It's just minutes before the inaugural Beauty Pitch event is about to start and Mark Cuban and John Paul DeJoria are backstage, deep in conversation -- about hotdogs.
Turns out Cuban, the outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank investor, is schooling DeJoria, a former guest judge on the show and co-founder of both Patron Spirits and John Paul Mitchell Systems, on a quick and easy way to nuke a dog in the microwave (by simply wrapping it in a paper napkin).
But it's all business once these bantering buddies get onto stage during Cosmoprof, North America's annual trade show. We start grilling five companies to see which ones will earn funding and mentoring to scale to the next level. The sharks are also answering some of my questions and those from fellow panelist Melissa Goldstein, Martha Stewart Living's beauty director, as well as our host Scott Buchanan, chairman of the Professional Beauty Association. Our edited conversation follows:
Buchanan: How do you take a creative idea to a practical reality while juggling a full-time job?
DeJoria: There are certain steps that you've got to write down to make your idea come to fruition. You start taking those steps, and as you go, you start fulfilling what your end goal is. Then you can make the choice whether to leave what you're doing and go on to something else, but you can always do those steps at night. Successful people do the things unsuccessful people don't want to do.
Parmar: An elevator pitch is one thing, but to really elevate a brand and ultimately drive sales you need to be an effective corporate storyteller. How do entrepreneurs deliver that?
Cuban: Being able to tell a story that is engaging is critical these days because we've become so dependent on social media to grab customers and hold onto them. A story doesn't really have to be consistent over a long period of time -- it's different from branding, and that's the key to understand. Storytelling might apply to a particular application, a particular customer, a particular demographic, but you've got to be able -- in 6o seconds or less -- to engage with people in Facebook.
Goldstein: When you're starting a new business, what's more important: a great idea or solid business acumen?
DeJoria: I think they equally have merit. There's no doubt. Embrace them both.
Cuban: Nobody thinks they have a bad idea. We all get that feeling, Uh, this is it. And then what? The idea is obviously a part of it ,but once you take that first step it becomes the smallest part, and you have to recognize that.
Parmar: What characteristics show an entrepreneur's ready to scale their business to the next level?
DeJoria: Are they convinced that their service or product is the best they could possibly make it, and at the same time, how enthusiastic and in love are they with their own brand? If they are... then what is their plan to reach people?
Cuban: It really depends on the business. I try to look for somebody that's committed, that's focused, that dreams about their business at night.
It's hard to find balance if you want to be successful. We often talk about wanting balance, but I tell people, work like there's someone trying to take it all away from you -- because there is.
Buchanan: Volatility, uncertainty, complexity ,and agility, to me, is the new landscape of business. How do you think small businesses should navigate through this?
Cuban: Everything is changing, always. But wherever there's change there's opportunity. Because you're smaller, you can move more quickly, you can be more adventurous, you can take more chances. It really is about using your brainpower and your creativity to try and stay ahead.
DeJoria: This is like a little saying: Pay attention to the vital few, ignore the trivial many, but beware that the vital few will constantly change. This is great for entrepreneurs. When you're little you can change immediately. When you get bigger you have to incorporate more people and more things in your change.
So if you're a young entrepreneur or business, you're able to have that agility. You've got to know that if something's not going to work, no problem, you try it again. Still doesn't work? You try it again. Still doesn't work? You switch to something else.