How a QR Code and a Big Thinker Hacked Shark Tank…By Accident

Garrett Gee Pitches SCAN and Hacks Shark TankURLs Are Banned. QR Codes Are OK?

Did you see that recent episode of Shark Tank where a guy named Garrett Gee pitched his new iOS and Android app, Scan? I loved that kid. His pitch was superb.

He was looking for $1M for 5% of his company. He knew his numbers, was confident in his valuation, and showed off his product very, very well.

If you remember that episode, which you can view in full in the video below, you’ll recall that Garrett had a freakin’ gargantuan QR code on display as part of his demo. I couldn’t help but wonder why the hell he used a QR code of that ridiculous size.

After doing some research, I found out that Shark Tank doesn’t allow guests to show a URL on screen during their 15 minutes on air. In fact, according to TechCrunch, “Gee and his team had to design a special version of their logo that omitted the ‘.me’ from ‘’ just to go on.”

Here’s How Garrett Gee Accidentally Hacked Shark Tank

While investigating, I realized why Gee used a ridiculously large QR code. I’m not a fan of using QR codes but I have tested them and used some in client promotions, sparingly, a few years ago.

However, Gee’s new app, makes use of some technology that didn’t exist when I was using QR codes. It’s so cool that it’s making me want to get back into using this technology. Before we go on, it’s important to remember that QR codes click to a website and that you can change the URL and its content at any time.

As it turns out, months after Gee taped the episode, and before it actually aired, he got that proverbial light bulb over his head and had a killer idea. This idea was due to the fact that Scan had recently rolled out a new feature which allows a business to point users to their Instagram accounts – which allows for Instagram Follows, Likes, and easy subscriptions.

As I said, I love this kid Garrett Gee. He’s a young, logical, creative, big thinker that knows his stuff. So while in testing, Gee switched up the code and redirected the QR code’s destination URL to point to his Instagram feed. Awesome huh!?!?

But then guess what happened? Or so Gee says this is what happened. This is where I start to, sort of, love Gee more. He said he forgot about the URL switch.

So now, when the episode airs, the QR code actually leads to a real live URL and Instagram Feed. But…will anyone actually scan it on the television with their smartphones? What do you think?

“My intention wasn’t to ‘hack’ their system or break their rules,” Gee says, “but…to my surprise, as well as everyone else’s, people actually scanned it.”

“The next morning, Gee found over 3,100 scans waiting for him in the dashboard, and a host of new Instagram subscribers as well. Users began commenting on his photos, saying that they’d downloaded the app (despite no download links being shown) during the episode and scanned the code — jumping to his Instagram feed.”

Garrett Gee Hacks Shark Tank

Through the magic of today’s on-demand technology, which Gee and the rest of us obviously embrace, people continued to subscribe and download his app as they watched the episode on their DVR’s or on YouTube.

SCAN's Shark Tank Stats

The Wrap

I love this story. For so many reasons.

Read more on Garrett Gee’s Shark Tank Hack on TechCrunch.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the show, the SCAN app, or on Garrett Gee. Let me know in the comments below.

If you haven’t seen this episode, enjoy it in full here. Gee’s segment comes up at 22:25.


Images via TechCrunch