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- 06/18/15--12:40: _Mark Cuban explains...
- 05/19/15--13:42: 6 'Shark Tank' companies that are crushing the competition
- Never invest in a security or stock that doesn't pay a dividend or interest.
- Always save a consistent portion of your income.
- Spend the interest, never the principal.
- 06/07/15--07:15: I turned down 3 offers on 'Shark Tank' — here's what I learned
- 06/07/15--13:40: What it's like to go fishing with the 'Warren Buffett of Bass'
- 06/08/15--05:31: Mark Cuban: Why perfection in business is a bad thing
- 06/18/15--10:05: Mark Cuban's 3 fundamental rules for running a business
- 06/18/15--12:40: Mark Cuban explains why a 401(k) is a no-brainer
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"Shark Tank" star Kevin O'Leary sat down with us to talk about his career and entrepreneurship. He tells us what it takes to achieve a work-life balance, and what that actually means.
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"Shark Tank" investor Kevin O'Leary sat down with us to talk about entrepreneurship, his career and an important lesson he learned early on that shaped the rest of his life.
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It pays to have a Shark on your side.
Every entrepreneur that hooks a Shark as a partner sees at least a slight bump in sales as a result of the so-called "Shark Tank" effect — but only companies that take the long view toward sustained growth turn out to be good investments.
Here are six businesses that walked out of the Tank with a deal and have been scaling up ever since, generating a handsome return for their big fish investors.
Brother and sister team Jeff and Jen Martin struck a deal with Barbara Corcoran in the beginning of season six for their company Pipsnacks, whose flagship product Pipcorn is an all-natural miniature popcorn that doesn't get stuck in your teeth or cause digestive problems.
After Corcoran invested in the Brooklyn-based company, she took the product nationwide by adding co-packers in the Midwest and on the West Coast. Pipsnacks's sales went from $200,000 prior to "Shark Tank" to more than $1.1 million within just three months of the company's landing a deal with Corcoran.
Having access to Marvel's roughly 8,000 characters for its sunglass designs has certainly paid off, helping the company generate $4.1 million in sales in less that five months, just shy of the $5.7 million in revenue it earned the previous year.
When 13-year-old entrepreneur Andrea Cao made a deal with Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban for her handheld massage device Q-Flex during season six, she had just $20,000 in sales.
Since launching a website and moving manufacturing out of her garage and into a fulfillment center, sales have risen to $500,000. Cao and her mother have also had to hire four employees to help with customer service and product assembly.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Barbara Corcoran has invested in nearly 30 companies over the past six seasons of "Shark Tank."
In a new Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), Corcoran says that from her experience, the worst mistakes an entrepreneur can make are "pissing away money on patents and PR" and not being confident enough.
The right dance steps are: 1) make the product 2) get some sales 3) make the big guys envy you and only then get a patent.
But what gets in the way of all young business is self-doubt. The little poisonous voice inside all of us that whispers "don't go there. You can't do it. Don't take the chance." It took me 20 years to kill that voice and set myself free.
Her first point, that money can't buy success for a new company, is a reflection of her belief that great entrepreneurs have a need for success. It's why she told Business Insider last year that she never invests in "rich kids" who can easily recover from a financial failure.
Fellow Shark Daymond John, who agrees with Corcoran on the danger of "pissing away money," told us that, "if you can't prove your concept when you're broke, you won't be able to prove it with money either."
How entrepreneurs should approach patents is more controversial. Another Shark, Lori Greiner, holds more than 120 patents and writes in her book "Sell It, Bank It!" that "if it is remotely within the range of possibility, I would urge you to try to get one" as soon as possible for both marketplace protection and assurance for investors. Greiner says, however, that it's ultimately a personal choice.
Corcoran's point ties back to what John said: If you're spending anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000 securing a patent on a product that customers may not even want, you're throwing away money that could be put toward growing the business.
Corcoran got her own start when she cofounded the Corcoran Group real-estate firm in 1973 with just $1,000. She sold the company to NRT Incorporated in 2001 for $66 million and then became a media personality.
