This post originally appeared on startupnation.com/start-your-business
Growing up in San Diego, California, I was unprepared for how mosquitos would impact my family’s quality of life when we relocated to South Florida. My young daughter and I were constantly suffering from mosquito bites and none of the post-bite treatments available on the market were effective.
Determined to find a solution, I spent time investigating how other countries were combating insect bites and I discovered a product that uses suction to eliminate the irritant rather than applying creams or harsh chemicals. I was amazed to find that the product not only worked, but it also offered instant relief for me and my daughter.
Knowing that the product was life-changing for my family, I became a “mom on a mission” to make the product readily available for other families. After testing the market and receiving positive feedback from customers, I knew I had a winning product.
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In order to take the Bug Bite Thing to the next level, I partnered with my mother, a successful entrepreneur. Together, we became a powerhouse mother-daughter team with experience and drive. That drive landed us the chance to appear on “Shark Tank” to pitch to the judges, an opportunity that we welcomed in order to hopefully secure funding to keep up with our demand.
When we appeared on “Shark Tank,” to our amazement, we had all the Sharks biting with offers, but we decided to strike a deal with Lori Greiner, who offered us her Golden Ticket. My mother and I have received many inquiries asking how we made it on the show and how we prepared, so we compiled a few tips for entrepreneurs looking to take a similar path.
How to get your product on “Shark Tank”
Do your research
Before going on “Shark Tank,” we did extensive research on the market and industry trends. We identified a target demographic, our market opportunity, and we felt confident that there was a need for our product. We also stayed abreast of industry trends.
For example, there is a growing demand for non-toxic and reusable products, industry-wide. Bug Bite Thing checked both of those boxes and is completely chemical-free. We knew this would be appealing to potential investors.
We also looked at the cost of other insect-relief products. We knew an accessible price point would be key if I wanted all families to be able to afford it, and I felt strongly the retail price had to be under $10. I would advise other entrepreneurs to make sure their price point is in line with other products in the same category. If it is not, be prepared to justify to the Sharks (or any other potential investors) why your product has a higher price point.
Bring your passion
I think my passion for Bug Bite Thing was one of the reasons we were successful in getting our product on the show. The producers have seen thousands of entrepreneurs pitch their ideas, so I tried my best to be memorable. My goal of going on “Shark Tank” was to secure funding so I could bring the same relief Bug Bite Thing offered my family to other families. I believe that being able to communicate your passion is key to securing your spot on “Shark Tank.”
Know your strengths
When pitching to the Sharks, it is important to know your strengths and weaknesses. If you have a business partner, be aware of who is better at selling your product. My mother and I trust one another and know each other’s strengths, and we played to our strengths in our pitch.
Remember that this is a one-shot opportunity; your pitch should focus on the best way to showcase the product and the business, not who has more time on-camera.
Live and breathe your business
My daughters help out at the office and my husband is also involved in the company. Before going on the show, I knew my business plan inside and out. I knew exactly how much funding we needed to take our business to the next level, what infrastructure would be needed to grow the company, and who our first key hires would be.
I had sales projections to showcase the market opportunity in a way that would appeal to the Sharks, as this is something that any investor would expect to see. You should have a good grasp on all of this if you are hoping to get your product on the show.
A great way to start gaining exposure is within your own community. I contacted the Chamber of Commerce, other local female entrepreneurs, and the local news stations, who offered essential resources to help me establish my brand. Even if you believe you have a winning product, that doesn’t mean it won’t take a few versions until you are ready to bring it to the market.
I was told multiple times that Bug Bite Thing would not succeed. People said that I needed another product or a line of products to launch the business. Instead, I relied on the feedback from my community, who loved the product. This reassured me that the product alone would succeed, and I watched the demand start to grow.
I would advise other entrepreneurs to focus on customer feedback. This will tell you a lot about whether or not your product will be well-received by potential investors.
Develop a team effort mentality
This skill has been instrumental in the growth of our business. To succeed as a business owner, you must be able to work collaboratively, accept constructive criticism and be willing to adjust when needed.
You will constantly be in problem-solving mode, so you must be open to others’ ideas, thoughts and creative solutions. Make sure your team knows they are respected and valued, and that everyone on your team is working toward the same ultimate goal.
Know your Sharks
You may already have an idea of which Shark you would ideally like to have invest in your business, but I would advise entrepreneurs to keep an open mind.
Prepare by researching each Shark to become familiar with their business practices, their areas of expertise and their interests. You want to be sure that the Shark you choose has a vision for your business that aligns with yours. When you’re on the show, listen carefully to what each Shark offers before accepting any investment. And most importantly, have fun! This is an opportunity of a lifetime.