LIVING ON THE EDGE
Southwestern grad hopes his unique brownie pan impresses TV show entrepreneurs
Friday, May 16, 2014 11:00 AM
A Southwestern graduate will be treading uncharted waters when his business pitch on ABC's "Shark Tank" is broadcast to millions of primetime viewers.
Matt Griffin and his wife, Emily, are contestants on the “Shark Tank” television show. They hope their Edge Brownie Pan wins the top prize in the competition. (Submitted photos)
Matt Griffin, creator of the Edge Brownie Pan - a pan designed to make every cut an edge piece - will be one of the presenters on the "Shark Tank" Season 5 finale tonight.
The show allows developing businesses to present their products to industry "sharks," who are self-made millionaires and billionaires looking to invest in the best ideas and businesses. The entrepreneurs request an investment amount and offer a certain percentage of equity stake in their company.
Griffin and his wife, Emily, a chef who handles product testing for their Carmel, Ind., company Baker's Edge, spent four days in Los Angeles last September. They've kept the outcome of their appearance a secret since then and did not know they were in the finale until just two weeks ago.
"It is every bit as real and intense as it seems," Matt Griffin said.
While Griffin said their pitch was fine-tuned well in advance, it took a few minutes to acclimate to the stage once they stood in front of the panel.
"As confident and well-rehearsed as we think we are, when those doors are open, all bets are off," he said.
While Griffin remains "hush-hush" until the episode airs, he said even getting on the show has been incredibly positive for his family and their company.
It started with an email to producers. After the first stage, business are contacted by a team of producers, who then conduct numerous rigorous interviews.
By the time Baker's Edge received the invite last fall, the show had turned down thousands of entries and approved just a little more than 100 ideas, all of which will not even make the air.
The actual sharks include Real Estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, "Queen of QVC" Lori Greiner, technology innovator Robert Herjavec, fashion and branding expert Daymond John, venture capitalist Kevin O'Leary and NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
"When we were there pitching, I found them all equally kind and personable but also intense," Griffin said.
The entire pitch took more than an hour, only a portion of which will be aired. And even though camera and production crews were everywhere, Griffin said it's very much about the potential business transaction.
"Essentially you're pitching to investors and the TV crew is all secondary," he said.
Griffin grew up in Lexington and graduated from Southwestern in 1993. He went to Ball State University and studied economics and urban planning. He worked as a city planner for city of Bloomington after college but soon uncovered his talents as an inventor.
In fact, the brownie pan was his first invention. Appropriately, the idea came to him while he was eating a brownie ... an edge piece, of course.
That was 1998. Prototypes of the pan came in 2002 and the company officially launched as Baker's Edge in 2006. Griffin has since introduced other products, including the Better Muffin Pan and Simple Lasagna Pan - which has the same concept as the brownie pan.
"I'm an incredibly optimistic person, but I never thought it would do as well as it has," he said.
The company gained a major boost in 2010 when none other than Oprah Winfrey featured the Baker's Edge brownie pan during her "favorite things" episode, a special entirely devoted to the year's most innovative and useful products.
At the time, Griffin said he remembers thinking the Oprah exposure was like earning the "Olympic gold medal" of retail.
Tonight could be another watershed moment for the couple's company, that is, if the "Shark Tank" gives their product the right edge.
The show airs at 9 p.m.