Like many entrepreneurs, Juliet Boydstun and Lucinda Lent found their entrepreneurial inspiration in a common predicament: Kids' parties are a drag for adults. As it turns out, what happened next was made for TV.
In 2008, the two longtime friends opened the Los Angeles-based play space and party-planning service the COOP. Their mission: make kids' parties as fun for adults as they are for kids. The idea struck a chord, as the two founders have hosted hundreds of parties for a client list that includes Nicole Richie and Ben Affleck. They also landed a plum spot on ABC's Shark Tank--as well as a cool $150,000 cash infusion.
Now, the professional party planners want to take their show on the road. The duo is set to begin filming a Web series for PopSugar in which they will invite viewers into their workshop for a behind-the-scenes look at the COOP's party-planning magic.
So how did two Southern California moms go from entrepreneurial hopefuls to budding television stars? Well, it wasn't all Shirley Temples and Bellinis, says Boydstun.
"When you start a business, you have to know that it's going to be a lot of work, and there's no guarantee of success," she says. "And once you understand that, you have to believe in yourself and just do it."
This just-do-it mentality is how the entrepreneurial pair ended up on Shark Tank four years after launching the COOP. The idea of trying out for the show had always appealed to Boydstun and Lent, who were longtime fans. But it wasn't until they pulled up Shark Tank's website one day and realized open auditions were being held just around the corner from their shop that they finally went for it.
"It was such a whirlwind, we didn't even have time to be nervous," Lent says.
After a long day of waiting in lines and chatting with other wannabe contestants, the two co-founders were given a spot on the show. Their pitch? A 15 percent stake in the company in exchange for $150,000 to help turn their business into a franchise. Though they ended up getting funded by none other than real estate magnate Barbara Corcoran, Boydstun says the exposure they received from the appearance was worth even more.
"Being on Shark Tank really got our name out there," Boydstun says.
Since their television appearance, Boydstun and Lent have been focusing on turning the COOP into a national brand by way of franchising. They're in the midst of launching their second location in Frisco, Texas. Given the level of interest they've received from Texans so far, they're hopeful the new location will be as much of a success as the first. And by maintaining a very hands-on relationship with their new franchisee, they plan to stay true to their original vision of a play space that's fun for kids and adults.
Meanwhile, the pair's Shark Tank success has propelled them toward a Web series with PopSugar that is now in the planning stages and is expected to premier later this year.
The show, entitled Best Birthday Ever, will focus on the COOP's party-planning service. Boydstun and Lent hope the series will further expand their brand while also fulfilling their personal mission of helping moms like them learn how to throw fabulous parties. As for future plans, Lent says the possibilities are endless--but the only way to remain successful is to stay focused.
"You have to be truthful to your original vision and ignore all the naysayers," Lent says. "You can't take no for an answer."