She told Business Insider that the best "advice" she ever received came from her first business partner and former boyfriend, Ramone Simone.
They split the Corcoran Group in the '80s after their relationship turned sour, a move Simone was unhappy with.
"On the way out the door he said, 'You'll never succeed without me,'" Corcoran said.
It helped her turn that nagging voice of doubt into a source of power.
"That was the 'advice' that got me through the thick and thin, mostly because it slammed me in my gut, and I didn't want to let him have the satisfaction of seeing me go down. That's what I always leaned on when things were bad. I'd be like, 'Damn, I'm not gonna let him see me [like this].'"
People have a tendency to make legends out of highly successful businesspeople, thinking they must know something deep and insightful to get to the top.
Yet this is a dangerous mindset to have, said "Shark Tank" investor Robert Herjavec.
"You know, people always ask that question: 'What's the one piece of advice that changes everything?'" Herjavec said. To him, that piece of advice doesn't exist.
The most successful entrepreneurs are certainly talented and intelligent, Herjavec explained, but it's the long hours and tireless focus that causes them to triumph, even though those experiences are hard to capture in a sound bite. "It's the thousand little, non-sexy, non-exciting, mundane things that you have to do in order to be recognized."
That doesn't mean you should disregard everything you hear or that you shouldn't share your own insight with less experienced colleagues.
After all, Herjavec has written two books filled with lessons learned from founding and growing the Herjavec Group and investing in other companies. He's just saying that there are few universal truths in business.
If he had to offer one piece of advice, it's to "take the advice that helps you, and discard the stuff that doesn't." In other words, figure out what works well for you, and stick with it.
"I do what I do well," Herjavec said. "All of the things I don't do well, I forget!"
Ultimately, he said, "free advice is worth exactly what you've paid for it."
Going on ABC’s popular reality show “Shark Tank” means you’ll get to stand in front of a national audience of almost 10 million people to pitch your big idea.
The show has funded and created a number of new businesses, some of which get millions of dollars in sales.
What makes a successful pitch?
Online business broker Digital Exits went through every single pitch in the first five seasons of “Shark Tank,” or 380 in total, to find out the main factors that make a winning deal.
In case you haven't seen "Shark Tank," it's a reality show where contestants get to pitch their business idea in front of super successful investors. If you convince them with your idea, they will invest in your business.
But only 48% of the pitches end up in a deal, according to Digital Exits. It also helps to ask for less money, while offering about a quarter of your company. On average, winning pitches sought $184,345 for an equity stake of about 26%.
In most cases, the Sharks won't invest in a company that has no sales. In fact, successful pitches had almost half a million dollars in sales before pitching on Shark Tank.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Mark Cuban became a billionaire in 1999 when he sold his company, Broadcast.com, to Yahoo for $6 billion.
His net worth is now estimated at $3 billion, and he has numerous mansions, private planes, and sports cars to his name.
He also owns the Dallas Mavericks, who brought the NBA championship home in 2011.
"I'm the luckiest guy in the world," Cuban said at Business Insider's IGNITION conference. "I only have to do what I want to do. I only have to do what I like to do."
Cuban has been a businessman since the beginning. When he was a senior at Indiana University, he and a friend bought a bar called Motley's in downtown Bloomington. It was eventually shut down after they named an underage girl the winner of a wet t-shirt contest held on the premises.
This was an ad for the bar we started at IU. Yes we had nerf basketball and you didn't pic.twitter.com/3DkF6aRCKy
Cuban sold his first company, a consulting firm called MicroSolutions, to CompuServe in 1990. Next, he decided to pay $125,000 for an American Airlines lifetime pass, which let him fly first-class anywhere in the world. "I got as drunk as I could with as many people as I could meet," he told the Financial Times.
But Cuban really made it big when Yahoo bought Broadcast.com, a live audio and video streaming site Cuban founded with friend Todd Wagner. The deal, finalized in 1999, was valued at nearly $6 billion.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
"Shark Tank" investor Kevin O'Leary is also the cofounder and chairman of investment fund manager O'Leary Funds.
