When season 10 of the reality show "Shark Tank" premieres on ABC next month, Dalton Middle School student Tripp Phillips will find himself front and center on the television program.
The show with Phillips pitching his product Le-Glue, a non-permanent glue that holds Legos and other building blocks together without damaging them, airs on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 10 p.m. On "Shark Tank," entrepreneurs present their ideas to the "sharks," celebrity investors/show hosts Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John and Kevin O'Leary — all millionaires or billionaires.
The contestants try to convince at least one of the hosts to invest money in their idea. If more than one host decides to invest, a bidding war over the idea begins and can increase the investment's price.
Phillips, 12, a seventh-grader at Dalton Middle School, invented the product when he has nine.
"I was extremely excited after hearing I was selected for the show," he said.
This isn't his first "Shark Tank"-style experience. Phillips won first place in the inaugural PitchDIA (Dalton Innovation Accelerator) contest on May 15. The contest solicited ideas from local entrepreneurs. More than 60 companies entered the contest.
During that competition, Phillips told the judges — Piet Dossche, president of U.S Floors and executive vice president of Shaw Industries; Jamie Hamilton of Atlanta Seed Co.; Marilyn Helms, dean of the Wright School of Business at Dalton State College; and Brian Moore of BB&T Bank — that Le-Glue is already being sold online through sites such as eBay, Etsy and Amazon.
With the win, Phillips received $5,000 and became the first occupant in the Dalton Innovation Accelerator space in the Landmark Building in downtown Dalton. He also won various professional services from local firms.
A few weeks before winning the local contest, Phillips attended a "Shark Tank" casting call in Atlanta at SunTrust Park inside the Comcast building with his father Lee Phillips.
"There were about 500 people in line," Lee Phillips said. "We pulled up our lawn chairs and waited for five hours."
Once inside, Tripp Phillips did a 90-second presentation on the glue for producers.
"I was not nervous during the 'Shark Tank' pitch," he said.
A few days later after the casting call, a producer called the Phillips family to tell them Tripp was selected to send a video pitching his product.
"The Los Angeles (California) producers watched the video and then we got another call to fly there in June to tape," Lee Phillips said.
The entire family, including Tripp's mother Dana and sister Allee, flew to California and went to the studio to tape. Allee and Lee appear on the show with Tripp.
"It was a little bit nerve-wracking (pitching for the hosts) but I didn't let it affect me," said Tripp Phillips.
For contractual reasons, the Phillips family can't reveal the outcome of the "Shark Tank" episode.
"They (the hosts) were very kind," Lee Phillips said. "We had an enjoyable experience and they didn't rip him to shreds like they do other people."
Lee Phillips said since taping the show the family has been busy "building up inventory."
"Shark Tank" has averaged several million viewers since its debut in 2009, "so obviously we’re thinking we’ll get a big boost of sales," Lee Phillips said.
Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce President Rob Bradham said the group is planning a watch party for the public. Bradham said having an inaugural PitchDIA winner on "Shark Tank" is a "tremendous opportunity for him and our community."
"We're all very excited for Tripp and the entire Phillips family," he said.
For more information on Le-Glue, visit le-glue.com.