For Drexel students and faculty who are avid fans of ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank,” they might have recognized a familiar face during a new Season 10 episode.
Former Drexel University student Kyle Bergman, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2012 and played on the men’s lacrosse team, appeared on Shark Tank to pitch his business “Swoveralls” in the episode that aired April 21.
Swoveralls, which are overalls made out of sweatpant material — a much softer, more comfortable material, were created by Bergman as a solution to a personal problem, he said.
“I just wanted a pair of sweatpant overalls — and they didn’t exist,” Bergman said. “It kind of started as a side project, gained more and more momentum and became a brand.”
His decision to start his own company as an entrepreneur came after years and years of work in the retail industry, which — although he did not study entrepreneurship — began during his time at Drexel, Bergman said.
“[As a Psychology student,] my first co-op was my first entrepreneurial venture,” Bergman said. “A friend of mine and I created a club lacrosse program and even a lacrosse tournament in the Philadelphia area.”
Bergman’s second and third co-op experiences were with a fashion photography company in Philadelphia and with a small tomato sauce company, respectively.
Leading up to his graduation from Drexel in 2012, Bergman knew he did not want to pursue a career in finance nor did he want to work as a lacrosse coach.
“It was my mom who suggested that I try my hand in the retail industry,” he said. “So I applied and was accepted into the Bloomingdale’s Executive Training program … learning about buying and merchandise planning.”
Following four years at Bloomingdale’s, Bergman joined Birchbox, which he defines as a subscription e-commerce company, and worked there for two years. While at Birchbox, Bergman began pursuing his MBA from New York University and started Swoveralls.
“It’s always been very hard for me to sit still,” he said. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Swoveralls took off, and in July 2018, Bergman was put in contact with one of Shark Tank’s casting producers through a connection he made while at Birchbox.
“There are three main ways you can get on Shark Tank,” Bergman said. “You can audition in person, you can apply online or you can, somehow, know someone who [has connections].”
Bergman was hired and flew out to film Shark Tank in September 2018. The experience, which fell into his lap, was incredible, he said, even though he didn’t land a deal.
“I was fortunate that I didn’t really need the money [from a deal with a shark] to survive,” Bergman said. “As I did my research and learned more about companies that [Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Daymond John] invested in … I became excited for the opportunity to work with one of them. But I wasn’t desperate, and it wasn’t business critical that I made a deal.”
Regardless, Bergman said the experience pitching on Shark Tank was invaluable for his business.
“The night that [the episode] aired, I had about 13,000 people visit my website, and in the week or so since it aired, I have had over 60,000 people visit my website,” he said. “It’s a really cool chapter that I can tell as part of my story.”
The high demand of buyers has caused Swoveralls to go onto a backorder. Those looking to purchase a pair of the original sweatpant overalls — in black, dark gray or navy blue — will have to wait six to eight weeks for their order to ship. Swoverall’s success so far has Bergman considering plans to expand, adding new styles.
“[There is also a] plan in the next six to 12 months … to be able to offer [customers] monthly, limited edition colors and designs that are crowd-sourced — that are based on what people are asking for,” Bergman said.
Bergman credits his success as an entrepreneur — all the while being a full-time student at NYU and a trainer at Orangetheory Fitness — to his diligence and determination. But Bergman says his time at Drexel certainly prepared him for the busy lifestyle he has currently.
“Playing lacrosse [at Drexel] and always having games and classes — I conditioned myself to always have a lot on my plate,” he said. “And it was through [Drexel’s] co-op program that I was able to have my first entrepreneurial experience. One of the things that I love about being able to tell my story is that I am just an average guy who isn’t afraid to work hard and take a risk.”
Any Drexel student or staff member who would like to contact Bergman is more than welcome to do so, he said. He can be reached at [email protected].