When The Villages resident Shane Pannell found himself a stay-at-home dad after selling his share of a pest control company, he didn’t know he was on his way to being on the television show “Shark Tank.”
The show, an American version of the BBC’s “Dragon’s Den,” gives entrepreneurs like Pannell the chance to pitch their idea or invention to a group of millionaires and billionaires who then decide whether to invest in the project.
In Pannell’s case, weeks of scraping messes from his three kids and pets off the floor eventually led to his inventing the SweepEasy broom. He’s dad to 10-year-old Cheney, Tenley, 5, and 3-year-old Ireland.
It’s a broom with a scraper that ejects from the bristles so the user can scrape and sweep up gunk stuck on the floor without having to bend down or grab a butter knife.
“Let’s face it, we’re lazy,” Pannell said. “We like things that can make life easier. I program my mind so that everything I do, I ask if there’s a shortcut.”
Pannell knew he was on to something after showing the working prototype to local fast-food restaurant owners who offered to buy the broom on the spot.
So he applied to be on “Shark Tank.” The application process was fairly lengthy, consisting of various phases and submitting an audition video. After the thousands of applicants were whittled down to about a hundred, Shane and his wife Melissa drove to L.A. for a three-night stay.
After a couple of rehearsals with executive producers, Pannell found himself in front of rolling camers and five millionaires, including Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and chairman of HDNet, and Lori Greiner, an inventor who made her cash as The Queen of QVC.
Pannell said he wasn’t intimidated.
“I had demo-ed my product so much at that point, it was more excitement than anything else,” Pannell said. “We had a lot of fun in there.”
Pannell also learned about the magic of television editing from his experience when the episode aired April 22.
“They did a lot of the events out of order,” he said, noting that his approximately 10 minutes on television was really 45 minutes behind the scenes. Additionally, while on the episode he states he wants to call his wife and it looks as though he doesn’t; in fact he did call her.
Pannell said he had to be careful about what he said because he signed a nondisclosure clause with the show.
For now, his broom is only sold on his website.
Pannell said he always knew he wanted to be an inventor and salesman of some sort.
“In first grade, I would save all my money after the holidays and go out and buy candy,” he said. “Then I would sell the candy to the other kids for a dollar a handful.”
Pannell said he has plenty of other ideas up his sleeve and hopes to continue inventing new products.
“I’m a kid at heart even though I’m almost 40,” Pannell said. “Most people turn off that dream part of their brain when they’re in third grade, but I never stopped dreaming.”