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Mark Cuban gave Deerfield dad some scratch for drawing cats

Steve Gadl'Shark Tank' contestant from Deerfield displays one his cdrawings.

Steve Gadlin, a "Shark Tank" contestant from Deerfield, displays one of his cat drawings.

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Updated: January 8, 2013 6:23AM

Steve Gadlin’s dive into the “Shark Tank” started with a short email.

“I draw stick-figure cats. Let me at ’em,” wrote the Skokie native who now lives in Deerfield.

Gadlin, a full-time web developer and part-time comedian, figured his missive might result in a humorous rejection letter he could show to his friends. Turns out he was aiming a little low.

Not only did Gadlin end up on the show, he got one of the sharks to bite on his offbeat idea to sell rudimentary feline art for $9.95 a pop on his website

Gadlin estimates he’s churned out upwards of 9,000 custom kitty pics since his Jan. 27 episode aired.

“As the holidays approach, it’s almost a second full-time job,” said Gadlin, 36, who gets home from work overseeing the web department at Weigel Broadcasting in Chicago, spends some time with the family and then locks himself away for a few hours to doodle cats. “It’s still not the type of business I’d be willing to lean on entirely with three kids and a mortgage.”

A longtime fixture on Chicago’s comedy scene, the Blewt! Productions founder helped create a WCIU-Channel 26 pilot, “Don’t Spit the Water!,” and several stage shows. He relied on his comedic chops to come up with a memorable song-and-dance pitch he performed for the sharks.

“I’m no stranger to getting up in front of people and acting like an idiot,” he said. “I was going out there with the goal of making the biggest fool of myself as I could. I thought I had zero chance of making a deal.”

Shark Mark Cuban ate it up, cutting Gadlin a check for $25,000 in exchange for a 33 percent stake in his offbeat company. Gadlin snuck in one more condition before they shook on air to seal the deal: Cuban would draw one out of every 1,000 cat pictures himself.

“He changed terms on that pretty quick before things got on paper,” Gadlin said, adding that the Dallas Mavs owner so far has created two cat pictures — and sold them for $1,000 apiece.

“He charges a little more,” Gadlin said about his billionaire business partner.

“I won’t pretend he’s using all of his time and energy on the cat-drawing business,” Gadlin added. “But he’ll pitch in with ideas and advice far more than you’d expect.”


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