It was June 2013. Bruno Francois was excited for his appearance on Shark Tank. He hoped to gain access to Mark Cuban’s app expertise and Lori Greiner’s inventive strengths. “I wanted to find some kind of partnership, not for driving my business but for advisement,” Francois says. “Mark was my top choice. And Lori does more of the design, manufacturing and distribution of hardware work, which is good for my inventing side.”
What he actually got was far more than he bargained for.
The first surprise was $500,000 in funding from investors Cuban and Greiner in exchange for a combined 15 percent company share. Since he had already bootstrapped his first app, Cycloramic Studio 360 Panorama, he thought he could get by without funding. Obviously, though, Cuban and Greiner believed in Francois’s inventive mind and wanted to give him a financial boost.
The other surprise was how much attention the Cycloramic app garnered during Francois’s time on Shark Tank. “We saw a little increase in activity shortly before the show as the companies and preview were announced,” Francois says. “As soon as our segment started, the downloads skyrocketed.”
He wasn’t kidding; during his 12 minutes on Shark Tank, which aired on January 31, 2014, the app was downloaded 660,000 times. Within just one hour after the show, the app had drawn another 100,000 downloads.
If you haven’t tried it yet, the Cycloramic app could be worth the $1.99 it’s currently selling for in the iTunes store. It activates the vibrator to spin the phone on a flat smooth surface, an ingenious technique that allows for hands-free, 360-degree panoramic pictures. To date, the app has been downloaded around 8.5 million times.
Francois’s newest app is called Selfie360, which, as you might have guessed, allows for panoramic selfies. In the first week, the free app drew 60,000 downloads. Since the app’s release, Francois has shifted his focus to his newest project, a levitating iPhone5 platform for hands-free FaceTime chatting. “The phone can rotate and follow you, and the person on the other [end of the] line can control what they’re seeing,” Francois explains. It’s still in the prototype phase, but it definitely has potential.
It’ll take time to see whether Selfie360 and the newest prototype take off the way Cycloramic has, but for now, Francois says he’s content just to keep working on new tech projects.