launched, sales were modest but reasonable in the first few months, but then Chad saw an open-casting call for shark tank applicants. The brothers knew that in order to grow their brand of security software in the crowded and competitive sector would require an injection of funding, and the help of a business mogul could propel them to early success. They were accepted to appear on the show and eventually got the chance to pitch to the sharks in October 2015.
Splikity On Shark Tank
When Chad and Doug entered the tank they dressed to impress, in matching black-tie outfits. ‘Dressed for Cocktails’ Barbara Corcoran remarked as they walked in, but this party wasn’t going to be too much fun for the Splikity entrepreneurs.
The pair introduced themselves, and Chad began the pitch by running through a situation that’s familiar to us all. The inconvenience and trouble that a forgotten password led to. Doug took over and explained that it needn’t be a problem any more, with Splikity. He told the sharks that Splikity was software that would store all of a users passwords for them, securely and safely, and it would work on all sites. It worked on all of a customers devices, and it would synchronize those devices so that Splikity worked anywhere, on any device. The pitch ended with Chad asking the sharks which of them was willing to ‘Attack the password problem, and join Splikity’.
Kevin O’Leary is possibly a man who forgets a password once in a while, but he couldn’t fail to notice that the Clark brothers had forgotten something themselves, ‘You’ve forgotten to ask for any money’, he observed.
A momentary look of shock appeared on the brothers faces, but Chad was quick to recover, ‘We’re getting to that’, he explained, ‘We’re looking for $200,000 in exchange for 10% equity in the company’.
Mark Cuban inquired who had come up with the design for Splikity. Doug told him it had been him just him and Chad alone. Mark Cuban quickly asked what their security background was.
Doug looked momentarily lost, and admitted, slightly hesitantly, that the brothers didn’t have a technology background. Mark Cuban, who along with Robert Herjavec, has the most technology experience amongst the sharks, had heard enough. ‘I’m out’ he announced, and Doug looked shocked at the news.
‘That’s negative’ Kevin O’Leary suddenly remarked to Mark Cuban, seemingly enjoying the sudden tension in the tank. Mark was quick to point out that security was not an easy subject. Doug countered that people could learn the secrets of the industry, but Mark was far from convinced. He asserted that there were hackers seeing Splikity for the first time, and they would love it. Doug attempted some damage control, but Mark’s objections were clearly very seriously made, and his negativity was influencing the other sharks.
Kevin pointed out that the sharks had an expert in the security field, in particular Robert Herjavec, who sold security systems to giant companies. Kevin advised the brothers to be extremely careful, as they were ‘About to get fried’. Lori Greiner felt that Kevin was perhaps being overly harsh towards Doug and Chad, she told Kevin to ‘Give them a chance’.
Mark Cuban mentioned his involvement with ‘Cyberdust’, an application he had invested in that was constantly involved with security issues. Doug attempted to address Mark’s comment, but he didn’t get very far before Robert Herjavec finally joined the conversation. Robert told the brothers that the security industry didn’t work the way they thought it did. The problem of passwords had been around for many years, and it wasn’t a ‘Flighty’ subject, the rest was left unsaid, but Robert’s implication was clearly that he believed Splikity was a very flighty solution.
Once again Doug attempted to explain the unique benefits of Splikity. He and Mark Cuban discussed the technical considerations of the software, but Mark remained hugely unimpressed. Doug insisted the product was unique, but to Mark there was nothing special about it, it was simply ‘The industry standard’ as far as he was concerned. Robert Herjavec was equally unimpressed, and things were looking bad for the Splikity entrepreneurs.
Lori Greiner suddenly announced that the male sharks were not looking at the situation from a female perspective of technology. That was news to Robert Herjavec, ‘There’s a female perspective of technology?’ he asked, sounding genuinely surprised.
