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- 03/27/18--14:08: _This innovative bru...
- 04/16/18--08:42: _8 ‘Shark Tank’ comp...
- 05/07/18--08:18: _A mother of 2 turne...
- 05/20/18--07:00: _A startup that make...
- 05/23/18--09:41: _Take a look inside ...
- 05/25/18--08:40: _Barbara Corcoran th...
- 06/04/18--07:37: _Barbara Corcoran sa...
- 06/09/18--18:39: _A 27-year-old entre...
- 06/11/18--09:55: _This $60 posture co...
- 06/12/18--10:04: _When the founders o...
- 06/15/18--10:31: _The 8 most successf...
- 07/03/18--05:43: _16 'Shark Tank' hom...
- 07/06/18--13:37: _Skinnygirl CEO Beth...
- 07/09/18--08:10: _These cleansing wip...
- 07/13/18--06:36: _A 'Shark Tank' entr...
- 07/27/18--05:37: _'Shark Tank' entrep...
- 08/06/18--07:03: _The 'Shark Tank' fo...
- 08/09/18--05:40: _The founders of a '...
- 08/15/18--06:12: _Startup founders wh...
- 08/15/18--08:53: _Two entrepreneurs w...
- The Brush Hero (as seen on "Shark Tank") is a $35 cleaning brush that uses pressure from a garden hose to effectively clean hard to reach spots like wheels, bicycles, and more.
- I tested out the Brush Hero, and it made cleaning my car's wheels, exhaust, and front grille a lot easier and faster.
- While it is designed for use on automobiles, it can also be used to clean outdoor furniture, pools, grills, pets, side molding on your home, and anything else you can think of.
- After struggling to find suitable shoes for her baby, a mom started making her own soft-soled leather baby moccasins ($25-$60) that are both durable and stylish.
- Her company, Freshly Picked, earned a spot on "Shark Tank" and has sold hundreds of thousands of baby shoes since 2009.
- Available in many eye-catching colors and prints, these adorable baby shoes make a great gift for Mother's Day.
- Like the "smart" thermostat and doorbell before it, the paper-and-pen notebook has now been upgraded for the 21st century.
- Rocketbook makes notebooks that let users access their notes on the web.
- In 2016, the Rocketbook founders pitched the "Shark Tank" judges on investing in the startup — and were rejected by every investor.
- 05/23/18--09:41: Take a look inside this avocado-only restaurant
- Barbara Corcoran recently made the point that bitcoin is perfectly suited to the real estate market.
- According to Corcoran, the attraction of bitcoin is the privacy it permits the buyer and seller, cutting out the middleman.
- However, she admits she will personally be refraining from investing in cryptocurrency due to its associated risks.
- Barbara Corcoran has appeared on "Shark Tank" for years, and has invested in many startups through the show.
- She is a successful entrepreneur in her own right: In 2001, she sold her real-estate company, The Corcoran Group, for about $66 million.
- Speaking with host Farnoosh Torabi on an episode of podcast "So Money," Corcoran said the most successful companies in her portfolio are run by "partnerships" — two people instead of one.
- Relativity Space is a 3D-rocket-printing startup founded by engineers named Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone.
- The two didn't have many connections in the investing world, so when they built their company, they decided to send Mark Cuban a cold email.
- Ellis said Cuban agreed over email to fund their entire $500,000 seed round.
- The BetterBack (as seen on "Shark Tank") is a $59 posture corrector that has completely eliminated any back pain I usually experience while sitting at a desk.
- I have two slipped discs in my spine and suffer from chronic back pain. I've tried plenty of treatments and products, but this is the only one that has worked.
- If you have any sort of back pain or posture problems from sitting at a desk all day, this product is actually worth your money.
- Coffee Meets Bagel is a dating app, launched in 2012, that offers a more curated experience.
- In 2015, the Coffee Meets Bagel cofounders appeared on "Shark Tank," where they declined Mark Cuban's offer of $30 million for the entire company.
