Southern California is a bustling area for entrepreneurs. It’s no wonder then, how so many Orange County businesses make it onto the highly successful ABC series, “Shark Tank,” which is currently in its 10th season.
Finding the right pitch, having all the financials in place, showing charisma and confidence – these are just some of the factors that will cause one or more of the Sharks to “bite”, or invest in the contestant’s idea.
In some instances, things like showing the ability to work tirelessly for their company and having a compelling backstory helps drawn in the Sharks as well.
“I think Shark Tank attracts entrepreneurs from Orange County because that area is becoming known for several start-ups,” said casting supervisor, Mindy Zemrak.
“With the rise of Silicon Beach spreading amongst West Los Angeles, it’s only natural that start-ups and entrepreneurs are starting to pop up in Irvine and Orange County. Irvine has become a hotspot for tech start-ups and I have no doubt that we will continue to see more companies come from O.C. on the show.”
Irving Weekly’s Susan Hornik checked in with several O.C. companies to see how they are doing since their “Shark Tank” episode aired.
The Bouquet Bar, Irvine
Description: Launched in January 2017, The Bouquet Bar is an upscale, customized gifting experience company. On the website, you can choose one of their attractive boxes, adding in chocolates, flowers, candies or teas.
The Deal: Mark Cuban offered $150,000 for 20 percent of the company.
Latest News: The business has been doing really well since Bouquet Bar’s launch, said Sal Aziz, chief marketing officer and co-founder. “We have grown 10x every year and are continuing on that path. Plus, we have expanded our product offerings to over 47 gifting items and introduced our two-piece box called the Shot Box.”
Life lesson learned from being on “Shark Tank”: “Make sure you are ready for anything. Everything from media outlets to overwhelming fan support and orders. Luckily we have an amazing team and were prepared for the orders, but we were a little overwhelmed with the amazing fan support in the form of calls and emails.”
Working with their Shark: “Mark Cuban is an amazing person! Very direct and honest. We love working with him and his team because they have helped us open so many doors and have really assisted us in our growth process and future planning.”
Guardian Bikes, Irvine
Description: A kids bike brand equipped with Guardian Bikes’ patented SureStop braking technology, which ensures a very safe ride.
The Deal: Mark Cuban gave co-founders Kyle Jansen and Brian Riley $500,000 for 15 percent of the business.
Latest News: Since the show, Jansen and Riley stopped licensing the SureStop technology and put their focus on making safer children’s bikes using their technology. “Before the deal with Cuban, the company was making $300,000 in sales per year and now we are on track to hit $2 million in revenue,” said Riley.
All of their sales are through eCommerce, which they believe is a better experience for families. “In August, with Cuban’s help, we launched a partnership with Amazon to make Guardian Bikes the destination for safer bikes,” Riley said.
What was it like being on the show? “It was everything you could imagine – exciting, scary, thrilling, funny, but mostly it was intense. When you have five Sharks with strong personalities and 8 million people watching you pitch them, it’s not your typical investment pitch,” Riley said.
“The amount of great questions they asked and how fast they dissected our business was also impressive, since they don’t know anything about you before you walk in. It was definitely an amazing experience that we will never forget.”
Life Lesson Learned: “That investors can have completely different viewpoints on the best business model for a company. When Kevin O’Leary offered us a deal, he wanted us to completely stop selling Guardian Bikes and focus all of our attention on licensing our SureStop technology,” remembered Riley.
“At one point, he even said he wanted to ‘take Guardian out back and shoot it.’ On the other hand, Mark Cuban completely saw our vision with Guardian Bikes, because as a parent with young kids, he understood how much parents care about keeping their kids safe. It was hilarious watching them fight back and forth with each other. In the end, we got Mark Cuban as a partner, who was the Shark we wanted all along.”
Working with their Shark: “The question everyone wants to know! In your mind, you think someone like him wouldn’t have enough time for someone like me, but you can tell that he actually cares about the companies he’s working with,” added Jansen.
“One of the things we appreciate most about that is that he cares about learning and being involved,” Jansen noted. “He sees so many similar situations that can be applicable to a whole other company.”
“I remember one time Brian emailed him a question after midnight, Mark responded in two minutes, then asked a follow-up question at 6:30 in the morning. Either he didn’t sleep, or he was dreaming about Guardian Bikes!”
Shark Wheel, Lake Forest
Description: The Shark Wheel is the reinvention of a skateboard wheel, which offers a faster ride and better traction on all kinds of terrain.
The Deal: Kevin O’Leary, Mark Cuban and guest Shark Nick Woodman of GoPro invested $225,000 for 7.5 percent equity (with a 10 percent royalty until the Sharks get their money back).