In his book "Cold Hard Truth on Men, Women & Money," he explains the "core principles on which [he] built O'Leary Funds":
Where did he get that criteria? From his mom.
O'Leary writes that his mother "hammered this home to me every payday," after years of investing according to those three points.
When she died, he was surprised to see that despite her lack of investing aggression, her portfolio "outperformed everything," he writes. "The day I saw my mother's portfolio is the day I stopped buying stocks that didn't pay anything to shareholders. Overnight, this became the only way I wanted to invest."
He explains that O'Leary funds is "a family of financial products now worth over $1 billion," and that its philosophy, "Get Paid While You Wait," is "exactly what my mother did."
Barbara Corcoran has rejected plenty of contestants on ABC's hit show "Shark Tank," but the sassy, whip-smart investor was once rejected from the show herself.
When Corcoran was first offered a role on "Shark Tank," she signed the contract immediately and told everyone in her life she would be heading to Hollywood. Four days before she was set to fly, she was told by the production company that her spot had been given to someone else: a busty blonde half her age.
Devastated, Corcoran shame-spiraled. She kicked herself for ever believing that, at her age, she would be cast on a hot, new TV show.
Her private pity party quickly morphed into something else. "I did what I do best," she says. "I got pissed."
The real-estate mogul wrote a brief email to Mark Burnett Productions and had an employee hand it to Mark Burnett directly. The email read: "I consider your rejection a lucky charm, because everything that ever happened in my life came on the heels of failure." Corcoran proposed that she compete with the other woman for the spot.
Burnett agreed, and the rest is history. "Five years, 37 businesses I've invested in — eight of which are hugely successful. Look at the wonderful second life I've given myself," Corcoran says.
This was just one story she recounted for the 600-plus business owners and entrepreneurs at Entrepreneur's Growth Conference in Miami last week. In a high-energy speech that drew many laughs, the outspoken 65-year-old said she had found that the ability to bounce back from hurt, rejection, and disappointment is the No. 1 predictor of a person's success in business.
"The difference between the real winners is how long they take to feel sorry for themselves. My winners feel it … but they come back up and say 'hit me again.'"
Corcoran's life is studded with examples. In third grade, her Catholic school teacher Sister Stella Marie (or "the nun from hell") told her she wouldn't amount to anything if she couldn't read. Corcoran, who suffers from dyslexia, says she developed deep insecurities about her intelligence that remained with her well into adulthood. But those insecurities gave rise to her strengths.
Because reading and writing were a struggle, Corcoran became adept at expressing herself verbally. Also, because she fears being seen as "stupid," she pushes herself to learn as much as she can in an attempt to measure up.
"I have always had a real issue with everything that went on at that schoolhouse," she says. "Everybody's got their s--t, and that's mine. Anytime I do anything … I overprepare like crazy because I'm scared about failing."
Another example involves Corcoran's former boyfriend, Ramone "Ray" Simone, who provided the $1,000 loan she used to start a real-estate business in New York City in 1973. The two became business partners and spent seven years growing their company until Simone made the shocking announcement that he would be leaving Corcoran to marry her secretary.
At that point, running the business together became too emotionally overwhelming for Corcoran. One Friday evening, she told Simone their partnership was over. They divided their company and its staff in half. The following Monday, she moved into another office three floors above and started The Corcoran Group.
Corcoran says Simone told her she would never succeed without him: "He gave me an insurance policy for life. I knew I would rather die than let him see me not succeed."
In 2002, she sold The Corcoran Group for $66 million.
Despite her "Shark Tank" fame, Corcoran still encounters situations in which she feels uncomfortable and insecure. If she walks into a cocktail party, for example, and finds herself booted out of a conversation, she can quickly feel those insecurities about her intelligence resurfacing.
Over the years, though, she has found a secret weapon — a two-word mantra that she believes everyone should tell themselves as they try to navigate the business world.