- One of the cofounders, Dawoon Kang, said she was convinced that it was the right decision, even though other people called them greedy.
- 07/03/18--05:43: 16 'Shark Tank' home products that are actually useful
- Bethenny Frankel is the CEO of Skinnygirl, a brand empire she built through her role on the reality show "Real Housewives of New York City."
- In 2011 Frankel sold her line of cocktails for a reported $100 million.
- Frankel explained how a difficult childhood and a lack of money for much of her career influenced the way she approached entrepreneurship and business opportunities.
- GOAT CEO Eddy Lu
- Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo
- Best-selling author David Sedaris
- Clique Brands CEO Katherine Power
- Taking a shower after your workout isn't always possible, but no one likes showing up to class, the office, or a social event sweaty and smelly.
- ShowerPill cleansing wipes ($10 for 10)— developed by former college football players, tested by professional athletes, and loved by busy, active people — are the quick and easy solution.
- As seen on Shark Tank, these thick, disposable, alcohol-free wipes kill 99.99% of germs without leaving any sticky residue or strong scents and are conveniently packaged to take on the go.
- Wombi Rose, a cofounder of Lovepop, successfully earned an investment deal on "Shark Tank" in 2015.
- He spoke with Business Insider about how he and his business partner prepared for their big pitch, and his advice is relevant for any budding entrepreneur.
- He said that knowing the financial details of his company inside and out was most important.
- The husband-and-wife team behind Lollacup (now Lollaland) earned an investment deal on "Shark Tank" in 2012.
- But Hanna and Mark Lim only applied to "Shark Tank" on a whim.
- Once they were accepted, they practiced every single day and sought constructive criticism on their pitch.
- The founders of sock company Bombas appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2014.
- They landed a deal with Daymond John and, in 2017, Bombas brought in nearly $50 million in revenue.
- The founders said they didn't take the investors' insults personally because they knew it was all in the name of good TV.
- When she appeared on "Shark Tank" with her husband, Mark Lim, Hanna Lim was incredibly nervous.
- They were pitching their startup, Lollacup, which produced safer sippy cups for kids.
- But Mark told Hanna to remember that the investors were their equals, not their superiors, and that alleviated some of her anxiety.
- Successful "Shark Tank" alumni — the founders of Lollacup and Cousins Maine Lobster— say it's important to tell your story when you're pitching investors.
- That way, you can show them why you're the perfect people to sell this product.
- The founders say too many entrepreneurs overlook this element of their pitch, both to investors and to customers.
- But customers today want more information than ever about the companies they support.
- The entrepreneurs behind Kitchen Safe, a time-lock container, scored a $100,000 deal on a 2014 episode of "Shark Tank."
- But the more important takeaway for them was advice they received from guest Shark Nick Woodman, the CEO of GoPro.
- Woodman told them to change the name of their company so people wouldn't associate it strictly with kitchen-related items.
The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
Spring is here, and automotive enthusiasts from all over are starting to pull out their rides to enjoy the season. For car lovers (myself included), there's only one better feeling than just driving your car, and that's doing so when it's immaculately clean. Even if you have a garage full of special sponges, cloths, and cleaning solutions, there are some areas that require more attention, care, and delicacy than others. That's where Brush Hero comes into play.
Founded by self-proclaimed 'car geeks and cyclists' Kevin Williams and Gleen Archer, Brush Hero was inspired by their need for a tool to gently clean their cars and bikes. They started in 2015 with the goal of creating the best wheel cleaner ever, but ended up with a tool that could do much more. More recently the brand gained a lot of popularity and exposure after being featured on ABC's hit show 'Shark Tank.'
Described as "the ultimate detail brush," the Brush Hero is perfect for cleaning car, motorcycle, and bike parts, but can be used on everything from outdoor furniture and pools to charred grills and dirty pets.
