As a first-time entrepreneur, pitching investors is nerve-racking enough. Imagine what it's like when you're thinking on your feet on national television!
Avin Samtani, Rob Peck, and Jonathan Kinas found themselves swimming with the sharks and lived to tell the tale. It was a harrowing pitch and bidding process for their new product, The AquaVault. After being relentlessly grilled about their sales volume, it looked as though they were going to walk away with nothing, due to some of the investors' issues with their online conversions.
But at the last minute, Daymond John jumped in and pointed out that the scrappy trio had done well selling their product to businesses; they simply hadn't had time to focus on their online sales just yet. Because of Mr. John's connections, he was certain he could bring some of their costs down and get them on a more efficient path. So he made them an offer they couldn't refuse...and they didn't!
Before making their way onto the small screen, these three college friends left their comfy jobs to create The AquaVault, a patented lockbox that attaches to a lawn chair and helps swimmers keep their valuables secure while they are in the water.
The idea came to them while they were at a wedding in Miami and went to the hotel pool. They made the mistake most people make, which is hiding their wallets and keys inside their shoes and under a towel. They were worried about their belongings the whole time and when they finished swimming, they discovered that, yes, their stuff had been stolen. An "aha" moment.
Like seasoned entrepreneurs, they took this bad situation and used it to create a solution...they were drawing designs on napkins that very day. A dozen prototypes later, they had a product and were selling it door-to-door at hotels.
Getting on the Show
Samtani, Peck, and Kinas applied to Shark Tank to bring their business to the next level. They were chosen out of 45,000 hopefuls. What made them stand out?
They had a compelling story. Not only that, they were able to convey it in a dramatic way. Because, hey–it is television after all, and people need to be entertained!
Grabbing Daymond John's Attention
The AquaVault is already being used at resorts, golf courses, hotels, and beaches around the world, proving there is a strong need for the invention. The guys had made numerous deals with hotels on their own without any previous connections in the hospitality industry. This is a great indicator of potential success, which John noted.
"He told us he believes in us and our product’s potential," says Samtani. "We were closing big deals on our own without any help and he probably knew with his guidance he could help us to get to where we wanted to be."
Going in, the team knew they wanted to work with John. He is a manufacturing and branding guru, which is where they needed the most help.
Top 4 Tips for Those Preparing for Shark Tank
According to these now seasoned Shark Tank veterans, there are four major things to be aware of while preparing for the show:
- Know your numbers. You will be asked about them. A LOT.
- Be confident and don’t be afraid to speak out. Remember, so often people are investing in the entrepreneur him / herself. Not only the product. So put yourself out there!
- They know nothing about you or your business prior to the pitch, so it's up to you to successfully convey why they should invest in you. Be direct and concise. Don't give them a reason to cut you off.
- It gets intense in the tank, everyone starts talking over each other. Remain in control and be sure to respond to each shark’s question or they’ll eat you for breakfast!
If you're thinking of applying to be on Shark Tank, click here to find out how to contact the producers or attend an open call. Remember to do your homework (and extra credit!). Practice in front of the mirror a few million times. Eat your Wheaties. Then get out there and show those sharks what real entrepreneurs are made of. Good luck!