"It goes like this: F--k you," she says. "I have just as much right to be here as you. I'm just as smart as you. I've done a lot. I do this whole thing on my own. And I'm so grateful I had to come out of that hole to do it."
Before he founded the popular clothing company Fubu and became an investor on ABC's "Shark Tank," Daymond John believed that being successful meant having a million dollars in the bank.
John recently visited Business Insider to talk about his latest project, subscription service Gillette Shave Club, and shared the insight that came with making his first million.
John grew up in Hollis, Queens, and his father was a computer programmer "back when that wasn't popular and computers were the size of the room," he told Business Insider.
But when John was 10, his parents divorced.
"We went from middle class to poor," he says. "I became the man of the house and started working at that age."
Growing up in the same neighborhood where Russell Simmons, LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa, A Tribe Called Quest, and Run-D.M.C. lived before rising to fame, John had role models who had come from a similar background and became rich and famous. But his definition of success was different.
"I never wanted to be a celebrity," he says. "I wanted to be someone who was notable, who could go into a room and the important people would know them, but not everybody would. Because those artists had no privacy in their lives. I figured that success was to have a million dollars in the bank and be that individual."
Eventually, he became a millionaire thanks to Fubu. He started the company with a $100,000 investment from his mother, who mortgaged her house to support his new business. Six years later, the company was bringing in $350 million in revenue.
John quickly realized that his dreams hadn't been big enough.
"When I made my first million, I realized how poor I really was," he says. "It takes about a million to get you out of debt."
The number he had equated with wealth turned out to be just a stepping-stone along the way.
Working as a waiter at Red Lobster might not sound like an impressive job.
But for 'Shark Tank' investor and Fubu founder Daymond John, it was a great way to get started as an entrepreneur.
John recently stopped by Business Insider's offices to talk about his latest project, subscription service Gillette Shave Club. He also described why waiting tables at Red Lobster in his 20s was a great job.
"When you work at Red Lobster, you don’t take your job home with you," he says. "No one calls you up and says, 'I need more tartar sauce.'"
John knew that he wanted to be an entrepreneur and start his own apparel company, but he wasn't independently wealthy and needed a job to pay the bills in the meantime.
As a waiter, he could leave work and know that he was free until his next shift — no emails or phone calls were going to intrude in the meantime. He used his time away from the restaurant to focus on Fubu, which he eventually built into a $35o million company.
He also saw his day job as a way to learn about the way businesses work. By studying the reports that the company put out for shareholders, he came to understand what made the franchise profitable.
"When I looked at these big studies that Red Lobster issued every quarter, I would realize that they didn’t make any money on entrees," he says. "They only made money on appetizers, liquor, and desserts. If somebody comes in and you can sell them an appetizer, liquor, or dessert, you've made your profit. Having the first sale is worth nothing. That’s just the acquisition cost."
From that, he took away a key lesson: It's easier to upsell current customers than it is to find new ones.
As Fubu grew, he scaled down his hours at Red Lobster, then eventually quit. "I felt that the business was calling me," he explains, "Everyone comes across that. You have to say, 'How am I going to feel if I don’t take this leap of faith right now?'"
Knowing that he could always get his old job back helped give him the confidence that he needed to make that leap. Figuring that he'd always be able to work as a waiter again if his business didn't work out, he went "all in," devoting 100% of his time and energy to Fubu.
He didn't end up needing that back-up plan, but he's never regretted the years that he spent as a waiter.
Hundreds of businesses have now been featured on the hit reality show "Shark Tank," some have survived the tank, others have been eaten.
The survivors either left with a deal, or left confident in their decision to turn down any offers presented.
The businesses who get eaten often walk out without an offer, or lose sleep at night after taking the wrong deal.
My company, The Home T, was recently featured on the show. The sharks were as intense as ever, and I ended up receiving offers from Robert, Lori and Daymond.
It was great to receive offers, but I eventually declined all three because I felt that none of them appropriately valued my company. I walked out without a deal.
Turning down three individuals that have made enormous fortunes is no easy task, and the experience as a whole will challenge even the best small business owner.