Latest News: Shark Wheel is working with multiple industry leaders in a variety of industrial markets. “The company is exploding,” enthused David Patrick, chief technology officer, who was awarded “Innovator of the Year” by the Orange County Business Journal.
“We are releasing products in the luggage space with partners like Harley Davidson. We also have incredible agriculture wheels that are over four feet in diameter, which won us a National Science Foundation grant for $225,000 and are up for a phase two amount of $750,000.”
Also, an industry leader in the multi-billion dollar materials handling world is releasing Shark Wheels on their products, Patrick said, “for which we expect to dominate the marketplace.”
What was it like being on the show? “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that put us through every conceivable emotion,” said Zack Fleishman, COO and co-founder. “It was a whirlwind experience that continued long after we aired.”
Life Lesson Learned: “I learned that over-preparation before filming is critical to performing well in front of the Sharks,” acknowledged Fleishman. “It’s also critical to performing well when your episode airs and the business begins rolling in.”
Added Patrick: “I didn’t know if I had it in me to go in front of millions of people with an idea for a square wheel and risk being ridiculed. I was amazed how easily I handled it and have become a much more confident public speaker because of it.”
Working with their Sharks: “The Sharks were amazing from the first day we met them while filming,” according to Fleishman and Patrick. “Just from appearing on the show, we have been overwhelmed by the amount of industries we are being asked to enter into.”
Locker Board, San Clemente
Description: At the age of 11, Carson Kropfl created the only non-folding, sustainable skateboard on the market that can fit inside a backpack.
The Deal: Guest Shark Sir Richard Branson invested $65,000 for a 20 percent stake in Kropfl’s business.
Latest News: Locker Board has grown over 300 percent since being on “Shark Tank,” said an excited Kropfl, now 13 years old. “We are in several retailers and just launched a store on Amazon that is doing really well.”
Richard Branson’s investment allowed Kropfl to hire one of the best skateboard manufacturers in the world, PS Stix, to make his sustainable line of skateboards.
“I’m collaborating with the lead of sustainable innovation at Nike, Noah Murphy-Reinhertz, on new ideas, and recently did my first TEDx Talk,” said Kropfl. “It’s been an incredible year and I can’t wait to see what happens in 2019.”
What was it like being on the show? “Being on ‘Shark Tank’ is something I will never forget,” said Kropfl. “Preparing to be on the show made me a better business person. I had to think through things I never had before. I couldn’t believe it when I was selected for my Locker Board skateboards out of 40,000 people to be on the show. I felt lucky, grateful and nervous all at the same time.”
Life Lesson Learned: “I learned to seize the moment, never give up and believe in myself,” Kropfl told us. “People don’t realize it took me four years to get on the show. I bumped into one of the executive producers in an elevator when I was on a family vacation and gave him an elevator pitch when I was seven years old!”
He added: “[The producer] told me I wasn’t ready for the show and I kept in touch with him for four years. If I hadn’t seized the moment and given him that pitch, I wouldn’t be here today. You have to believe in yourself and your ideas to have success.”
Working with his Shark: For the pint-sized entrepreneur, Branson is an amazing partner and mentor.
“He’s taught me how to delegate and has given me several opportunities to write blogs about my experiences that have appeared on Virgin.com,” Kompfl shared. “He’s assigned a team of people at the Virgin Group to help me with my business. He invites me to events, too. I recently saw him receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”
“I have so much respect for him because he’s a family man and gives back. We both love the ocean. I’ve become an ocean activist and donate a portion of proceeds from Locker Board to Ocean Unite to help with ocean conservation. I want to be just like him when I grow up!”
Shed Defender, Irvine
Description: A lightweight onesie for dogs that controls and contains pet hair and dander. It also helps with skin conditions, allergies or anxiety issues.
The Deal: $250,000 in exchange for 25 percent of the company. [Deal did not close]
Latest News: Shed Defender has been growing rapidly, enjoying a large and steady sales spike since their episode aired in October, according to Tyson Waltes, CEO and founder.
“We are on track to reach 60 percent year-over-year growth from 2017 to 2018 and have sold nearly 38,000 units to date. In 2019, we’re expanding our product line with two new versions of our core product and have a few other exciting updates in the works.”
What was it like being on the show: “‘Shark Tank’ was an amazing, difficult and terrifying experience all at the same time. From the application process to the filming, there’s a lot more to it than what you see on television,” explained Waltes, who’s team spent hours preparing for their time in the Tank.
“I think it paid off, because we were confident when we walked in that we would have the answers to the questions thrown at us. Once we got to the filming portion though, it finally began to really sink in: This is happening … I am finally going on the show of my dreams with the company I started.