Lori insisted that her years of experience in retail, had taught her that women would respond differently to a product than men. She told Robert that she wanted to hear more about the product without the brothers being distracted by Robert and Mark objecting. Barbara agreed that she too was interested in hearing more about the product, but Robert found the whole thing ridiculous, he told Lori than technology wasn’t a gender specific issue, and the tension in the tank ramped up another notch.
The brothers took turns trying to explain how their product had been specifically designed for the non-technological customers out there, rather than experienced operators like the sharks, but once again Robert Herjavec jumped in, trying to pin the brothers down on exactly what is was that made their product unique. Eventually after even more probing from Robert and Mark, Doug admitted that Splikity wasn’t actually unique, but it was the simplest password protection software available.
Eventually Robert Herjavec had heard enough. He told Doug and Chad that although their idea was fundamentally sound, the actual functionality of the product was full of potential problems, largely due to the inexperience of the brothers in the technology industry. Robert believed the project was ultimately doomed to fail, and he was out.
Barbara Corcoran was not technology minded, and she was happy to admit it. She told the brothers that she didn’t understand what made Splikity so special, and because she didn’t understand it she would be highly unlikely to ever make any money from it, and with that Barbara was out. Lori Greiner quickly dropped out too, for similar reasons, telling Doug and Chad that what she didn’t understand quickly, wouldn’t be understood quickly by customers either. Although she believed Splikity could help lots of people, she didn’t have any interest in investing, and Lori was out too.
With just Kevin O’Leary left, things were looking dire for the Splikity brothers, but Kevin had a last-minute offer for them. He told Doug that he was a ‘Huge’ brand, and he believed he could help the company grow, but with the amount of value he would bring to the business, it was going to cost a lot. Kevin offered to make the $200,000 investment, but in the form of venture debt. Kevin would lend the money to the business, and receive 10% of the profits until $600,000 had been repaid. From that point on he would take 5% equity in the business because ‘I’m Mr Wonderful’.
The brothers clearly didn’t find their only offer too attractive, and after several long moments, while they were still fending off objections from Mark Cuban, they thanked Kevin, but refused his offer. The pair left the tank without a deal being made.
Splikity Now in 2018 – The After Shark Tank Update
After the show, Chad and Doug were disappointed that they were not given more time to explain the benefits of Splikity to the sharks, and expressed their belief that the sharks had missed out on the huge potential of the product. But almost a year after the segment first aired, the pair don’t seem to be pushing their own product as much as they believe it deserves.
The social media pages of Splikity have been virtually untouched since the show, apart from the odd news item concerning internet security, such as the time in June 2016 when Mark Zuckerburg reportedly had his Facebook account hacked. The brothers appear to be unwilling to follow the old adage of ‘Any publicity is good publicity’, and instead seem to be happy to forget the shark tank appearance ever took place.
There can be no doubt that the main function of Splikity does appeal to a wide range of people, Chad has spoken about the main target demographic of the application being older people using the internet, and as a forty-something with a typically forty-something memory I can see its appeal instantly, but like the sharks, I doubt the Clark brothers claim that Splikity is the best option available.
Although the subscription charge for using the service remains a relatively inexpensive $4.99 per month, the service I use which essentially performs exactly the same service as Splikity, is completely free, and a quick Google search for similar products quickly reveals that there are a number of other free options out there, many of which have been lauded for their strong encryption abilities, but of Splikity there is hardly a mention.
Some tech company insiders have criticized Splikity, suggesting that the application itself could be hacked, and therefore customers passwords would all become compromised in one go, although Doug insists that those critics have missed the point, and reiterates that customers passwords are not susceptible to an attack.
Whatever the technical strengths and weaknesses of Splikity are, when compared to competing applications, the vast majority of Shark Tank viewers were quick to note that the two sharks with the most experience in technology businesses, Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec, had the most negative attitude towards the application.
The slickly designed Splikity website is still up and running, and is full of positive testimonials from satisfied customers, who are quick to extol the virtues of the product. But outside the warm embrace of the company website, there is little mention of the business in such glowing terms.