Here are three tips that helped us survive "Shark Tank" and not get eaten alive:
1. Know your numbers
The Sharks are masterful financial tacticians. They use their supreme command of business finances to either decide your company isn’t worthy of an investment, or try and get the best possible deal they can on a company they think has value.
The only way to go toe to toe with experienced predators in the tank is to know your numbers. You don’t have to be an accountant or a financial advisor, but knowing the ins and outs of revenue, costs, customer acquisition, and other relevant metrics is the key to staying alive.
2. Manage (or at least try to manage) the sharks
When you see Shark Tank on TV it’s nicely edited so that the viewer can digest what they are seeing and hearing. In reality, the entrepreneur is getting hit with questions left and right, and sometimes they get asked multiple questions at once. When this happens it is so easy to get thrown off track.
You have to listen to the questions and, in some cases, quickly select the questions that follow the story you want to convey. If you don’t manage the Sharks, and their questions, you’ll quickly find yourself off track and leaving out major parts of your story.
3. Don’t be scared to push back
Confidence is important. No, I do not mean you should be overly rude, although, my “you’re not in the circle” comment to Kevin may have been right on the line. When someone says something that you are certain isn’t true or disagree with, it’s OK to speak up for yourself.
For instance, Daymond kept questioning if I was truly there for a deal or not, and after several mentions I finally said, “I don’t know how else to say it. I’m here for a deal.” Sharks don't have feet, so don’t let them walk all over you.
Ultimately, every businesses experience in the tank will be unique and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy for staying alive on the show. But knowing your numbers, (trying to) manage the sharks, and being confident enough to push back when needed, gave me a fighting chance.
Ryan Shell lives in New York City and is the CEO and founder of The Home T. He is an avid cycler, amateur photographer and is dedicated to raising money and awareness for multiple sclerosis research.
Greg Myerson has been hailed as the "Warren Buffett" of striped bass fishing.
The electrician from Connecticut holds the world-record for the largest striped bass ever caught. In August 2011, Myerson reeled in a monstrous 81.88 lb. striper off the coast of his home state.
This spring, the 47-year-old angler reeled in a deal on ABC's "Shark Tank" with Mark Cuban. The billionaire investor gave Myerson $80,000 for a 33% stake in his business, The World Record Stiper Company.
Myerson's company manufactures and sells his secret weapon — the RattleSinker, a sinker he designed that makes a rattle sound that attracts monster fish by mimicking the sound of their favorite food, crustaceans.
Myerson said it's his invention that makes him a great fisherman.
"There's a lot better fishermen than I am," he told me.
"He's lucky," Wade Boggs, a legendary former New York Yankees player and friend of Myerson's, said. "The thing about breaking a world record in anything is you have to be at the right spot at the right time. And, preparation is part of the process. If you're very good at that, you can break a world record."
The Baseball Hall-of-Famer also holds the world record for the largest blue fish.
"But guess what," Boggs joked, "His world record striper record, I'm on the hunt. I'm on the hunt...Now, I'm chasing him."
Myerson will tell you that he's a "great fisherman, but a horrible businessman."
While he's claims he's a "horrible businessman," after spending a day on the water with Myerson, it's clear that he has what it takes to succeed both on and off the water.
In mid-May, I joined Myerson and his crew at the Fishermen's Conservation Association's 17th annual Manhattan Cup — a "catch and release" charity tournament.
I met Myerson at Chelsea Piers in New York City around 7:30 a.m. He had arrived from Connecticut on his boat at 1 a.m. He and his crew slept in the cramped space on the boat. It didn't seem to bother him, though. He was full of energy and ready to get out on the water.
By 9 a.m. the boats and anglers made their way out in a line on the Hudson River. (On a normal day, Myerson would have been out on the water hours ago, but this was a charity tournament). When it was time to begin, we all raced out of the harbor.
Our first stop — to find some live bait near Staten Island.
We were looking for schools of bunker. To catch bunker, you cast a large mesh net that's weighted. By the way, the net weighs about 30 lbs.