“I had never been so nervous in my life, but I had my brother and my dog by my side, so I shook it off and went for it. It’s something we will never forget and always be thankful for.”
Life Lesson Learned: “Preparing for ‘Shark Tank’ was a great exercise for us as a company,” said Waltes. “It forced us to do a deep dive into our numbers and look at the business through an investor’s lens, which is something we hadn’t really done before.”
It also forced Waltes to work on his presentation skills and learn how to be more clear and concise when talking about his business. “On a different note, I learned that there’s so much more that goes into filming a TV show than I would have ever thought, which makes it even more nerve-wracking when you finally walk into the Tank.”
Working with their Shark: “The deal with Lori Greiner fell through on the back end, so we’re no longer working with her, but we think it’s the best outcome for both parties. We spoke to Lori several times, though, and she was great to work with and we plan to keep in touch!”
Slyde Handboards, San Clemente
Description: Handboards for bodysurfing.
The Deal: Mark Cuban and guest Shark Ashton Kutcher split a $200,000 investment for a 22 percent stake in the company.
Latest News: Slyde Handboards just had their Shark Tank update that aired and business is booming, said Angela Watts, chief ryde officer. “We have sold over $1.6 million in product, have launched into Dick’s Sporting Goods, and have a global community of ambassadors and team riders. We sponsor handboarding competitions around the world, but our favorite is our Slyde Charity Handboard Competition that happens in our hometown, San Clemente, every June.”
What was it like being on the show? “Being on ‘Shark Tank’ is the most incredible and whirlwind experience in the world for any entrepreneur,” Watts told us. “It is the biggest opportunity for any company to get, so of course it is a bit nerve wracking while you are preparing to pitch to the Sharks.
“We prepared like we would prepare for an exam – flash cards and all! Steve and I were both so nervous, but knew we did the best we could. Once we gave our initial pitch, we could tell we had them interested, because everyone had a huge smile on their face – even Mr. Wonderful.
Watts and her husband knew they wanted Cuban and Kutcher as partners. “But when both Kevin and Robert offered us the money for only 15 percent of our company and Mark and Ashton wanted 25 percent – it was a really hard decision to make. But in the end, giving up an extra 7 per cent for Mark and Ashton was so worth it!”
Life Lesson Learned: “We learned to never give up on something you are passionate about. My husband Steve and I applied to be on ‘Shark Tank’ three times before being accepted. We got turned down by banks and investment groups, racked up credit card debt and thousands of dollars from family.”
“We had some really hard financial times, but after being on ‘Shark Tank’ we learned that we just needed to keep going until we found the right partners that believed in our company and us.”
Working with the Sharks: “Talk about two powerhouses! These two guys are the most awesome and supportive investors a company could ask for. The money they put into the business was great, but having those two on our team has propelled Slyde in ways that would not have happened with just any investor.”
Watts was happy to see Kutcher and Cuban give their time and resources for the company. “But they also care about our well-being as well. I remember when I was talking to Mark a week before I was due to have our daughter, he said, ‘Don’t worry about the business, it will still be here. Just enjoy the time with your family and take care of yourself.’
“That really meant a lot to me and shows you what type of person and investor he is.”
Nui Foods, Irvine
Description: A company specializing in low carb, low sugar cookies.
The Deal: Guest judge Alex Rodriguez offered $300,000 for a 25 percent stake in the business.
Latest News: Business has been growing fast since Nui appeared on the show, said Victor Macias, co-founder. “We hit an all-time sales goal during the first 24 hours after airing. It’s amazing what happens after you’ve been on the show. We’ve seen opportunities open up that were not available before the episode broadcast. Our goal is to keep the momentum going for as long as possible.”
What was it like being on the show? “It was an amazing experience, like taking our biggest hopes, dreams and fears and rolling them all into one. We knew this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and we wanted to maximize it. That’s why we practiced a lot before the show. My partner and I would drink shots of espresso and do sprints around the office to raise our heart rate. The goal was to practice while feeling anxious. We did not want to leave any room for error!”
Life Lesson Learned: “We learned the value of going for the ‘home run.’ It’s actually how we’ve grown Nui so fast. We plan for the long-term but still swing for the fences when opportunities arise.”
Working with your Shark: “While we can’t disclose many details, getting Alex to make a deal was a dream come true. We resonated with Alex’s immigrant backstory. He knows what it’s like to create something from nothing. We understand that it takes hard work and vision to accomplish something great. We feel that Alex is the perfect example of those values.”
“Shark Tank” is currently airing its 10th season on ABC.
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