Backstage: Good Morning America


When both your brother and your boyfriend are entrepreneurs, you quickly learn that there are a lot of ups and downs involved with trying to start your own company.  Whenever an obstacle arises, it must be taken in stride – it’s par for the course.  On the flip side, whenever a piece of good news is delivered, it must be taken with due caution.

So, when Matt received a weekend e-mail of a potential opportunity to appear on Good Morning America, we didn’t immediately jump for joy, which is a very difficult thing for me to refrain from because, at any given moment, I am a cauldron of intense emotion. After Matt spoke with the producer at ABC the following Monday, though, things became a bit more real. We had our first order of action: film a 30-second, demonstrative clip of Matt with the Instagate.

Oh, and send it back to her by 5PM so she can review it before pitching it to a roundtable…

It was 2PM at this point.

I had serendipitously taken off from work that day, so I was free to play the role of videographer, director and stress coordinator. We condensed a script, touched up the prototype in his apartment and ran over to Central Park to catch the last 90 minutes of sunlight. After about 37 takes, a Seinfeld-like standoff with an industrial lawnmower and some technical issues, we finally had the clip. 

After 2 days of further correspondence and a whole list of other tasks, we finally got the news that Matt and his product, the Instagate: Tailgate-in-A-Box, would be featured as 1 of 4 finalists on Friday’s segment, with a voting wrench thrown into the mix that meant only the top 2 contenders could actually present their product live on air to Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner.

Que the excitement, nerves and coffee.

After a very long 36 hours, the big day had finally arrived and I was luckily able to join Matt as a guest. At 5:15 a.m., a fancy driver picked us up and took us to the middle of Times Square, ABC studios. We then took the largest elevator I’ve ever been in up a few flights.

We were then taken to a green room where all of the other finalists and guests were. Around 5:45 Matt & co. were moved elsewhere for "make-up and hair," while I stayed behind and played nice with the other folks' guests, chugging coffee and gazing out over the odd-looking, empty streets.

Back inside the green room, I practiced my habit of taking unnecessary pictures of unimportant things.

I should make clear that, while I was clearly screwing around the whole time, the actual producers and staff who run these large news networks hustle. When they say 24/7, they mean it. For instance, we met a guy who takes a 2:15 AM bus every morning to get into the studio and direct crew and productions until around noon every day. He’s been doing it for 26 years now in various shifts. We got to chatting and spoke of all the famous people he’s met and all the intricate details involved in setting up shop. It was an eye-opener. 

Next up was a rehearsal downstairs around 6:30. Matt and the other finalists had gone from make-up directly to the downstairs studio to do a dry-run. When I finally got word, I traversed my way downstairs and let myself into the studio just in time to catch this great “behind-the-scenes” shot.

Later, when they were downstairs doing prop setup around 7:15 a.m., I again let myself into the studio only to find that they were shooting live news. It was not, in fact, where prop setup was taking place. I was promptly asked to leave... Oops!

Not to be discouraged, I did some further exploring and finally found him in the basement. 

After a morning spent wandering around ABC studios full of anticipation, 7:45 AM finally hit. We scrambled downstairs and out the door into the live outdoor set for the teaser portion of show. At 8:00 a.m. each of the 4 contestants was to hold his/her product and their number for viewers to vote on them.

The next twenty minutes (time between teaser/voting and when they announced the top 2 finalists at 8:20 a.m.) crawled by as we waited inside. Matt, true to form, remained calm and seemingly unbothered, listening and talking to the producers and stage directors who were doling out directions. I, on the other hand, was so tense that I was sneakily trying to stretch my calves against the wall so as to avoid the anxious onset of a charlie-horse.

What can I say? We balance each other well.

Anyway, the time had come. All 4 contestants were lined up and anchor Lara Spencer began chatting with Lori Grenier live. A drumroll was requested for the announcement of the two finalists, and we all know what happened next! Matt made it to the “finals,” presented a 30-second pitch to about 6 million viewers and Lori Grenier awarded him the GMA Shark Tank trophy!

Afterward, Matt had the opportunity to sit down with Lori one-on-one for a half hour or so. Only time will tell what is in store next...

‘Twas a very happy day indeed :-).