Myerson stood on the bow of his boat. He made many attempts of the course of half an hour, but was unsuccessful.
Others onboard were growing impatient, but not Myerson.
"Come on, dummy! Let's go!" one of the crew members shouted to Myerson. On Myerson's boat, everyone, myself included, is referred to as a "dummy" or a "dunk tank." I'm not really sure what that means, but eventually I started referring to everyone by those names.
"He would stay and try to catch bunker all day," one of the crew members later told me.
After some persuasion, Myerson finally gave in and we bought a couple dozen bunker off one of the Staten Island locals who had a boat full of them.
We then headed out once more.
Initially, no one was catching anything. Our bait would get chomped in half, but were weren't getting any bites that we could reel in.
After a while, I got bored and ate my ham and cheese sandwich from 'Wichcraft.
Then, we moved the boat to another spot. And all of the sudden, Myerson reeled in the first fish — a big, beautiful bluefish.
We started chunking the water with some of our bait. (That's when you cut the fish into steak-like pieces.) I caught a couple of spider crabs and had one fish get away from me while reeling it in. I was growing impatient.
Meanwhile, Myerson, who was just a few feet away from me, was continuing to crush it.
And once the tide started coming in, the fish kept on biting. Myerson caught more and more blue fish, five or six, I believe. He finally reeled in a strip bass, his favorite type of fish, of course.
He ended the day with the most fish caught.
It's not just because he's lucky. Sure, luck is a component.
But here's what I noticed about Myerson: He's consistent. His pole is always in in the water. When I'd goof off and other people would too, he would remain focused. He has mental strength even when he's being teased and called a "dummy." He also knows when to shift strategies and move the boat to another location when he's not getting any bites. He's incredibly patient, too. He wanted to stay way past the mandated 4 p.m. return time.
And that's how business works, too. You have to be in the zone to catch the big fish, and the occasional shark.
What's more is Myerson has found where he's uniquely gifted and has turned that passion into his business. That's not just being lucky. That's just being smart. Figure out what you're really good at and work to be the best in the would at it.
"He's a very talented person. The things he does with fishing, I can't even explain," Mike Fronte, one of the anglers on the boat, said.
"He knows the fish. His passion for fishing is unbelievable. The things he does. What he knows. What he's taught me in the last couple of years ... I can't even tell you. He's always the one who catches the most fish on the boat ... He's always the one to catch the first fish."
"There's bigger fish for him to catch, definitely," Jeff Thibodeau, another fisherman, added. "Greg is so good because he works so hard at it."
Going back to business, Myerson acknowledged that he's been learning.
"I don't think that I'm really a bad businessman. I don't think I know a lot of the things that are needed to make my business as big as it's going to go. I'm learning a lot fast. I'm learning a lot from Mark Cuban, and who's a better teacher than him?"
Mark Cuban is the creator of Cyber Dust, a private messaging app. His user name is +blogmaverick.
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LA-based men's clothing label, Buck Mason, doesn't care about insider-y, fashion-industry stuff, like which menswear designer took home this year's top prize at the CFDA Fashion Awards last week. (It was Tom Ford, in case you're wondering.)
The company's sole focus since its inception in 2013 is on quality and timelessness. It doesn't involve itself with seasonal trends or of-the-moment fashion items (ie. whatever Pharrell Williams is deeming stylish these days.) It didn't even let the panel on "Shark Tank" sway it in deciding what to offer. This is a non-fashion fashion label with serious moral high ground, folks.
We talked with Buck Mason founders Erik Schnakenberg and Sasha Koehn about the trials and tribulations of running a start-up, on manufacturing their products exclusively in the US, why they turned down a lucrative round of funding from "Shark Tank"'s Robert Herjavec, and much more. We think you'll agree the made-in-America brand is a good fit for your lifestyle in more ways than one.
BUSINESS INSIDER: In Buck Mason’s mission statement, it says it’s “not excited by fashion.” What does that mean to you?
