Best Shark Tank salespitch ever: The $300 iPhone/Android drone

October 30, 2015, 4:55 PM UTC
Courtesy of xCraft

In case you missed it, a young aerospace engineer and a veteran software developer taught a master class in entrepreneurship on prime time television last week.

The setting was ABC’s Shark Tank, a popular reality show built on the premise that there’s rich entertainment value in watching would-be entrepreneurs make fools of themselves before a panel of skeptical celebrity investors led by Mark Cuban.

The great fun in last week’s episode was watching JD Claridge, founder of a startup called xCraft, and his partner, veteran software developer Charles Manning, flip the premise. By the end the show, the celebrity investors were falling over themselves for a chance to buy in.

It’s all here in the YouTube videos attached below.

The product. Four propellers and a plastic shell that turn a smartphone—iPhone or Android—into a self-navigating drone that can follow you down the street, hovering just over your head, shooting video. That’s something I’d buy for Christmas.

The pitch. The highlight (at the 33:54-minute mark)—is when Claridge pivots from the drone he walked in with—the $1,800 X PlusOne—to the one in his back pocket. Unfolding the propellers and slotting in his iPhone he explains that smartphones today are already equipped with the most expensive components in a drone—gyroscopes, accelerometers, GPS, cameras. That allows xCraft to bring PhoneDrone’s projected retail price down to about $300.

NOTE: If YouTube is missing, you can go to the authorized (and ad-laden) ABC version here.

The deal. Manning shows how it’s done, pulling together a Shark Tank syndicate on the fly. Watch for the moment when it dawns on Cuban that the pitch may be too good to be true.

The show raised xCraft’s valuation to $6 million in the space of 12 minutes and breathed new life into the PhoneDrone’s moribund KickStarter campaign.

“I’m just amazed,” says Claridge. “We got more money than what we asked for—three times as much—and we got all five sharks on board.”

Link: ABC’s Shark Tank Season 7 Episode 5.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed. You might also want to subscribe to Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology.

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