In early February, Daymond John was preparing to launch his latest company, his spin on a coworking space he named Blueprint + co.
He’s looking to the future: Going forward, the business could allow the Shark Tank investor to leverage the influence he’s established over the last eight years as a “Shark” long after the series, or his participation in it, inevitably ends.
A few days before the Blueprint launch, Business Insider stopped by the 17,000-square-foot space filled with new office furniture as contractors with power tools wrapped up small projects.
Blueprint comprises the two top floors and a 3,000-square-foot roof deck in a 14-floor high-rise in Manhattan’s Garment Distric. It can hold 150 employees or 300 people total, for special events. Downstairs is John’s company The Shark Group, formerly known as Shark Branding, a small business he founded during the second season of “Shark Tank” when he realized he needed to formalize management of his growing portfolio of investments.
Since John moved into this building a year ago, he’s seen it as an evolving home base, with the perk of having a beautiful view of the Empire State Building. It’s a place where he can develop his own businesses and foster relationships with entrepreneurs, both upstarts and veterans.
He has lofty ambitions for the location, telling us that he wants his center to be like the old MTV Times Square studio, where musicians, celebrities, and producers were always making exciting entertainment in the heart of the city – except his will be all around entrepreneurship.
“We’re taking the whole building by the time we’re done,” John said.
From FUBU to Shark
In 2008, John was 39 years old and ready for a change.
He had achieved notoriety and wealth through his clothing brand FUBU, which he started from nothing out of his mother’s house in Hollis, Queens in 1992. Though it brought in over $300 million in revenue at its peak, its popularity faded in the early 2000s. He contracted himself as a marketing adviser and acquired stakes in about 10 clothing companies, but after the Great Recession hit, only a couple were actually bringing him money.
It would not only bring him back into the spotlight, but it would allow him to move beyond the clothing industry.
John wrote in his 2016 book “The Power of Broke” that he lost $750,000 on the first season of “Shark Tank,” due to a combination of bad investments and wasted money on consultants he hired to help him manage the portfolio (which is why he then hired his own employees for the company that became The Shark Group). But after this adjustment period, his participation has proven to have reignited his career.
Over the past eight years, John has become a household name to millions of Americans and has become a savvier investor, with a hand in about 60 small businesses. He noted that some of his best investments now are things he never would have dreamed of getting involved in back when he was laser-focused on FUBU – he likes to point out his stake in Bubba-Q’s Boneless Ribs as a prime example.
It’s why he sees now as a perfect time to kick off Blueprint. It’s a way to leverage the influence and connections he’s enhanced over the course of “Shark Tank” to establish a launch pad for the next phase of his career.
Mentor and student
John told us that his idea for Blueprint came out of “necessity.”
He found himself with a wide variety of “Shark Tank” businesses to which he could teach general lessons about how they should grow a nascent business, but found himself wanting to learn more about industries he had no experience with beyond investing. He had his protegés but wanted teachers, and it got him thinking that there was a gap in the market for co-working spaces for more seasoned entrepreneurs.
There’s an application to get space at Blueprint. John and his team are looking for companies bringing in a minimum of roughly $250,000 in revenue a year, and who want access to other growing companies, either to toss around ideas or collaborate. Blueprint makes money through desk rental fees and rents out its roof to members and non-members alike.
Basic access costs $275 monthly, access with added advisory perks runs $700 monthly, and getting dedicated desk space comes in at $1,000 monthly. Contracts are signed for a minimum of three months, and prices are competitive with what coworking space leader WeWork charges for similar access arrangements, minus the mentorship and other perks, across its New York locations.