ERIK SCHNAKENBERG: We don’t focus much on fashion; the Pantone color of the month and trend forecasting isn’t really our thing. We take the staples — oxfords, khakis, jeans, and tees — and we strip it down. No unnecessary branding, no filler. Then we rebuild them with incredible fabrics and in cuts and colors guys look great in. The classics made better than the classics, that’s what we do.
ES: We just took our daily wardrobes and made it for everybody else. You look at Shoshuke Ishuzu’s editorial photography of American university students in the early sixties for his book, Take Ivy, and you realize stylish guys have been dressing the same way forever.
Henley shirts, khakis, jeans — it’s all codified. Buck Mason makes the same clothes that have existed forever using prime, domestic manufacturing, but we’ve completely revolutionized how you hear about it and how you shop for it.
BI: That's right. Buck Mason’s clothes are made in America. Why did you decide to keep your operations stateside instead of opting for cheaper manufacturing overseas?
ES: Producing domestically means keeping both eyes on quality. We design everything in Los Angeles and most of the fabric is knit six blocks from the office. We cut, sew, finish, and dye here, so we can catch mistakes any time during production. It’s accountability down to the thread.
SASHA KOEHN: You want to know who’s making your stuff. Job creation is important, too. It feels good to hire people stateside. There’s nothing we’re prouder of than the little team we’ve brought together. If we can make better products than our competitors and create jobs doing it, we’re on the right track.
ES: 97% of clothing purchased in America is made overseas and sold at a retail mark up of over 600%. It didn’t sit right to be an “American” brand that didn’t make stuff here. We knew a few companies that were creating American-made pieces, but your typical guy (us included) couldn’t afford them. So, we thought, “Let’s make high-quality, affordable goods, and let’s make them here.”
BI: A basic (but high-quality) T-shirt for $24 — we were not sure this still existed. How does the company keep prices affordable while also manufacturing everything in the US?
SK: Retail has evolved so much; e-commerce has totally eliminated the need for wholesale distribution and traditional media campaigns. And, reaching customers and creating buzz through inexpensive social channels has never been easier.
ES: It’s a sixty-dollar tee by any other brand. We source, cut, and sew it for $12. We could have sold it for $25 wholesale with retailers charging $60, but we figure our customers will keep coming back for the savings. Affordable pricing allows us to serve more customers and not be limited to a small demographic, like most of our peers in the luxury space.
BI: Tell us about Shark Tank: How has that experience changed your brand? We imagine being on national TV brought in a large number of first-time shoppers to the site.
ES: Yeah, it was pretty crazy. Sales increased 6,300% in three days, and in-store revenue went up 500% — easy. Of the surge in online traffic, roughly 65% of it came from consumers in the middle of the country. We've definitely introduced our brand to an incredible amount of people between the two coasts; we're selling products faster than we can make them right now.
SK: [Prior to Shark Tank], our guys were definitely more anchored on the two coasts… Our call for domestic manufacturing resonates with the middle of the country in a big way.
BI: Was it difficult to walk away from Shark Tank’s $200,000 offer? Why, ultimately, did you turn it down?
SK: It was certainly enticing. We both really like Robert and were excited that he came back in with an offer, but we were still giving up too much equity for our first round of funding. They didn’t air this, but we explained to the Sharks that we were anticipating raising more rounds and that this didn't align with our future growth plans. It was a tough decision, but we both stuck to our guns. No regrets.
BI: What are the best and most challenging aspects of working for a start-up? What lessons have you gleaned from the experience?
SK: Starting out, we had to do everything ourselves, which us gave us an all-encompassing grasp of the business — because we couldn’t afford to hire out. You keep that perspective as you transition back into leadership.
[With start-ups] there’s also no bureaucracy holding you back, which it’s incredibly refreshing. It’s a bit of a paradox, of course, because then there are immediate, potentially devastating financial consequences for every decision you make.
ES: It’s like always thinking that your girlfriend is going to leave you.
BI: Well said, Erik.
