Season 12 episode 25 of ABC’s ‘Shark Tank‘ witnessed Don Lessem and Valerie Jones present their company, Dino Don. Named after Lessem’s nickname, Dino Don creates life-sized dinosaur exhibits for zoos, institutions, and the entertainment industry. While the concept is pretty fascinating, the unorthodox yet interesting product warranted a second look. Well, here’s everything we could find out about Dino Don!
Dino Don: Who Are They and What Do They Do?
Apparently, dinosaur scholar and enthusiast Don Lessem was completely captivated by dinosaurs throughout his growing years. The passion never fizzled out, so he was determined to make a career of it. Therefore, in 1993, Lessem started his company. During his pitch on the reality show, Lessem claimed that his aim was to make lifelike recreations of dinosaurs that could move on their own. But he refused to rely on 3D sketches and instead visited numerous dig sites in person. He meticulously studied dinosaur bones and fossils in order to get a clear idea about the now-extinct creatures.
However, the mechanics proved to be too complicated. So initially, Lessem took help from manufacturers in Zigong, China, to perfect his animatronic models. His models were a massive success, and Lessem was able to sell quite a few of them to popular zoos. He was also hired to work on the movie sets of several high-budget productions, such as ‘Jurassic Park.’ Soon, museums and educational institutions also began approaching him to create models of different types of dinosaurs.
At present, Lessem is considered an expert on the topic of dinosaurs and has visited almost every dig site known to date. Additionally, he has authored at least 50 books that deal with everything from dinosaurs to their habitats and even natural history. Moreover, it is evident how meticulous he is since the models are quite lifelike.
Having served as a consultant on several popular movies and Disney and Universal’s theme parks, Lessem can proudly claim that his business is the only one that can provide such high-quality models. Apart from reconstructing behavioral scenes, Lessem even undertakes commissioned work and creates customized models for clients. Although the models cost a handsome amount, the company has impressive sales figures to back its dedication.
Where Is Dino Don Now?
At present, Dino Don exhibits can be found all around the world, with one of the most popular among them being the Philadelphia Zoo’s ‘Big Time’ exhibition. Besides, the company takes pride in its extensive as well as detailed exhibits. Apparently, it is the only company in all of Europe, North America, and Asia to create such incredible presentations. Apart from running the company from his Media, Pennsylvania, home, Don Lessem’s expertise led him to collaborate with Disney on most of their theme parks and even work for popular shows like Discovery Channel’s ‘Nova Documentaries.’
Interestingly, while the Covid-19 pandemic shut down several businesses, Lessem’s company thrived as he presented sales figures north of $1.8 million in 2020. Don Lessem and Valerie Jones’ foray into ‘Shark Tank’ was also quite profitable as they were able to sign a deal with Mark Cuban, who offered $500,000 for 25% of the company. Ever since the deal with Cuban, sales for Dino Don skyrocketed, and the company returned sales figures of around $4 million for 2021.
Moreover, Lessem and Valerie announced that in 2022 they would be undertaking a traveling dinosaur roadshow of massive scale in Florida that is expected to bring $10 million in revenue. Last but not least, Don Lessem filmed an educative documentary titled ‘The Dinosaur Factory,’ which has been given an estimated release date of Fall 2022. People interested in commissioning an exhibit can get in touch with Lessem or his company through the website. At the pace that Dino Don is growing, we are sure that the future holds exciting things for the business.