In 2016, Don Lessem, better known as “Dino Don”, appeared on the television show Shark Tank to pitch his business idea for creating educational dinosaur exhibits. Despite his charismatic personality and passion for paleontology, the sharks were not impressed and ultimately passed on investing in his company. However, this did not deter Dino Don from pursuing his dream .
Following his appearance on Shark Tank, Dino Don continued to work tirelessly on his business, which involves designing and building life-size animatronic dinosaurs for museums, theme parks, and other venues. He also expanded his offerings to include educational materials and programs for schools and other educational institutions.
Despite the setback of not securing funding from the sharks, Dino Don’s business has continued to thrive. His exhibits have been featured in museums across the United States and around the world, and he has become a sought-after speaker on the topic of paleontology and science education.
In this article, we will explore what happened after Dino Don’s appearance on Shark Tank and how he was able to turn his passion for dinosaurs into a successful business. We will delve into his approach to entrepreneurship, his marketing strategies, and his dedication to educating the public about science and history through his exhibits and programs.
Through the story of Dino Don, we will gain insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by entrepreneurs and how resilience, creativity, and a passion for one’s work can lead to success.
What Is Dino Don?
Dino Don from Shark Tank is a robotic dinosaur manufacturer business founded by Don Lessem and his wife, Val Jones. The company creates life-sized, animatronic dinosaurs for cultural institutions and exhibitions to provide an immersive experience and are designed to be scientifically accurate.
The duo appeared on the season finale of Shark Tank in May 2021 and caught the eye of Mark Cuban, who invested $500,000 in the business in exchange for a 10% stake. The investment allowed the company to expand and take on new projects, including a custom dinosaur exhibit for a children’s hospital .
About The Founders Of Dino Don
Don Lessem, the founder of Dino Don, is a well-known dinosaur expert who has dedicated his life to studying and presenting the fascinating world of dinosaurs to the public. He has been involved in several high-profile dinosaur-focused projects, including the creation of the animatronic dinosaurs for the Universal Studios theme park ride, “Jurassic Park: The Ride”, and serving as the scientific advisor for the 2000 IMAX movie “T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous” .
In 2016, Don Lessem founded Dino Don, Inc., a company that specializes in creating robotic animals, including dinosaurs, which are available for sale and exhibition rental. Prior to this, Lessem had established Exhibitsrex, Inc. in 1993, which focuses on producing high-quality exhibitions featuring robotic dinosaurs, natural history, and history. Additionally, Exhibitsrex creates children’s books.
Lessem earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University and went on to complete a master’s degree from UMass Boston. He has also worked as a dinosaur expert on Stephen Spielberg’s Jurassic Park for two years. With a passion for science education, Lessem has written over 50 science-related books and founded both the Dinosaur Society and the Jurassic Foundation.
The Pitch Of Dino Don At Shark Tank
During their appearance on Shark Tank, Don Lessem and Val Jones presented their company, Dino Don, and asked the Sharks for a $500,000 investment in exchange for a 10% equity stake. Val shared their business journey, which caught the attention of the Sharks.
They emphasized that Dino Don is the largest supplier of robotic dinosaurs in the United States, and Lessem explained that the company’s goal is to create educational experiences that draw people to zoos and museums to learn about dinosaurs.
In 2019, Dino Don exhibited 45 life-size dinosaurs, attracting 440,000 visitors who paid $6 per person, resulting in $2.2 million in revenue .
Despite the challenges of the pandemic in 2020, Dino Don managed to generate $1.8 million in revenue, up from $1.6 million in 2019. They currently have 150 dinosaurs available and have set a target of reaching $3 million in revenue next year. In 2019, they had a profit of $250,000.
During their pitch on Shark Tank, Kevin expressed doubts about their ability to execute and declined to invest. Daymond also passed on the opportunity, feeling he couldn’t add value to the company. Lori found it difficult to envision the business and opted not to invest.
However, Mark was intrigued by the concept and offered $500,000 in exchange for a 25% equity stake, valuing the company at $2 million. Robert recognized the value in Mark’s offer and decided not to make a counteroffer.
Ultimately, Lessem accepted Mark’s offer, and he invested $500,000 in Dino Don for a 25% equity stake, finalizing the deal on the show.
Dino Don After The Shark Tank
After a successful partnership with Mark Cuban, Dino Don Inc Company has been able to expand its business and increase its revenue exponentially. Mark has promised to utilize his marketing skills to help the company achieve millions of dollars in sales every month, leading to its steady growth.
