Business inventor from River Falls to navigate shark-infested waters
Soon the back room of downtown Johnnie’s Bar will fill with family and friends of Vance Zahorski. The 1995 River Falls High School graduate and his loved ones will be getting together to watch a very special TV show.
Zahorski is going to be featured on Shark Tank on Friday night, Nov. 18.
He said he’s very excited to watch the episode.
“There’s some very entertaining things that happened,” he said. “I am definitely excited to be on the show, and I think it’s going to be pretty surreal, because I’ve been a huge fan of Shark Tank from, well, before I thought I would be starting a business.
“And to actually see myself on a show that I’ve watched for years and years...It's going to be wild.”
About two years ago, Zahorski started a kickstarter online fundraising campaign to help start his business, LineCutterz.
LineCutterz are adjustable rings that contain a guarded blade, which provide a way for people to cut things like fishing line without carrying a knife or scissors with them.
Zahorski had the idea for LineCutterz after a near-accident while fishing on a Florida beach.
A shark swallowed the hook and Zahorski had to run about 10 yards back to his tackle box for his knife. It had fallen off the top of the box, and Zahorski nearly stepped on it.
That idea stuck with Zahorski. On the long drive home, he brainstormed ideas for a way to cut line that could be kept on his person, even if he didn’t have pockets and without risk of dropping it.
He made his first prototype with welding putty, and the floss-cutting device from a dental floss container.
Zahorski said LineCutterz has certainly grown since then.
Describing his business as his “American Dream,” Zahorski said he’s bet everything he had on that dream. He even ended up selling his house to help finance his dream.
His journey onto Shark Tank started at a fishing expo in Houston, Texas. A friend there told Zahorski he was going to an audition for Shark Tank.
Zahorski made the decision to leave the trade show and pitch his business idea for Shark Tank at the Dallas open call.
Though only a small percentage of those who pitch ideas are accepted to the show, Zahorski was confident about his chances.
“I just pretty much knew that I would be on there,” he said. “I’d been telling my wife and family that I’d be on Shark Tank for three years.”
It was a long process between that first audition to being on the actual show.
“When I found out I made it through that first stage, I was ecstatic,” Zahorski said. “I remember jumping up and down, and my wife was going pretty crazy.”
Zahorski’s family members, including wife Jennifer, father Roger, mom LeRae, and brother Cullen, have all been very supportive, he said.
Because Zahorski has been a big Shark Tank fan for so many years, he said he felt prepared for the show, at least somewhat. He also said he learned a lot.
“I learned that I can perform under an intense amount of pressure,” Zahorski said. “You really have to know your numbers, you have to know every aspect of your business inside and out, so it really helped me get in tune with my business.”
In fact, Zahorski said, the whole experience was one of the best educational experiences he could have had.
“I learned more than I could've ever possibly learned from reading a book or an online blog or any of that stuff,” Zahorski said. “Truly, I learned more than I could have learned in any other avenue.”
The episode featuring Zahorski will air Friday, Nov. 18. Zahorski and his family will host a viewing party in the back room of Johnnie’s.
Learn more about LineCutterz at linecutterz.com. The Shark Tank episode featuring Zahorski can be seen on ABC (channel 5) at 8 p.m. Nov. 18.