Now, we can probably all agree shopping at certain stores can be overwhelming due to the sheer number of products. Why was it important for Buck Mason to stick to a very select inventory? How did you decide what products to sell?
ES: Culling the line was essential. We really try to stick to what we’re good at, and what guys need. For example, we saw so much excess in men’s denim — so much needless filigree — so we got rid of everything. Subtracting, simple math: 5 pockets, no logos, and in three perfect fits using some of the best fabric in the world. Period. We think jeans should be vessels to the man — they should make you look good. No accoutrement, no statements.
[All of our clothing] harkens back to that subtractive approach. Our stuff is so pared down and smart, you’d be hard pressed to put together an outfit that looks bad.
'Shark Tank' investor Daymond John has mentored and inspired many entrepreneurs.
But he thinks that in some ways, working for somebody else is harder than starting your own business.
When he stopped by Business Insider's offices to talk about his latest project, subscription service Gillette Shave Club, he explained why.
"Entrepreneurship is great, and everyone talks about how difficult it is, but it probably is more difficult to be working for somebody," he says. "You have to navigate all these sensitive individuals."
He emphasizes that he never looks down on people who choose to work for others rather than starting their own business, because in some cases, having a boss is a smart choice. For instance, "If you work for someone else, it may be a temporary thing while you're gaining knowledge or contacts."
John himself started out this way — while founding FUBU, he waited tables at Red Lobster. He made the most of the job by studying the company's shareholder reports and figuring out how its business model worked.
He uses the term "intrapreneur" to describe people in a similar situation, who work for large companies but have a creative and innovative mindset, and believes they're well-equipped to be successful. "You need to still have the mentality of an entrepreneur," he says, "even if you work for someone else."
Mark Cuban is the billionaire investor best known for his roles as a "Shark" and the owner of the Dallas Mavericks.
Throughout his career, he's made over 120 investments, from large companies like Landmark Theatres to startups on "Shark Tank."
For all of the businesses he's been a part of, he's developed a set of "rules that have been almost infallible," he writes in his 2013 book "How to Win at the Sport of Business."
We've summarized the three he's used "religiously."
1. Understand the difference between adding value and benefiting from a bull market.
In the same way that some stock market investors think they're geniuses when they keep picking stocks that go up, failing to acknowledge that all stocks are doing the same thing, Cuban says entrepreneurs can fail to recognize that a good deal of their success is due to a fad or trend.
"There is nothing wrong with going along for the ride and making money at it, but it will catch up with you if you lie to yourself and give yourself credit for the ride," he writes.
Cuban says that he saw this happen with professional sports leagues in the aughts. He says that many team owners became enamored with rising revenues from television rights deals, crediting it to their own "brilliance." He says, however, that he and his Mavericks partners recognized that revenues were actually rising due to competition among cable and satellite providers. Cuban couldn't become complacent.
"It's a bigger challenge to recognize that the bull market may end and our programming needs to be of sufficient value to our customers and viewers for it to maintain or continue to increase in value," he writes.
2. Win the battles you're in before moving onto new ones.
Cuban writes that he had a chance to take Landmark Theatres international but that any time spent on developing a global presence was time not spent growing its national presence, and so he decided against it.
"You do not have unlimited time and/or attention," he writes. "You may work 24 hours a day, but those 24 hours spent winning your core business will pay off far more. It might cost you some longer-term upside, but it will allow you to be the best business you can be."
3. Don't drown in opportunity.
"If you are adding new things when your core businesses are struggling rather than facing the challenge, you are either running away or giving up," Cuban writes. "Rarely is either good for a business."
Melissa Carbone, president of horror attraction company Ten Thirty One Productions, tells Business Insider that after the $2 million deal she made with Cuban on "Shark Tank" went public, she was flooded with partnership and investment offers, some of which were quite attractive.
Cuban told her to take a step back and not let emotions make her impulsive. She says she still hears Cuban's voice in her head reminding her, "Don't drown in opportunity."
Mark Cuban is the creator of Cyber Dust, a private messaging app. His user name is +blogmaverick.
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