Sparketh, an innovative online art education platform, embarked on an exciting adventure in the world of children’s art. Founded by childhood friends Dwayne Walker and Tim Samuel, they was designed to offer a comprehensive and engaging art education experience for children aged 6 to 18. They recognized the need for a platform that could provide young, aspiring artists with the right guidance to nurture their talents.
What is Sparketh?
Sparketh is a digital platform that offers a wide range of art courses, making it an invaluable resource for children looking to explore their creativity. With over 1,000 video lessons, they provides a diverse array of art styles and designs, from abstract to animals, drawing to food, manga to nature, painting to portraits, and various techniques. These courses are curated by talented mentors who are passionate about helping young artists develop their skills.
The platform is entirely online, allowing access from any device with internet connectivity. They offers two subscription plans: a monthly plan for $25 and an annual plan for $250. Both plans provide unlimited access to the library of over 1,000 videos and include two separate student accounts. Additionally, the annual plan offers a $50 discount compared to the monthly subscription and allows users to request specific courses they wish to learn.
Founders of Sparketh
Dwayne Walker, co-founder and CEO, is not only an entrepreneur but also a graphic designer. His creativity and passion for art inspired him to establish Sparketh. Dwayne had a strong desire to provide young artists with the opportunity to explore their creativity and artistic potential.
Tim Samuel, co-founder and Vice President of Sparketh, is a freelance video editor with 15 years of experience in the field. His expertise in video editing played a crucial role in shaping the platform’s content.
The Genesis of Sparketh: Before Shark Tank
Dwayne and Tim’s journey towards Sparketh began with their shared passion for learning and improvement. Each summer, they dedicated themselves to acquiring new skills and becoming better versions of themselves. Their shared childhood experiences in activities like poker, magic tricks, and business networking sparked their entrepreneurial spirit.
Dwayne’s early exposure to art and his subsequent artistic success became the catalyst for the inception of Sparketh. Homeschooled by his mother and self-driven in his art education, he honed his skills and started winning art contests and awards as he grew older. This journey eventually led to the idea of an online art course platform that would provide proper guidance and mentorship to young, budding artists.
When they started Sparketh in 2014, marketing was a significant focus for the duo. Being a new startup, they faced the challenge of building recognition and awareness for their platform. They also hired art instructors to enrich their offerings and made the platform more user-friendly.
The Sparketh Pitch on Shark Tank
Dwayne and Tim entered the world-famous Shark Tank with the aim of securing an investment for Sparketh. In the tank, they presented their platform and sought $100,000 in exchange for an 8% equity stake in their company, which they valued at $1.6 million.
The founders demonstrated the ease of learning art through live painting, showcasing how accessible and enjoyable art education could be on Sparketh. In a unique twist, the sharks joined in the painting process, creating leaf art with various colors.
Their entrepreneurial journey started with a modest $500 investment to build their website. Despite lacking prior technical knowledge, they learned programming languages like PHP, CSS, and HTML to create their courses. Dwayne focused on course creation, while Tim handled video editing.
The financial performance of Sparketh was impressive. In 2020, their sales reached $300,000, primarily from a business-to-consumer (B2C) subscription-based model. The customer lifetime value stood at $160, while the customer acquisition cost was $51.50. Sales figures for 2019 were $75,000, and in 2018, they generated $110,000 in revenue.
The founders expressed their intent to utilize the $100,000 investment to enhance their content and further develop their platform. They set ambitious goals for 2021, aiming for $500,000 in revenue.
In the tank, Lori Greiner decided not to invest, stating that she wasn’t an “app person.” Kevin O’Leary questioned the return on investment, but the founders’ response did not meet his criteria, leading to his exit. Mark Cuban also opted not to invest.
Barbara Corcoran recognized the potential in Sparketh and offered $100,000 for a 20% equity stake, contingent on the company proving profitability within six months. Daniel Lubetzky saw promise in the business and joined Barbara with the same offer. Dwayne and Tim accepted the joint offer from Barbara and Daniel.
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The Post-Shark Tank Journey of Sparketh
The deal with Barbara Corcoran and Daniel Lubetzky marked a significant turning point in Sparketh’s journey. Both investors were confident in the platform’s potential and pledged to guide its growth.
Despite being a non-profitable company, Sparketh secured a substantial investment in Shark Tank. Critics argued that art education content was abundantly available on platforms like YouTube, where aspiring artists could access tutorials for free. However, Sparketh’s unique approach and comprehensive courses set it apart in the field of art education.
The response from Shark Tank viewers on social media was overwhelmingly positive, and many praised the platform for its impact on children’s art education. Numerous Twitter users revealed that they had subscribed to Sparketh to teach art to their children.
Since the Shark Tank deal, Sparketh has made significant improvements, including the introduction of an art contest for its members. The contest involved tagging photos of old and new artwork on the platform, with prizes for the top three selections.
The platform has witnessed steady growth, with around 10,000 children and teenagers enrolling in art courses. While its Twitter account has been inactive since November 2021, Sparketh continues to operate as of December 2022.
In summary, Sparketh’s journey after Shark Tank is a testament to its resilience and commitment to nurturing young artists’ creativity. The joint investment from Barbara Corcoran and Daniel Lubetzky has provided the platform with the resources to expand and enhance its offerings. By focusing on organic growth through website optimization and ongoing improvements, Sparketh remains a valuable resource for young artists and continues to make a positive impact in the world of children’s art education.
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