The Brush Hero's unique design is what separates it from other cleaning tools. It features a rotating brush head that is powered entirely by water pressure from a standard garden hose. The handle is comfortable to hold and has a flow control valve to adjust the water. Not only does it save you a lot of elbow grease while cleaning, it will save resources, as it uses zero electricity and less water than a standard garden hose spray attachment.
After seeing the Brush Hero all over the internet and on 'Shark Tank,' I had to try it out myself. The startup sent one over and now it's a must-have accessory for cleaning my cars.
I own a 1988 BMW 325i convertible and a 1991 BMW 318is, and would consider myself to be a dedicated car enthusiast. As someone who has spent a pretty decent amount of money refinishing different sets of BBS wheels with mirror polished lips, powder-coated faces, and gold-plated hardware, keeping them clean is a huge priority.
During the winter, I usually swap a different set of wheels and tires onto my car to save them from getting destroyed with salt and dirt, but between being busier and driving less, they stayed on my car the entire season. On top of that, I hadn't washed my car a single time this winter. Although that's far from ideal, it provided the perfect testing circumstances for the Brush Hero.
Setting up the Brush Hero for use is as simple as screwing it on to your garden hose. For added convenience, you can use the included quick connect adapter, which allows you to easily swap between the Brush Hero and other hose attachments without having to screw and unscrew. In addition to the already-attached white brush, you'll also find a softer black brush to use on more sensitive surfaces.
I refuse to use a high-pressure power washer, as it can do more damage than actual cleaning, so the Brush Hero is the perfect medium between that and cleaning by hand. It packs an impressive amount of torque, but doesn't spin as fast as an electric power drill. The moderate speed and water flow is just enough to work dirt away, rather than blasting it off.
What I like best about the Brush Hero is the amount of time it has saved me while cleaning my key spots on my car. The chief issue I had with cleaning the tightly weaved spokes of my wheels by hand was the amount of time it would take. I would spend a solid 10 minutes on each wheel meticulously cleaning any brake dust or dirt using a microfiber cloth guided by my finger. With the Brush Hero I was able to get in between the crevices and cut my time down to about 10 minutes total. To be gentle on my wheels I switched to the softer black brush and it still got the job done. If your wheels are a simpler 5-1o spoke design, it would take even less time.
I also found Brush Hero to be great for cleaning other parts of my car like the exhaust and front grille. Instead of having to scrub away soot built up on the exhaust tips using a harsh cleaning solution, the Brush Hero eliminated it, bringing my muffler back to its original polished finish. When using it on the grille, I was able to clean in between the tight grooves — a part that is easily missed during a regular wash.
Whether you're an obsessive car enthusiast who spends hours on end detailing your car or you just need an easier and faster way to clean tough spots, I strongly recommend adding the Brush Hero to your arsenal of cleaning products.
The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
Throughout its nine seasons, the show "Shark Tank" has averaged four to nine million viewers. It's the biggest public platform that an entrepreneur could hope for, and just a 10-minute pitch on the show can translate to huge sales. Household names like the Scrub Daddy and Tipsy Elves all got their start after successfully striking deals on the show, but even companies that walked away without deals have done well, if not better than companies that did.
The founders of these companies took their "Shark Tank" rejections in stride, using them as learning lessons to nonetheless make millions in sales. Money from the judges would've been nice, but it turns out the national exposure can be just as valuable.
Check out the 8 companies that you'll be surprised didn't get deals on "Shark Tank"
The Bouqs Co.
Online flower delivery service The Bouqs Co. left the Tank in 2014 without an investment, but Robert Herjavec kept them in mind three years later when he was planning the flowers for his wedding. Herjavec eventually ended up investing after getting a firsthand glimpse into the process behind creating the beautiful arrangements. Co-founder and CEO John Tabis said that there were several days in 2017 when the company sold $1 million in flowers in a day. It's now valued at $43.1 million.
This smart video doorbell gives homeowners peace of mind about who's at their door, whether they're at home or not. When Ring founder Jamie Siminoff appeared on the show, he valued his company, then called DoorBot, at $7 million.
