Simple but funny ideas can take you places. Steve Gadlin created an online business called “I Want to Draw a Cat For You”, where he sells stick figure drawings of cats. He somehow got the opportunity to pitch his niche business on Shark Tank and got a deal with Mark Cuban. As of 2023, I Want to Draw a Cat For You is worth an estimated $200,000.
About the Founder
Steve Gadlin was born on February 27, 1976, in Illinois, United States. He got a degree at Miami University in creative writing. Later on, he tried his hand at various professions.
He started out as a web developer, working for companies such as LifeServ, Heitman, and Chicago Public Radio. The same companies eventually promoted him to become a web manager. Steve later co-created the call-in comedy show Talkin’ Funny on CAN21. Furthermore, he became a writer, comedian, and businessman.
Founding the Company
The Chicago native experimented if he could successfully run an online business with a random idea. He thought of selling custom stick figure cats initially as a joke, but he ultimately built a website for it.
The site was officially launched in 2011, originally it was just a PayPal button and a YouTube video. To order users need to pay around $10 and describe a cat and scenario for him to draw. Steve revealed he could draw around 25 custom stick cat figures in an hour and 1,000 in a week.
Because the business was just him drawing cats, it wasn’t very scalable. However, he also had problems getting enough orders and he had sold 1,200 cat drawings in a year. So, he believed a seasoned investor could help him reach his full capacity.
Shark Tank Appearance
In 2012, Steve featured on the third season of Shark Tank before it became a household show. The quirky entrepreneur was looking for an investment of $10,000 for 25% of the company. He used humor by giving a musical presentation and dropping dance moves while explaining his business.
He made all the Sharks laugh, even billionaire Mark Cuban was dancing in his seat. After a long introduction, Steve immediately got down to business. He stated in his pitch, “there is an economy for stupid and I am overflowing with it.” With the universal appeal of his product, he was hoping it would become the next pet rock.
Kevin O’Leary expressed how he seldom invests in artists, so he opted out. Robert Herjavec made the same decision with concerns about profit margins. Despite this, Mark Cuban did not hesitate to offer $25,000 for 33%, and Steve happily accepted.
After Shark Tank
After the deal closed with Mark, Steve’s website traffic skyrocketed and got a huge bump in orders from Shark Tank fans. By 2014, he had already sold 18,794 custom drawings. As agreed, Cuban pitched in and drew 10 cats!
He also started making cat-themed novelty items like t-shirts. However, in 2015, the founder stepped away from the business as he was busy filming a new show, Steve Gadlin’s Star Makers and the comedy program Talkin’ Funny.
In 2021, he restarted the business and is now selling each piece for $10. On his website, Steve confirmed he will be drawing one cat per day in 2022 and all money collected from drawing cats will be donated to a non-profit organization.
In an interview in July 2021, Steve shared he had sold 21,110 drawings. This would mean the company has made over $200,000. Still, his long break slowed down the growth of the business. This is why I Want to Draw a Cat For You is valued at just $200,000.