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Shark bait? Taylorsville native to pitch her business on ABC's 'Shark Tank' Friday

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By PHYLLIS MCLAUGHLIN, Special to The Magnet
Local fans of the ABC’s “Shark Tank” will have a special treat Friday night, as a former Taylorsville resident will be one of the featured entrepreneurs attempting to persuade the panel to invest in her business.
Lori Cheek, daughter of Larry and Anna Ruth Cheek, is the founder of Cheek’d, which she describes as an online dating service “with a twist.”
People who join Cheek’d receive 50 business cards with flirty comments and their Cheek’d ID number. Anywhere, at anytime, when a Cheek’d member sees a person they would like to meet, they can discretely hand that person one of their cards. The receiver, in turn, can go online and check out the member’s profile at Cheekd.com and then can decide whether or not to make contact.
“There are more than 3,500 dating websites,” Cheek said. “I’ve built one that’s for the real world.”
Cheek, who lives in New York City, quit her job as an architect four years ago to launch her idea. She started out with two other partners, whose interests were bought out by a new partner – a website developer who has been a valuable asset, helping her resolve website issues and develop a mobile app for smart phones.
“It has definitely been the biggest struggle of my life,” Cheek said in a recent telephone interview with the Magnet. “I have not taken a paycheck since I started this four years ago, and I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.”
She said last year someone suggested that she apply to be on “Shark Tank,” which features a panel of self-made millionaires and billionaires who listen to several business pitches each week and decide whether or not any of them are worthy of investment capital.
The “Sharks” are Mark Cuban, owner and chairman of AXS TV and owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team; real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran; Lori Greiner, a.k.a. the “Queen of QVC”; technology innovator Robert Herjavec; fashion and branding expert Daymond John; and venture capitalist Kevin O’Leary, according to ABC.com.
The potential is there, if she survives, to secure a business deal that could make Cheek a millionaire, herself.
A nondisclosure agreement with ABC means Cheek cannot divulge the results of her turn at the tank, which was taped back in the fall. In fact, she didn’t know until the beginning of the month whether her pitch would even make it to air.
But, she said, the experience “was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve never been more nervous. There’s a lot at stake. It can be ‘make or break’ for my business, which I’ve been working my tail off to build.”
Now that she knows her story will be told on national television, no matter which way the Sharks decide to go – to invest or not invest in Cheek’d – Cheek knows she is going to get exposure she couldn’t otherwise afford.
With 8.5 million people tuning into the show each week, she said there’s no telling who might be interested in her idea – even if the Sharks aren’t.
And Friday will be a busy night for Cheek, who won’t be sitting on her couch to watch the show. Instead, a NYC-based group of entrepreneurs are hosting a viewing party for her, from which she plans to use social media – including Twitter – to make the most of the opportunity to get the word out about the show and generate interest in Cheek’d.
Her parents also will be attending a viewing party that friends will be hosting in Louisville, she said.
And her parents couldn’t be more nervous – or more proud – of their daughter.
“This has been really exciting,” Anna Ruth Cheek said. “So many people apply” to be on the show, and only a few are chosen. “This will give her a lot of exposure.”
When their daughter told them she was quitting her job and putting everything she had into her idea, “there was silence from her Dad and me,” Anna Ruth admitted. “But we’ve been supportive. … She’s always been an independent person. … I hope it pays off. We feel like it’s going to, one way or the other.” struggle of my life,” Cheek said in a recent telephone interview with the Magnet. “I have not taken a paycheck since I started this four years ago, and I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.”
She said last year someone suggested that she apply to be on “Shark Tank,” which features a panel of self-made millionaires and billionaires who listen to several business pitches each week and decide whether or not any of them are worthy of investment capital.
The “Sharks” are Mark Cuban, owner and chairman of AXS TV and owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team; real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran; Lori Greiner, a.k.a. the “Queen of QVC”; technology innovator Robert Herjavec; fashion and branding expert Daymond John; and venture capitalist Kevin O’Leary, according to ABC.com.
The potential is there, if she survives, to secure a business deal that could make Cheek a millionaire, herself.
A nondisclosure agreement with ABC means Cheek cannot divulge the results of her turn at the tank, which was taped back in the fall. In fact, she didn’t know until the beginning of the month whether her pitch would even make it to air.
But, she said, the experience “was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve never been more nervous. There’s a lot at stake. It can be ‘make or break’ for my business, which I’ve been working my tail off to build.”
Now that she knows her story will be told on national television, no matter which way the Sharks decide to go – to invest or not invest in Cheek’d – Cheek knows she is going to get exposure she couldn’t otherwise afford.
With 8.5 million people tuning into the show each week, she said there’s no telling who might be interested in her idea – even if the Sharks aren’t.
And Friday will be a busy night for Cheek, who won’t be sitting on her couch to watch the show. Instead, a NYC-based group of entrepreneurs are hosting a viewing party for her, from which she plans to use social media – including Twitter – to make the most of the opportunity to get the word out about the show and generate interest in Cheek’d.
Her parents also will be attending a viewing party that friends will be hosting in Louisville, she said.
And her parents couldn’t be more nervous – or more proud – of their daughter.
“This has been really exciting,” Anna Ruth Cheek said. “So many people apply” to be on the show, and only a few are chosen. “This will give her a lot of exposure.”
When their daughter told them she was quitting her job and putting everything she had into her idea, “there was silence from her Dad and me,” Anna Ruth admitted. “But we’ve been supportive. … She’s always been an independent person. … I hope it pays off. We feel like it’s going to, one way or the other.”