Ok maybe 'STAR' is a bit strong but the reality TV part is right. George and I recently appeared on Channel 10's Shark Tank Australia, pitching our fledgling business to five 'Sharks' for investment. The Sharks are all successful business people and they don't take any prisoners, grilling everyone who enters the tank. It's certainly not for the faint hearted.
For us however, it was an opportunity to good to refuse. We were pretty intimidated at first but decided to give it a red hot go and expose ourselves to the intense scrutiny of arguably the most savvy business minds in Australia. Nothing ventured, nothing gained right?!
So we worked on our pitch, tired to think of all the questions they might ask and headed to the tank prepared for any eventuality or so we thought. "And Action!"
Walking through the hallway as the big double doors open to five sets of Shark eyes that would usually be separated by the TV screen was terrifying!!! We then had to awkwardly stand there in silence while the crew adjusted the lighting. It was the longest 2 minutes ever. I looked everywhere but at the Sharks while George couldn't help but look at all the faces staring back with her nervous smile.
We were just bursting to start speaking while we could still remember what we were meant to say. Finally we began and thankfully we got through the delivery no problem (although we were a bag of nerves on the inside).
Following our pitch we invited the Sharks up for a closer look at our Drew and Giant Drew. Steve Baxter got a bit too handy with his 'testing' of our new prototype Giant Drew Stand giving it a good push to check it's balance (watch it Steve... you break it, you bought it!).
Thankfully all our products are well engineered and withstood this man handling!
The interrogation started soon after and it was intense but we were confident in our product and business and open and honest with our responses. Tech investor Steve Baxter just didn't get it (he's not the creative type) and kept stating 'It's just a lamp' (how.dare.he!) although after Tweeting back to him that 'Not everyone thinks it's just a lamp' during the airing of our pitch and referencing our appearance in the Guggenheim NYC shop, he changed his tune and congratulated us - THANKS Steve.
Andrew Banks and Steve both wanted to know what was next for us however we weren't keen to give away all our ideas just like that. We know we have so much more to come and that we proved our ability to produce original and interesting products. Janine Allis agreed and she loved our energy but we were just a little too early on in our journey for her to invest. She was also of the opinion that our strategy to focus on one product and learn all the lessons to apply to future products was the right way to go. She has since written that she loves our vision to become icons of Australian design and hopes to see more of us in the future. YAY.
Naomi Simpson and Glen Richards were also very encouraging. Glen said we were 'artists' and could see our products in somewhere like MoMa. We were the right investment for him however.
So then we were down to one lonely Shark, Redballon.com founder Naomi Simpson. Naomi recognised us straight away as her very own team had scouted our products for inclusion on her own e-commerce sight Wrapped.com
Resplendent in her trademark Red dress she sat thoughtfully. She said that she invests in people as much as the business and admitted to think we were investable.
She was really interested and asked many probing questions and spent a lot of time crunching numbers. We were on tenterhooks - could we possibly walk away with an investment from the Red Shark? Sadly it wasn't to be, she essentially told us that she didn't want to de-motivate us by making an offer which would mean she would have to take over a significant portion of the business. So with that all 5 Sharks were out. What an experience! No deal BUT we do look forward to proving to be the 'one that got away'.
Michael (& George)