Before appearing on Shark Tank, the company had only produced 150 dinosaur species. As of September 2022, they have increased their production to over 1,000 different species. Not only do they create dinosaurs with accurate and realistic appearances, but they also specialize in building custom robotics with attention to detail.
Dino Don’s exhibitions can be found in popular zoos and museums both nationally and internationally. The company has also established partnerships with organizations such as Universal Studios, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and various international countries like Russia, China, Mongolia, and Argentina.
Currently, Dino Don maintains a collection of 200 dinosaurs and other robotic creatures, including a 110-foot-long model. One of their most popular attractions, the 40-foot-long Tyrannosaurus rex, can be found at the Dinosaur Safari exhibit in the Sacramento Zoo, which draws a significant amount of public attention.
Their dinosaurs are not only available in countries like Belgium, Germany, England, France, and Finland but also in Russia and China. Dino Don has established a reputation for creating lifelike and authentic dinosaurs, making it a go-to company for those in search of such products.
The Net Worth Of Dino Don
The Shark Tank Blog keeps viewers informed with updates on entrepreneurs who have pitched on the show. As of July 2021, the deal with Mark was not yet finalized, but it had only been two months since the episode aired. At that time, the company had an annual revenue of $1 million. However, the deal eventually closed and the business was listed on Mark’s website in October 2021.
By January 2022, the company announced a revenue of $4 million for 2021. In February of the same year, they launched their traveling dinosaur roadshow at the Bishop Museum of Science in Bradenton, Florida, featuring 50 dinosaurs of various sizes. They expected to generate $10 million in revenue from the show. Don also worked on a documentary series called The Dinosaur Factory, which is scheduled to air in the fall of 2022 .
In episode 1323, the company received an update segment. They reported that since their appearance on Shark Tank, their collection of robots has grown from 150 to over 400, including ice-age animals, giant bugs, and dragons. The company has expanded to four countries and has grown from four employees to twenty-five. They now have dinosaurs in Belgium, Germany, England, France, and Finland.
Their annual revenue has also grown from $1.8 million to $4.2 million with the help of Mark’s investment. They used Mark’s funds to create a traveling dinosaur show with 60 dinosaurs, and Mark predicts that the company will be earning $10 million in the next year or two. Don’s motivation for this business comes from the amazement on children’s faces when they see his shows and exhibits.
Dino Don on Social Media
Dino Don, the company behind the life-sized, animatronic dinosaur exhibit, has an active presence on social media. They use these platforms to promote their exhibits, showcase updates and new creations, and engage with their audience.
On Twitter, the company goes by the handle “@Dinosaurs_Don” and has over 2,000 followers. They frequently tweet about their exhibits, sharing images and information about their animatronic dinosaurs. They also engage with their followers by responding to tweets and retweeting relevant posts .
On Facebook, Dino Don has a page with over 13,000 likes. The company uses its page to share videos and photos of its exhibits and to promote upcoming events. They also use the platform to respond to messages and comments from their followers.
Dino Don also has an active presence on Instagram, under the handle “@dinodinc”. On the platform, they share visually appealing images of their animatronic dinosaurs, as well as videos that show the creatures in action. They also use Instagram to showcase behind-the-scenes photos of their exhibits and to interact with their followers by responding to comments and direct messages.
Lastly, Dino Don has a presence on YouTube, where they upload videos of their exhibits, educational content, and behind-the-scenes footage. They use the platform to build hype for upcoming exhibits and to showcase the capabilities of their animatronic dinosaurs.
Alternatives To Dino Don
Firstly, there’s Imagine Exhibitions, a worldwide leader in the traveling museum exhibition industry, that offers animatronic dinosaurs, among other exhibits. They have been in business for over 20 years and have created exhibits for well-known brands such as National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institution. Imagine Exhibitions prioritize scientific accuracy, creating immersive environments that showcase the prehistoric world.
Another option is Dinosaurs Unearthed, a Canadian-based company that offers a combination of animatronic dinosaurs, interactive exhibits, and educational components. The company works with museums, science centers, and theme parks to create exhibits that are both entertaining and informative. They incorporate new technology such as augmented reality and virtual reality to enhance the overall experience for visitors.
Prehistoric Designs is another alternative that offers animatronic dinosaurs as well as other prehistoric creatures such as mammoths and sabertooth tigers. They provide a unique theme-park feel and specialize in creating custom experiences that fit the needs and specifications of their clients.
Lastly, KAN Productions offers animatronic dinosaur exhibits that are designed for the entertainment industry. They cater to theme parks, restaurants, and other types of entertainment venues. KAN Productions create a completely immersive environment, including sound and light effects that bring their exhibits to life.
