I Want to Draw a Cat for You from Shark Tank

I Want to Draw a Cat for You shark tank
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I Want to Draw a Cat For You is the brainchild of Steve Gadlin, a web developer from Illinois. In his own words, Gadlin has a normal life and a job that consists mostly of him sitting down and writing code for hours. I Want to Draw a Cat For You is the result of Gadlin’s creativity and desire to break the monotony of his daily routine.

As is evident from its name, I Want to Draw a Cat for You is a business that provides drawings of cat figurines whichever way you want them. Customers can create elaborate scenarios and Gadlin himself will draw the cats in those scenarios and send a custom drawing their way. It is a completely web-based business but the drawings can be printed by the customers to use as cards or gifts.

Unlike many other businesses on Shark Tank, Gadlin’s idea does not look to fill a market gap or provide a solution to a problem. It taps into a different novelty market that consists of people looking for more creative or artistic products that provide a different kind of value to their life.

Despite its unconventional nature, I Want to Draw a Cat For You did find its niche in the market and continues to work till this day. The company, however, did take a few hiatuses as Gadlin took a break and focused on his other projects.  Gadlin did continue to draw cats on request during this break so the business was not entirely shut down. As of 2022, Gadlin has relaunched his business and is now drawing one cat every day. Customers can book a day and place orders then.

Gadlin’s business is one of the most surprising success stories to come out of Shark Tank. It outlines that there is a market for everything if it strikes a chord with people. It also outlines that businesses do not necessarily have to be dry and devoid of creativity.

How Did the Shark Tank Pitch Go?

Steve Gadlin presented his pitch for I Want to Draw a Cat For You in season 3 of Shark Tank. Gadlin ensured that his pitch was as creative and entertaining as the premise of his business.  As he started playing the music to present, the Sharks clearly knew they were in for something fun and unusual.

Gadlin’s pitch was a musical number that succinctly outlined his business model and the investment he was asking for. The catchy repetition of I Want to Draw a Cat For You combined with Steve’s hilarious dance moves made it one of the more memorable pitches seen on Shark Tank.

Gadlin asked the Sharks for an investment of $10,000 in exchange for 25% of his business that he valued at $40,000.

The Sharks were thoroughly entertained and were reduced to laughter on quite a few occasions. They were clearly sold on Gadlin’s infectious personality and even Mark Cuban was dancing along in his seat.

Gadlin was aware that the Sharks might find him entertaining but they won’t necessarily invest in his business if he is not able to convince them properly. He got down to business right after his musical number ended and tried to ease one of the major doubts the Sharks had about his business: the market.

The Sharks were rightfully concerned about who was buying the drawings and whether it is a market that can be expanded. In response, Gadlin said “Well, let me tell you, in today’s economy, there’s a market for stupid, and I am overflowing with it.” This self deprecating pitch would probably have not worked with a conventional business but it fit in right with Gadlin’s personality and his business ethos.

Some of the Sharks were, however, still not convinced. Kevin O’Leary got straight down to the essentials and inquired about the business’s sales. Gadlin revealed that he had sold 1200 drawings and made $9000 in sales last year. He further elaborated that he can make around a 1000 cats in a week and he charges $9.99 for every drawing.

O’Leary pulled out of making an offer because he believes that a business like this depends entirely on the health and availability of the artist.

Robert Herjavec also pulled out of making an offer due to the low profit margins of the business, he did not see any potential in investing capital.

Mark Cuban, however, was clearly interested as Gadlin’s enthusiasm and creativity seemed to have struck a chord with him. He offered $25000 for a third of the business, provided that Gadlin did not deal with any of the Sharks that were left.

This offer clearly surprised Gadlin. Barbara Corcoran and John Daymond both tried to get their words in.  Cuban, however, was adamant on Gadlin only dealing with him and continued to urge him to take his offer.

Gadlin knew it was a deal too good to reject and accepted the offer, provided Cuban drew every thousandth cat for him. They agreed on the deal with a handshake and a combined dance number.

Gadlin and Cuban’s partnership proved to be a lucrative one as the business clearly grew. It is estimated that its net worth is now multiple times than it was when the business originally appeared on Shark Tank.

Our Review of  I Want to Draw a Cat For You

I Want to Draw a Cat For You is a tricky business to judge as its products are entirely virtual and not tangible. Gadlin originally used to draw his cat drawings physically with color pencils and sharpies but has since switched to drawing on a software. This lack of a physical product might restrict the business’s potential but virtual art has seen quite an uptake in consumption and interest since internet accessibility has improved.

While there can be a debate about the sustainability of the business and its virtual nature.  The product that the business provides has its own merits and setbacks just like any other conventional business.

Pros of I Want to Draw a Cat For You:

  • The drawings are completely dependent upon the customers so they can unleash their creativity and come up with elaborate scenarios involving their
  • The drawings can be used as decoration pieces in your house and can be a great conversation starter.
  • The drawings can be a great inside joke among friends.
  • Can be a great gift for people who like cats.
  • People can enjoy seeing their drawings posted on the website.

Cons of I Want to Draw a Cat For you:

  • Lack of physical copy might stop a lot of people from purchasing the drawings.
  • The novelty has now worn off due to the emergence of platforms such as Etsy.
  • Price point is too steep for a virtual drawing.
  • No clarification on whether customers are allowed to change their mind after getting a product.
  • The business production model is entirely dependent on the whims of the creator and now it can only produce one drawing a day.

The products made by I Want to Draw a Cat For You cannot be easily reviewed as they are entirely subjective on the value they provide to a particular customer. Some might be disappointed by their experience but for some a virtual drawing could hold a lot of meaning.

Who Is It For?

Even in the Shark Tank pitch, there was a lot of concern about the market for the product. Due to its unconventional nature, the target audience for the product cannot simply be reduced to a demographic. It can be purchased by people who like cats, people who want to gift something cat related or just creative people with a disposable income.

In Steve Gadlin’s own words, “the market for stupid” is a growing one and any person can partake in it.

Are There Any Alternatives?

As more people get internet access internet, virtual art has seen an exponential growth. There are lots of artists selling their art and entire platforms dedicated to them such as Etsy.  These artists have also collaborated with major corporations and designed campaigns for them.

I Want to Draw a Cat For You was initially a novel idea but there have been several cartoonists and artists that have taken the idea and expanded upon it even further. There are freelancers selling custom drawings and there are cartoonists who have gained internet celebrity status.

One might even say that the market for custom drawings is now saturated and one can find thouands of alternatives to the product online.

Final Thoughts

It is important to keep in mind that I Want to Draw a Cat for You was featured on Shark Tank in 2012. The virtual art industry has not only taken off since then, there are now lots of ways to monetize art that does not necessarily involve sales.

The business was a novel idea for its time and it tapped into a section of consumers that were looking for something different and creative. There’s a reason Mark Cuban got involved and there’s a reason the business is still functional.

There are now many alternatives to the business and seeing its progress it does not actively look to be following an aggressive growth model.

I Want to Draw a Cat For You can quietly go about its business catering to cat ladies and quirky individuals as it has discovered its niche.

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