Jason Hanson, who scored a deal with Daymond to grow his Spy Escape and Evasion course in episode 520, lived out his childhood fantasies while working for the CIA. Now, as an entrepreneur and Shark Tank success story, he's living a different fantasy.
When he was in the Tank, Jason asked the Sharks for $100,000 for a 15% stake in his company. The business had $306,000 in total sales with $128,000 in profits. He had Barbara duct tape his hands tightly and he quickly escaped. Jason also tied Robert's hands with zip ties and showed him how to escape using his shoelaces. Daymond partnered with Jason and Spy Escape, offering $150,000 for 45% of the business and since then, business is BOOMING.
I caught up with Jason to get an update on what's been happening with his Spy Escape course since his original air date.
Spy Escape Sales Spike with Daymond on Board
“The deal with Daymond went through,” Jason said. “He's an awesome partner – a very down to earth guy. Since inking our deal, we talk or email every week. The biggest benefit is he has connections I don't.”
Jason also benefited from the Shark Tank effect. “Our website traffic spiked like crazy following the show,” Jason adds. “We did $200K in sales in a week – it usually takes 8 months to get those kind of numbers! Partnering with Daymond helped me immensely, my huge weakness is I'm not an internet marketing guy, Daymond was a big help with that side of the business.”
“We were making money before, but with the publicity machine that is Shark Tank, I was able to get more speaking gigs and get in front of more corporate customers.”
“A lot of people don't know Daymond is a gun guy – he has hundreds of acres in upstate New York and he hunts up there whenever he gets the chance. I've been to New York twice to see him. The first time we met in his office in the Empire State Building with his whole team; it was exciting and surreal. Since then, I've been on Rachel Rae and the NBC Today Show. I taped a segment with Lester Holt doing evasive driving drills.”
Jason Hanson, the CIA and Becoming an Entrepreneur
“I grew up in the Washington DC area and was interested in law enforcement. I applied to the Secret Service and the CIA, but went to work in the Arlington, VA police force. I'd only been with them less than a year when my application to both were accepted. I chose the CIA because they treat their people really well.”
“As a CIA field agent, I got to live out a whole bunch of childhood fantasies, but the lifestyle isn't conducive to having a family – 80% of the field agents are divorced. I didn't want that for myself or my family and I didn't want to be chained to a desk as an analyst for 30 years, so I left the CIA and we moved to Utah to raise a family and start the Concealed Carry Academy.”
“I began offering the Spy Escape courses after developing the curriculum and, at first, most of the students were corporate people who were going to work overseas. A lot of them came back after taking the course and said ‘hey, I'd like my wife to take this course,' so I wanted to take it to the next level. 70% of my students are men, but I've had students from age 9 to 70 years old. The one commonality is most are conservative Americans, but I've trained everyone from kids to executives to soccer moms.”
I wanted to know how Jason dealt with “fringe types” who wanted to take his course. He said, “most Americans are middle of the road – not right or left-wing extremists. I have a pretty good sense of when someone is signing up for the ‘wrong' reasons. I've even returned money to people that I wasn't entirely comfortable with, but most people who take my courses are average Americans.”
Spies in the Shark Tank
“Before I started the business, I was a fan of the show. I'd seen Dragon's Den and I was wondering when the show would catch on in America. I'd been doing the business since 2010, but things had plateaued. I knew I wanted to get to the next level, so I sent in an application to Shark Tank. I actually forgot about it, but two or three months later, I got a call, took the next steps and ended up taping in September . ”
“Once I knew I was going to tape, I watched every episode and did my research. I knew Daymond was an outdoorsman and a gun guy, so I paid special attention to the companies he funded. I guarantee nobody ever prepared for Shark Tank as much as I did; after all, I left the CIA to start a business!”
“I was in front of the Sharks for about an hour, but they whittled it down to ten minutes. At times I must have looked horrible, but the edit showed me in a very good light. I love what I do, but sales isn't my best quality – I've met Nate from the Mission Belt, THAT guy could sell ice to an Eskimo!”
Shark Tank Aftermath
Jason has a full slate for the rest of 2014. He has a book on Safety and Survival tips coming out in the fall  and he's on the road with 18 Spy Escape and Evasion courses through mid November. His website has a list of the cities, but classes fill up fast since they're limited to 60 participants.
I asked Jason if he had any advice for would-be entrepreneurs. He offered this: “My advice isn't sexy – you gotta work your tail off. Look at me – I started at 23, now I am 33; it took me ten years to be an ‘overnight success.' You have to work all day, there's no magic pill for being an entrepreneur. I've had the good fortune to meet millionaires and billionaires; they aren't smarter than anyone else they just never give up and outwork every one, period.”
I had one other question for Jason. He answers it over at The Hot Dog Truck.