There are several alternatives to Dino Don for those interested in animatronic or robotic animals:
- Animatronic Innovations. This company specializes in creating animatronic animals for theme parks, museums, and other attractions. They offer a range of animals, including dinosaurs, mammals, and sea creatures;
- Creature Technology Co. This Australian-based company is known for creating the animatronic creatures used in the popular live stage show “Walking with Dinosaurs”. They also create creatures for other productions, including movies and theme parks;
- Garner Holt Productions. This company creates animatronics for a variety of industries, including theme parks, museums, and casinos. They offer a wide range of animals, from dinosaurs to mythical creatures;
- LifeFormations. This company creates lifelike animatronic animals for museums, zoos, and other attractions. They offer a range of animals, including dinosaurs, mammals, and birds;
- Kokoro Company Ltd. This Japanese-based company creates animatronic animals for a range of industries, including theme parks, museums, and robotics research. They are known for their lifelike and expressive robots, which include both animals and humans ;
What is the Dino Don exhibit?
How did the Dino Don exhibit become popular?
The Dino Don exhibit gained significant popularity after Don Lessem appeared on the season finale of ABC’s Shark Tank, where he convinced Mark Cuban to invest in his business idea. The exposure from the show helped Dino Don grow and expand to more locations across the United States.
Where can I see the Dino Don exhibit?
The Dino Don exhibit is a traveling exhibition that has been shown in various locations across the United States, including science museums, fairs, and festivals. To find out where the exhibit is currently located, visit the Dino Don website or check with your local science museum or fair.
Is the Dino Don exhibit suitable for children?
Yes, the Dino Don exhibit is kid-friendly and suitable for all ages. The exhibit is designed to be educational and entertaining, with interactive elements and information panels that teach visitors about the prehistoric world and the science behind the exhibit.
How long does the Dino Don exhibit stay in one location?
The length of time that the Dino Don exhibit stays in one location varies depending on the venue and the schedule. Some exhibits may stay for several weeks or months, while others may only stay for a few days. To find out how long the exhibit will be in your area, check the Dino Don website or contact your local science museum or fair.
Can I book the Dino Don exhibit for a private event?
Yes, the Dino Don exhibit is available for private events such as corporate parties, birthday parties, and other special events. To book the exhibit, contact Dino Don, Inc. directly through their website or email. Keep in mind that booking the exhibit for a private event can be expensive, and availability may be limited depending on the schedule.
What does Dino Don do?
Dino Don, whose real name is Don Lessem, designs and builds life-size animatronic dinosaurs for museums, theme parks, and other venues. He also provides educational materials and programs for schools and other educational institutions to help educate the public about science and history through his exhibits and programs.
Who is the Dino guy on Shark Tank?
The “Dino guy” on Shark Tank is Don Lessem, also known as “Dino Don”. He appeared on the show in 2016 to pitch his business idea of creating educational dinosaur exhibits.
How long did dinosaurs live?
Dinosaurs lived during the Mesozoic Era, which lasted from about 252 million years ago to 66 million years ago. The exact lifespan of individual dinosaur species varied widely, with some living only a few million years and others existing for tens of millions of years .
Who invented animatronics?
Animatronics was developed by Walt Disney and his team in the 1960s for use in Disneyland attractions. The technology involves using electronic and mechanical components to create lifelike movements in robotic figures.
Who made the T. rex animatronic?
There have been many animatronic T. rex models created over the years, but one of the most famous is the one created by Stan Winston Studio for the 1993 film Jurassic Park.
What is the scariest animatronic in the world?
The “scariest” animatronic in the world is subjective and can vary depending on personal preferences. However, some examples of particularly realistic and impressive animatronics include the “King Kong” figure at Universal Studios Hollywood and the “Alien Encounter” attraction at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom (now replaced by “Stitch’s Great Escape”) .
Has Shark Tank ever lost money?
Yes, on occasion, the sharks on Shark Tank have invested in businesses that ultimately failed, resulting in a loss of money. However, they have also invested in many successful businesses that have gone on to achieve great success.
What is the oldest animatronics?
The oldest known animatronic figure is the “Ardent Egyptologist”, a mechanical figure created by French engineer Jacques de Vaucanson in the mid-1700s. The figure was capable of moving its head, eyes, and arms, and was designed to simulate the movements of an ancient Egyptian priest.
What is the animatronics real name?
“Animatronics” is not a person’s name, but rather a term used to describe a technology that involves using electronic and mechanical components to create lifelike movements in robotic figures.
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