Dave Heimbuch is an entrepreneur who took his company Hidrent to the sharks on “Shark Tank” to see if he could get one of the sharks to invest in his company during the November 12, 2021 episode of the hit ABC show.
The episode synopsis revealed, “an entrepreneur from Celina, Texas, pitches his revolutionary online tool to help off-duty firefighters make additional income while helping their community.”
The entrepreneur pitched his company to sharks Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec and guest shark Nirav Tolia, founder of NextDoor.
Here’s what you need to know about Hidrent on “Shark Tank:”
1. Marrying Into a Family of Firefighters Inspired Dave Heimbuch to Start Hidrent
Dave Heimbuch spent the majority of his career in Chicago before relocating to Dallas, Texas. He isn’t a firefighter — but many members of his spouse’s family are. In an interview with Heavy, Dave said, “I was having a conversation one day with my brother-in-law, who is a firefighter, about some home repairs I was having done. I told him about how I used this really cool app to find a contractor.”
His brother-in-law enlightened him to the reality of firefighters and their extra job, saying, “Dave, I know how to do that type of work. In fact, anyone at our station could have done that. All firefighters have side hustles.”
A lightbulb went off in Dave’s head and he said to his brother-in-law, “Really? So how do you guys market your services, because if I had known I could have hired an off-duty firefighter I would have done that instead.” He said, ‘I don’t know…word of mouth. We’re firefighters, not marketers.’
Dave thought there had to already be something out there helping firefighters find a side gig. He looked and looked but there wasn’t. So Dave, with the help of his brother-in-law and other firefighters built Hidrent. The company launched in May 2017.
2. Dave Heimbuch Has a Background in Sales and Marketing
Before founding Hidrent, Dave Heimbuch worked in digital marketing and sales in Chicago. In an interview with Heavy, he said, I’ve worked for several successful ad tech startups, and I was always the first person hired in Chicago and charged with growing sales, hiring a team and opening an office.”
After graduating from the University of Nebraska with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Dave worked for a number of companies and startups including About.com, Value Click Media, Photobucket and Shazam, his LinkedIn profile reveals.
Dave spoke to Heavy about his time at Shazam saying, “I was the first person hired in Chicago to open up their Central region office back in 2011. I loved working for startups and knew that one day, with the right idea, that I could do it myself.”
3. He Tackled the Challenges of Growing His Company Head-on
Founding a company is a challenge all in itself. Growing a company is a whole new challenge. Growing Hidrent gave Dave Heimbuch a particular challenge. In his interview with Heavy, he said, “The biggest challenge that I’ve faced building the company has been trying to match the demand with the supply…or the supply with the demand.”
Hidrent is a two-sided marketplace. There’s the side of the homeowner who needs help and there’s the side of the firefighters who need to sign up for the service. Dave said, “We need to have the firefighters sign up before we start advertising for jobs to be submitted, and if that takes too long then the firefighters might lose interest. We definitely can’t have homeowners submitting jobs if there’s nobody available to accept them, so it becomes a juggling act.”
Hidrent’s website says, “Firefighters are uniquely qualified to continue serving their community during their time off. Most firefighters work 24 hours on duty, followed by 48 hours off duty. Hiring an off-duty firefighter will supplement their income and leverage their skills and expertise – while you get the help you need from someone you can trust to get the job done right.”
4. Hidrent Made the Best of a Bad Situation During the Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic proved to be difficult for a number of businesses and industries. Dave Heimbuch told Heavy, “When the pandemic began, I had to take a close look at our model because I wasn’t sure if people would any longer let firefighters, or anyone for that matter, into their homes to complete small tasks.”
He added, “We were one of those companies that actually made the best of a terrible situation.”
He did that by focusing all of Hidrent’s attention on essential businesses. Hidrent’s firefighters were busier than ever during the pandemic working with movers, construction companies, and even a COVID testing center, Dave told Heavy.
5. ‘Shark Tank’ Was a Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity
Dave Heimbuch said he was extremely nervous during his “Shark Tank” presentation. He told Heavy, “My experience on Shark Tank was a lot of fun. Granted, I was extremely nervous but I really went into it thinking this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and that I should just relax, soak it in and enjoy it.”
He said the sharks were friendly and there wasn’t much friction during his presentation. He said, “I have given the investor pitch for my company hundreds of times, so I just tried to keep it professional. I almost made it to the very end before I made a mistake and then some shenanigans ensued, but we’ll have to tune in to see if they air it.” We asked Dave what the mistake was. He said, “Let’s just say that it’s never a good idea to call someone by the wrong name.”
Like other founders who go on “Shark Tank,” Dave found that he also suffers from “tank amnesia.” He said, “To this day I still have a limited memory of the entire conversation. I remember bits and pieces, but there’s no way I could put it all together. The crazy thing about the show is that you talk for a long time, but only 5-7 minutes of the conversation airs. I’ll probably never know exactly what I said unless I see it on TV.”