UI grads hope celebrity video chat businesses will attract sharks | Film-television

CHAMPAIGN – Two University of Illinois graduates will find out tonight whether some of the nation’s best-known investors will be getting into their celebrity video chat business as they pitch their pitch to the “Shark Tank” team. from ABC.

The episode featuring Quiante and Keithan Hedrick airs at 7:00 p.m. tonight.

On the Hedricks platform, called Candi, users can pay to host virtual meetups with celebrities and influencers.

“We built this business without any prior connection to Hollywood,” Keithan said. “We didn’t know any stars, we didn’t have any agent friends, we managed to break into one of the most sought-after industries in the world through hard work.”

The Hedricks, now based in Chicago, were on campus not too long ago. Quiante graduated in 2014, while her high school sweetheart Keithan graduated from UI College of Law a year later.

Quiante is the CEO of Candi. She was several months pregnant when the business first launched in April 2020.

Twenty-two months later, their site is selling video chat appearances with more than 300 celebrities and influencers, including former NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis and 10-time Grammy Award-winning singer Chaka Khan. .

“The first ‘yes’ is really surprising,” Quiante said of the recruitment process. “It’s like, ‘I know I believe in my business, but they believe in it too.'”

Quiante recalled a memorable Mother’s Day message when Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Mya first agreed to be a part of Candi. Keithan walked into the living room singing one of the R&B superstar’s hits.

The couple couldn’t divulge anything about the outcome of tonight’s episode, although it was previously revealed that the guest shark is comedian Kevin Hart.

What they said they tried to communicate through their pitch: “Imagine what we could do with more capital and resources,” Keithan said.

The idea was born after the couple watched reaction videos to Cameo, an app where celebrities record special messages for paying fans.

It was a business pivot after the couple’s first foray, InstaSpeakers, an on-demand live translation app. The pandemic “eviscerated their business model overnight” since their primary customers were travelers to the United States, Keithan said. Candi’s idea percolated in late 2019 but came to the fore once the pandemic forced everything at bay.

The Hedricks have two sons, a 7-year-old and a 1-year-old. Their eldest harassed them for the results of tonight’s show “more than anyone”.

“We can’t even tell him,” Keithan said.

Every time they come back to Champaign-Urbana, there is a place they immediately want to visit.

“Green Street,” Keithan said. “Specifically, Burrito King.”

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