We hook a real-life Shark Tank winner.
Uwchlan’s Dr. Jim Lewis has had a remarkable career as a forensic pathologist, working behind the scenes on some of the country’s most notorious crimes, from the O.J. Simpson trial to the murder of JonBenét Ramsey. More recently, he earned accolades of a different sort when his Wall Rx captured the interest of four out of the five investors on ABC’s Shark Tank. After three years and more than 400 attempts, the 60-year-old serial inventor finally nailed it with a product that patches holes in drywall with a simple application.
MLT: Will you ever come down from your Shark Tank high?
JL: It’s still so unbelievable. You want to invent something that’s going to help people. How many people get to do that? I’m really fortunate.
MLT: Have you always had an inventive imagination?
JL: Always, always. It’s the greatest blessing and the greatest curse a person can have, because you’re always thinking about how to improve things or how to come up with something new. I’ve had a lot of crazy inventions. None of them went anywhere.
MLT: Did you grow up in Chester County?
JL: I was born in one of the worst areas of the world: North Philly. If you looked up the word “slum” or “ghetto,” you’d see
me on the steps in front of our house. That’s how bad it was. I saw so many horrid, crazy things. At the same time, I had parents who made sure I studied. I learned the secret of how
to fight crime and gangs, how to keep yourself alive, and how to prevent anything bad from happening to you. The secret? Go to the library. No one would find me there; it was like garlic to a vampire. I hung out at the library five or six days a week, and I was probably one of only two kids there at any given time.
MLT: So you became a brainiac to survive?
JL: Exactly. One day in junior high, I got stopped by one of
the most notorious gangs in the neighborhood. They beat me up, took my coat, and said they were going to do this every
day. I said to the head of the gang, “I’ll make a deal with you.
I’ll do your homework every day, and I’ll make sure it’s correct. I’ll give it to you every day as long as I can pass through here and go to school.” He was two years ahead of me, so I not only had to do my homework, but I had to study two grades ahead of me. This lasted for two years. I studied to stay alive.
MLT: The Shark Tank producers get inquiries from more than 75,000 inventors each season. What was it about Wall Rx that caught their attention?
JL: You must be able to understand the product in less than five seconds; it must solve a problem; it must have mass
appeal; it must be affordable; and it must be easy to use.
My product hit all five requirements.
MLT: What was the most intimidating part of being on
JL: You have to go out and stand there for two minutes
without saying a word, and the sharks just stare you down while you’re being taped. There’s no pre-tape when you pitch your product—it’s live.
MLT: You made the final deal with Robert Herjavec, but you’re now working with another shark. What happened?
JL: When you get off the show, sharks can still call you and
negotiate. We filmed the show in September 2013, and I just inked a deal with another one last week. I’m so excited to be working with her, but I’m not sure if I can say her name or not.
MLT: Will you ever quite your day job?
JL: As soon as I can. [Laughs] I love what I do, I just don’t
want to do it to make a living anymore.
MLT: What’s your best advice for fellow inventors?
JL: Give up on that stupid idea and move on to something