Since then, it's counted prominent investors like Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers,Qualcomm Ventures, Goldman Sachs, and Richard Branson among its supporters. Most recently, Amazon bought Ring in a deal worth over $1 billion, a testament to its versatile capabilities beyond home security.
The co-founder and COO of Kodiak Cakes, a natural food brand that makes whole grain, protein-rich breakfast options, went on the show seeking a $500,000 investment for 10% of their business. Though the Sharks all liked the taste and nutritional benefits of these pancake mixes, none of them agreed with the valuation.
Now, it's the fastest-growing pancake mix brand in the US, growing 80% year-on-year and approaching $100 million in revenue.
Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Unleashed Flapjack On the Go Baking Mix (12-Count), $20, available at Amazon
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
By pure virtue of their size, baby shoes are already among the most adorable things in this world. Moms, however, are not only looking for cute. As their babies begin walking, they're also looking for shoes that are durable and will actually stay on their kid's feet.
In 2009, Susan Petersen, a mother of two who couldn't find well-designed baby shoes, started experimenting with baby moccasin designs using some leather scraps she picked up at a yard sale.
She initially sold these soft-soled leather baby moccasins on Etsy for only $20 a pair, then took them to a 2014 episode of "Shark Tank," where she landed a deal with Daymond John. The deal later fell through, but the wheels were already set in motion for an explosion of success.
Freshly Picked is now a multi-million dollar company that sells newborn, baby, and children's moccasins and sandals in a large variety of colors and prints for $25 to $60 a pair. Its fan base comprises mothers of all types, including celebrity moms who love to step out in style with their babies. As you'll see in our roundup of the best Freshly Picked styles below, these are not ordinary baby shoes.
They're still handmade from 100% genuine cowhide leather, so each pair has a unique look. Meanwhile, the soft sole is perfect for children who are starting to walk. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, soft-soled shoes are recommended for early walkers because they learn by gripping their toes on the ground and don't need arch support yet.
The moccs run from sizes 0 to 7, and they're true to size, with room to grow based on average American baby and toddler shoe sizes. Kids are an active bunch, but the Freshly Picked shoes stay snug on their feet as they walk, skip, and run (with their parents chasing closely behind, of course).
For Mother's Day this year, get a mom or mom-to-be a pair of baby shoes that are well-constructed, long-lasting, and stylish. Freshly Picked moccasins are the practical yet irresistibly cute shoes that both she and her baby will love.
Gift a pair of Freshly Picked baby shoes — here are our favorite picks.
Cedar Oxford, $60, available in sizes 1-5
A pair to inspire nautical adventures
Sailboats, $50, available in sizes 1-7
Fruity fresh dragonfruit
Dragonfruit, $60, available in sizes 1-7
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Rocketbook, a startup that makes and sells "smart" paper-and-pen notebooks that let users access their notes on the internet, crashed and burned in an episode of "Shark Tank."
In 2016, Jake Epstein and Joe Lemay tried to raise $400,000 at a $4 million valuation, and left without a single offer from the show's judges. Now, the founders say it's the sharks' loss.
Since the "Shark Tank" episode aired in May 2017, business has been booming.
Rocketbook has launched four products and sold over one million notebooks since its founding in 2015. The Rocketbook Everlast, a notebook that wipes clean with water, is Amazon's best-selling wirebound notebook. According to the founders, the company has pulled $10 million in revenue to date.
"We've run a wrecking ball through the notebook industry by creating something that's a thousand times more useful than the existing product in that industry," Lemay told Business Insider.
Rocketbook's notebooks look like regular binders of paper, and writing in them isn't any more magical. But when you're done taking notes, you draw a check over one of seven icons — such as a star, horseshoe, or diamond — at the bottom of the page and take a photo of the page with the Rocketbook smartphone app.
The app edits the photo for brightness and clarity and sends your notes to whatever cloud-based service you choose. You might want notes marked with a four-leaf clover to go straight to your Google Drive, while notes designated with a diamond arrive in your spouse's inbox.
