No one loves an unsolicited call from a telemarketer, so a company featured on Sunday night's "Shark Tank" created a clever way to combat such calls. Kevin O'Leary even offered it a nearly half-million dollar deal — before it all dramatically slipped away.
Jolly Roger Telephone Company was created by Steve Berkson and Roger Anderson, both veterans of the telecommunications industry. The automated answering service fights back against telemarketers by deploying bots that answer the calls and act as interested customers, but in reality just waste telemarketers' time and hinder their ability to make money.
"We provide friendly, patient robots that talk to these rude telemarketers for you," the company's website states. "They love to chit-chat, and will often keep nasty callers engaged for several minutes. By keeping the bad guys busy, you keep them from pestering other innocent people, and you hit them where it hurts most...their wallets...because no matter how hard they try, our robots won't ever buy anything."
On "Shark Tank," when demonstrating how the phone service works during the pitch, the Jolly Roger robots detect incoming calls from telemarketers and hilariously waste time, in one instance by insisting that the telemarketer sounds exactly like a friend from high school. In another instance, the Jolly Roger robot complains about her teenage daughter to the telemarketer.
The service costs 99 cents per month, or around $12 annually.
The sharks are certainly amused by the robots, but they aren't all sold on the idea: Jolly Roger is asking for $400,000 in exchange for a 10 percent stake. Mark Cuban feels that the company is a feature, not a product, so he opts out, as do Lori Greiner and Daymond John.
Former "Shark Tank" reject and guest judge Jamie Siminoff, whose company, Ring, Amazon bought for $1 billion, is interested. He wants to know how the founders will use the money, but is out when the entrepreneurs say they want to use any investment to work with phone carriers.
Then Kevin O'Leary speaks up: "I love the 'Revenge of the Nerds' aspect," O'Leary says, referring to the 1984 cult classic movie. He offers $400,000 in exchange for 50 percent of the company.
The entrepreneurs push back and say that's too much equity. Then Siminoff offers to do a 50-50 joint deal with O'Leary of $400,000 for 60 percent. The entrepreneurs counter, and the sharks end up revising their deal back down to $400,000 for 50 percent.
But the entrepreneurs continue to try and make their case. It turns off the Sharks and both Siminoff and O'Leary rescind their offer.
Jolly Roger walks away empty handed. But then again, when Siminoff appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2013 to pitch his company, he didn't make a deal either. A few years later billionaire Richard Branson became an investor in Ring and in February 2018, Amazon bought the company.
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Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to ABC's "Shark Tank."