Saturday, February 4, 2012

Kelley senior in shark tank to pull off party with Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban and Nick Tippmann
A plea came over the Kelley School Twitter feed just after noon on Friday:  @KelleySchool Help undgrad @ntippman spread word abt #sharktank viewing party w/ @mcuban & @LarryChiang! Free w/ RSVP 

Kelley student Nick Tippman, the man behind the tweet, had talked earlier to entrepreneur Larry Chiang, who challenged him to put together a "Shark Tank" viewing party that night with "shark investor" and Dallas Mavs owner Mark Cuban (Kelley alum, BS'81), who is in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl.

Tippmann opened a
Plancast page for RSVPs and hit social media pretty hard to get the word out. He bought party supplies, got IU football alum Tandon Doss -- now with the Baltimore Ravens -- to make an appearance, and let the Indy media know what was happening. 

A few hours later, he was sitting next to Cuban at the Westin, watching the reality TV show on a flat screen and sharing his opinions about the contestants and their ideas.

Not bad for a guy who didn't know Chiang or Cuban just nine hours before.

Tippmann, who is from Fort Wayne, Ind., and chose IU for Kelley's
entrepreneurship program, is interested in startups and had seen Chiang's name pop up often on the Internet.

"He writes about hacking parties and how to launch stuff, how to network and how to sell," Tippmann said.

In addition to writing "What They Don't Teach You at Stanford Business School," Chiang is CEO of Duck9, a company created to help students improve their credit scores. He's also a venture capitalist, a serial promoter, a speaker, a blogger, and he teaches tech entrepreneurship to engineering students at Stanford. 

Larry Chiang and Tippmann
He saw that Chiang planned to be in Indy for the Super Bowl, so he got his number off the Internet and took a chance and texted him to see if he could set up a meeting. It didn't go all that well. Chiang could tell Tippmann hadn't read his book, and called him out on that. But three minutes later, he texted and asked Tippmann to call him.

"He asked what I thought about throwing together a party for Mark Cuban. He challenged me to get 20 people together and he would make sure to get Mark Cuban there," Tippmann said. 

"He wanted to know if I was a 'hustler,' in his words, and wanted to know if I could put this together."

Tippmann said he could.

After they hung up, he got this text from Chiang: "I hope you don't suck. :)"

In little over an hour, the Kelley senior had 20 people signed up on Plancast. He'd have 60 by the time the viewing party was to start. Others showed up and the fire marshal had to block the door. Among the guests were Scott Case, CEO of Startup America, and several entrepreneurs Tippmann had networked with at an earlier event.

He didn't know if Chiang even knew Cuban, and it wasn't until he saw an exchange of tweets between Chiang and Cuban in the early afternoon that he was sure the guest of honor would be there. 

@LarryChiang: I've made plans for Shark Tank Watching Party in Indy with Mark Cuban.

@mcuban: Yes you did. I guess I have to go now. Didnt you do this to me before? :) See you tonight #sharktank viewing party !

Tippmann said Cuban was really intent on watching "Shark Tank" and tweeting about it, so they had to get closed captioning on the screen because the crowd was loud. But he posed for photos during commercials and even gave feedback to a few of the students about their entrepreneurial ideas after the show.

Tippmann is taking the semester off to work on his own startup, a mobile coupon service called, which he launched in November. He plans to graduate by the end of the year.

Chiang told him he did a great job and said he was surprised at his ability to "make things happen."

And he sent Tippmann one more text (which we won't spell out in its entirety): "U kick ---"


  1. Great article Jeni! What a crazy night!? Couldn't have gone better though.

  2. I love Shark Tank, it's a great reasource for entrepreneurs! I've had a few business ideas myself but am never sure if they're good enough to "make" it. I recently read a book titled "HOT or NOT: How to Know if Your Business Idea Will Fly or Fail", and it helped me pin point the areas of weakness in my idea so I could work on them before trying to find investors. If any of you other aspiring entrepreneurs out there would like some help, I'd definitely recommend checking this book out!