Robert Herjavec is a very successful entrepreneur, most widely known for his role on the hit ABC show Shark Tank. He is one of the investors on the show, which focuses on helping budding entrepreneurs get there unique projects off the ground. Earlier this year, Herjavec stepped away from the investors table to put on a pair of dance shoes, and join partner Kym Johnson on season 20 of Dancing with the Stars. Although Herjavec and Johnson were recently eliminated from the show only a few short weeks from the finale, he still has a lot of projects around the corner. He has recently partnered with Deluxe Corporation for the #SmallBusinessRevolution Campaign, to show some appreciation to small businesses across the nation. Herjavec is currently ramping up for the new season of Shark Tank, which begins in June, in between all of his projects he took the time to catch up with The Celebrity Café to talk about some exciting new projects, and the road that lies ahead.
The Celebrity Café: There seems to be a theme of you giving back to the next generation of entrepreneurs. Why do you think it is so important for people to invest in small businesses?
Robert Herjavec: Well what we have learned is that the business of America really is Business. Most new jobs are created by the small businesses. It really is the hidden secret of America, and the growth engine. You’ve got a company like Deluxe, who has been in business for one hundred years, which services a lot of small businesses. Creating this program where they are trying to recognize and bring some recognition to these businesses across the United States. It’s a wonderful program that has created a website: smallbusinessrevolution.org, where people can go on and they can nominate local business—anything from a pastry shop to a vet clinic. One of these businesses will win a $25,000 check, and the great thing is: the person presenting the check will be the person from the community who nominated them. We are going to profile one hundred businesses with success stories and documentaries it’s a great program.
TCC: How did you first get involved with this?
RH: We heard about the program… and I am always looking for new ways to give back to small businesses. It is one of the main reasons I do Shark Tank—it’s a great way to give back!
TCC: When you first began with your own small business, did you imagine you be using your platform to build up other entrepreneurs?
RH: No, not really. It kind of happened organically. No matter how big my business becomes, I still think of it as a small business. You’ve got to stay hungry, and you’ve got to keep going. So we always try to maintain that edge of being small—even though we’re not.
TCC: What was the most significant moment for you, in helping to propel you to where you are now in your career?
RH: Getting fired from my job, to start my first business. Because I wasn’t somebody like a Mark Cuban who knew he wanted to start a business. I just wanted to have a job, get by, and make a decent living. Then I got fired, had to make a mortgage payment, and that forced me to start a business—which was great! Some people are born into it, some people need to be pushed, and some just fall into it by accident.
TCC: You are used to being a TV personality, from your time on Shark Tank, but did you think you would add dancing to your long list of credits?
RH: No. My mom used to dream about me being on the show, and as soon as they asked me I did it. I never in a million years thought I would go eight weeks out of ten, so I am really proud of that. It has been a great experience.
TCC: This has already been an incredible year for you, but what more can we expect to see?
RH: We’re working with Deluxe Corporation on the small business initiative and then I have a small business of my own. We have a new season of Shark Tank in June, and a new show called Beyond the Tank. It’s a busy year!
TCC: Any surprises on this new season that we can expect?
RH: We know nothing about the entrepreneurs until they get there, but the producers assure us it’s going to be the best season yet!
TCC: What has been the best part of being involved with this show so far?
RH: Getting inspired. People say that we inspire them, but I have to tell you, when we sit there and see those businesses come in, and then we hear their stories; it’s unbelievably inspiring and motivating for all of us.