This post originally appeared on startupnation.com/grow-your-business
I’m the founder of Pet Plate, a fresh-cooked, human-grade pet food subscription service. We use only the freshest ingredients to make our veterinarian designed meals, and all of our meals are personalized for your pup based on their specific health needs. My business has grown quickly, and we’ve shipped over 10 million meals to pet parents around the country. But in June of 2016, the investors on the hit TV show, “Shark Tank,” all told me they were out!
My experience on Shark Tank was a rollercoaster, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk about Pet Plate on Shark Tank twice. As a long-time casual watcher of the show, I was honored to be selected to pitch Pet Plate and never expected to be invited back to give an update on Pet Plate after not getting a deal during my original pitch. However, it was a long journey and I wanted to share my insights and learnings from my Shark Tank experiences.
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My interview process
I did not expect much to come from my initial attempt to be selected for the show.
The Shark Tank producers were having a local casting call for interested entrepreneurs during NYC TechDay, so I signed up when I arrived at the conference. I was amazed at the number of people who showed up to pitch to be on “Shark Tank.” The line of entrepreneurs wrapped around the convention center and pitches lasted the entire day.
After checking in, I sat and waited until my name was called. I remember waiting anxiously next to four or five other entrepreneurs for my turn to give my pitch, but I made sure to give it my best shot and to bring as much energy and enthusiasm as I could after a long day at a busy conference. I had about 90 seconds, and after what I thought wasn’t my best performance, the producers thanked me for my time and I went back to Pet Plate’s booth.
A week or two later, I was notified that I’d been selected to continue the process to be on “Shark Tank.” I had to film a few additional videos for the producers, but I was quickly told to get ready to fly to LA. It all moved pretty quickly after that, and before I knew it, I was devising a pitch for the Sharks and packing my suitcase to fly to LA in June of 2016.
Preparing to be on the show
I arrived in LA excited and anxious to meet the Sharks and to tell them about the amazing business I was building. I was picked up by Shark Tank staff members and brought to a hotel that would be my home base for the next few days. One of the best parts about the experience was getting to know the other entrepreneurs and their businesses. I love that the show brings in eclectic and diverse entrepreneurs, and it was fun getting to know them all. However, we all were quickly given a dose of reality when we arrived at the “Shark Tank” set the next day and continued to hone our pitches in front of the producers.
The entire “Shark Tank” crew was extremely helpful throughout the process, but we only had a few days to prepare our set and our pitches for showtime. The producers and director tried to simulate the experience of being on the show, and getting real-time feedback on my business underneath the bright lights was certainly a new experience. Luckily, I had my four-legged partner in crime, Winston, right there next to me to calm my nerves. He was the real star of the show.
After two days of practice, I felt ready and started to settle in.
Pitching the Sharks
I woke up early on the day of the pitch and was filled with nervous energy. However, when I got to the set, things started to come into focus. It was a long day, and all of the entrepreneurs who were being filmed for that weekend were all hanging out near the trailers, nervously practicing their lines.
When it was time for me to pitch, I had a final check in with the producers, and that’s when it started to sink in that this was really happening. It was showtime.
I started to walk down the hallway with Winston at my side and went to the spot we were directed to stand to give our pitch. Underneath the lights, I could see the Sharks, and the film crew started the countdown. That was certainly the longest 10 seconds of my life, but when it was time to go, I delivered my pitch and answered all of the Sharks’ questions as best I could. All in all, this lasted about 45 minutes.
Leaving without a deal
I was devastated when the last Shark, Mr. Wonderful, said no.
After walking away without a deal, my mind instantly went to what was next for me and my business. If you watch the show, you’ll see that I had to fight back a few tears. The entire experience was very taxing, so it was hard to walk away without a deal. I also believed very deeply in Pet Plate and didn’t agree with the Shark’s doubts in my business. It was all so much to take in.
I was brought to a trailer after filming my closing dialogue and one of the producers congratulated me on a job well done. They emphasized that I should continue to grow my business and not lose hope. Luckily, I took that to heart and stayed focused. However, I didn’t have much time to wallow, because within 30 minutes of leaving the stage, I was in a cab heading to LAX to fly home.
I thought a lot about what was next on that six-hour flight, but I landed in New York City determined to get back to work. Luckily, Pet Plate was able to quickly raise outside funding after the Sharks passed on the opportunity, and “Shark Tank” reached out to film what they called a “home package” on Pet Plate. I then worked hard for six months to be ready to capitalize on the “Shark Tank” exposure, and the episode helped us launch nationwide in 2017.
The Shark Tank update
Fast forward two years later and the invite to participate in a Shark Tank update was almost as serendipitous as the first one. I was driving from a Pet Plate distribution center and one of the crew members from “Shark Tank” called to see how Pet Plate was doing since my appearance on the show. They were extremely impressed with our growth and asked if I would be willing to be on the show again.
The second time around, it was very rewarding to reflect and communicate all of the amazing things we’d done since the original episode. Not only did we prove the Sharks wrong, but we’d come incredibly far as a business. As an entrepreneur, it is hard to take time to reflect on how far the business has come, but seeing the progress presented on live TV in January 2019 was a surreal experience.
Reflecting on my Shark Tank experience
In all, my experiences on “Shark Tank” have been life changing for me and for my business. It reminded me that it’s important to take chances. I also became more comfortable pitching my business ideas and became better at communicating my ideas and answering questions. I also learned how to prep and coordinate for a major launch.
Finally, I also saw how much progress could be made with three years of hard work. Watching my original “Shark Tank” airing along with the update allowed me to see how far my business had come. It motivated me to continue pushing and to continue in proving the Sharks wrong.
The post Pet Plate Founder Renaldo Webb Shares a Behind-the-Scenes Look at His Shark Tank Experience appeared first on StartupNation.