He may have lured the sharks from their seats to the dance floor, but things didn’t shake out well for a Bollywood-inspired fitness guru on Sunday’s episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
Shahil Patel, the creator of Bolly X, certainly knew to make an entrance. Flanked by a group of dancers dressed in bright costumes, Patel burst through the door grooving along as traditional Bollywood music filled the tank.
“That’s the best intro so far,” guest shark Rohan Oza said as Patel ripped open his shirt to reveal a black Bolly X tee.
The music, seen in countless Indian films, is “full of dancing and music that makes you feel like a rock star,” Patel breathlessly exclaimed as he pantomimed several poses to the sharks. “What if we can combine the fun, the energy, the excitement of Bollywood into a workout?”
Patel invited the sharks to participate in a Bolly X workout routine. Wearing traditional clothing including red taqiyah (caps), the sharks moved along to Patel’s instructions, bending low to the floor and reaching for the ceiling before giving their best rock-star poses.
A Boston native now living in Yorba Linda, California, Patel reconnected with his Indian roots at the request of his mother, he said. “Growing up, I was actually supposed to be a doctor.”
“Aren’t we all?” joked Oza, also of Indian descent.
Patel joined a Bollywood dance team, but said he was quite horrible at it. In his spare time, he would watch videos and film himself, trying to correct his “two left feet.” Despite his rocky start, Patel later led a Bollywood dance team to the semifinals of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
Almost everything about Patel’s presentation was impressive. He even swayed shark Kevin O’Leary, who was initially skeptical of his low $20 subscription price for instructors, with his more expansive online exercise-video business.
“This model is also proven,” O’Leary said. “I know people who pay monthly just to do their moves off their mobile device. You’re not as crazy as I thought.”
That is, until they got to the numbers. Patel wanted $375,000 for 8 percent of his business, but he admitted to the sharks that family and friends had already invested $1.7 million in the company which last year lost $600,000.
“Building what technology? You’re doing YouTube videos,” said a flabbergasted Mark Cuban. “There’s nothing custom about showing a Bollywood exercise video.”
Worse, Patel also admitted he only had $75,000 in the bank. The confident dancer crumbled as he stuttered over his own words and watched as each shark refused the deal.
“It seems like you have a lot going on, and you’re not totally focused,” said guest shark Bethenny Frankel. “I think you have to do one thing and do it really well, and then build. I’m so sorry. I think you’re amazing, but I’m out.”
“Like I said, I’m actually open to offers,” said a suddenly negotiable Patel, his voice cracking. “If you guys are interested, I’m open to hearing what your thoughts are.”
But there would be no deal today. Shark Lori Greiner opted out of the deal, leaving a clearly interested but conflicted Oza sighing in disappointment: “The problem is what you’ve proven so far is a taste, but doesn’t give me a clear line to success.”
While he hoped to be the next Zumba sensation, Patel made one final dance pose as he left the tank, empty-handed.
The show is on hiatus until Jan. 6.