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‘Shark Tank’s’ Daymond John Fuels Entrepreneurship at Tap the Future 2017
By Hal D. Roberts, Contributing Writer
Published August 10, 2017

Daymond John onstage at the MillerLite Tap the Future tour at L.A. Live. (Hal D. Roberts/ LA Sentinel)

Miller Lite’s Tap the Future competition stopped in Los Angeles on August 1. The event made stops in five cities, with the Los Angeles event taking place at the Conga Room at L.A. Live. Daymond John, founder of FUBU and co-host of ABC’s Shark Tank and Everette Taylor, vp of Marketing for Skurt were two of the judges.

The Live Pitch Tour gives budding entrepreneurs a chance to win an astounding investment to push their dreams ahead. More importantly, contestants receive monumental mentorship from successful entrepreneurs like John and Taylor.

According to Forbes, Daymond founded the notable streetwear brand, FUBU, while waiting tables at Red Lobster. The company launched in the early 1990s and reached more than $6 billion dollars in sales globally.

John is also a New York Times bestselling author, motivational speaker and was appointed as Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship under the leadership of President Barack Obama.

Daymond John and host Kenny Burns with the winner of the L.A. Tap the Future event, Jeremy Wall (center) with a crowd of his supporters. (Hal D. Roberts/ LA Sentinel)

Joining Taylor and John on the panel were the inaugural winners of the Tap the Future competition, Evan Wray and Sean O’Brien. The pair are the co-founders of Swyft Media and were featured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List this year. Wray and O’Brien won in 2012 and were present to help the upcoming winners in their ventures.

Kenny Burns, a lifestyle specialist and media executive who works for Combs Enterprises served as the master of ceremonies.

“Going out there and stumbling and failing a little bit,” is part of the process for any entrepreneur according to Daymond John who also gives advice for any entrepreneur, inside and outside of the competition.

The first winners, Wray and O’Brien, warn those who win from feeling as if they have arrived. “Once they’ve raised money, they feel like they have made it but that’s where the real work starts … that’s how you get going,” said Wray.

Tap the Future judges (from left) Everette Taylor, Evan Wray, Sean O’Brien and Daymond John. (Hal D. Roberts/ LA Sentinel)

“Life is a constant form of improvement and that’s exactly what companies do … and hopefully you will always have something to aspire to,” said John. The panel agrees that in entrepreneurship, brand building and the development of any successful company, there will always be another level.

Taylor, who works for Skurt, a mobile app that allows drivers to have a rental car delivered to them whenever and wherever they are, brought the importance of mental health into the discussion.

“Will that money or that next level truly make me happy?” asked Taylor, “We get so caught up in wanting to hit that next level and be successful and make more money but mental and emotional health is plaguing a lot of entrepreneurs … you have to ask what it is going to cost you.” John agreed saying that this is a lesson he did not learn until he was at least 40 and commended 28-year-old Taylor for attaining that wisdom so early in his career.

John said the Miller Lite Tap the Future partnership is his favorite because, “it is consistent and he can see the change [in the contestants.]”

Daymond John and Kenny Burns with the Tap the Future: Los Angeles competitors. (Hal D. Roberts/ LA Sentinel)

Regional contestants have the opportunity to win $20,000 with their first pitch. The winners who advance, then give a second pitch and have a chance at winning Tap the Future’s grand prize of $100,000.

Jeremy Wall, CEO of Lumenus, a startup specializing in smart, wearable lighting for cyclists took home the $20,000 cash prize in L.A.

Live Pitch attendees also utilized the night for networking and had the opportunity to drop their business cards in a lottery. A chosen few audience members received the chance to deliver their best “elevator pitch” to Daymond John and receive immediate feedback on their business ideas.

This is Tap the Future’s fifth year. The tour also stopped in New York, Atlanta, Houston and Chicago. The five semifinalists in each city have been selected from an applicant pool of nearly 7,000, according to a news release from Miller Lite.

The five regional winners will present their second pitch, in hopes of winning the grand prize next month at the MillerCoors headquarters in Chicago.

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