Some of Rocketbook's products are even reusable. When you write in the Rocketbook Everlast ($34) using any pen from the Pilot Frixion line, the ink erases with a damp cloth. That's because the notebook's pages are made from a polyester composite rather than wood.
The Rocketbook Wave ($27) zaps notes away when you heat it in the microwave, though it can only be nuked up to five times. Both notebooks use patent-pending technologies that the founders would not reveal — not even to the sharks.
How to swim with the sharks and not get eaten
According to Lemay, the "Shark Tank" producers found Rocketbook on their own. They invited the founders to apply to be on the show and flew them from Boston to Los Angeles.
Lemay said he and Epstein prepared for the show's taping by watching episodes of "Shark Tank." They wrote on index cards every type of question asked, and scribbled responses on the backs. When they arrived in Los Angeles, they walked with their heads buried in the index cards.
"We had a stack of index cards — I kid you not — five inches deep," Lemay said.
During the taping, the sharks peppered the founders with questions for about an hour. They talked over each other and interrupted the founders. In a word, it was "chaos," Lemay said.
Mark Cuban was rendered speechless at one point. Barbara Corcoran called it a gimmick.
Kevin O'Leary, another "Shark Tank" investor, suggested the founders were out of their minds to make a product that claims to be reusable. He asked how they intended to make money.
"The only reason I'm microwaving this book is to erase it, so I don't have to buy a new one. What's the matter with you guys?" O'Leary asked. "Don't you want to sell a second book?"
By then, Rocketbook had already shipped 75,000 notebooks to crowdfunding backers and other customers. The founders told O'Leary that customers buy more notebooks because they like the Rocketbook system — that it sorts and preserves their notes where they can access them remotely.
Lemay actually got the idea for Rocketbook after leaving behind some important notes. He was working as a sales executive at Salesforce at the time and was pitching another executive at a mid-sized company to buy Salesforce's products. Lemay prepared extensive notes for the meeting.
"I reached into my bag to grab my notebook, where I had prepared pages and pages of notes to add value to this meeting. I pulled it out," he said, "and I had the wrong notebook."
He wasn't broken up about walking away from "Shark Tank" empty-handed. One month before the episode aired, Rocketbook raised over $2.5 million in a crowdfunding campaign for the Rocketbook Everlast, making it the most funded office supply product in Kickstarter history.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article said "Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran of "Shark Tank" have invested $400,000 in an avocado-only restaurant". Alessandro and Francesco were still negotiating the agreement with Cuban and Corcoran at the time of the interview but they actually never completed the investment process so they are not currently among their shareholders.
Avocados are all the rage. So much so that there's now an avocado-only restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. It looks as if healthy just got a little fancier. Following is a transcript of the video.
Avocaderia is located in Brooklyn, New York.
The opening of the restaurant quickly went viral.
It goes through hundreds of organic avocados from Mexico each day.
Alessandro: So we decided to open Avocaderia because we realized that it was really hard to find healthy food that was actually not boring that was actually very tasty. And avocados are the perfect ingredient for that type of food because avocados are very healthy they have a lot of nutrients and it is also a nutrient booster when added to other ingredients. But at the same time, it is a fatty fruit and that makes it very tasty, very satisfying to eat. Avocados are also extremely versatile, so they go very well with a lot of different ingredients and as well as you know working well in toast, in bowls, in smoothies and desserts as well. so we can be very creative and come up with a lot of different recipes.
Francesco: I think that's really the beauty of our menu. You can get savory, you can get sweets, you can get drinks. And everything is avocado and most important everything is healthy on the menu.
Alessandro: "Shark Tank" was an incredible experience from the beginning to the end.
We were approached by one of the producers and then we went through the whole application process. We were like, maybe it is too early to do this, but then we said, no, why not? We are growing very fast and we could definitely use an investment right now. So we decided to join. Likely we were selected. It was a very long and tough application process.
So at the end from "Shark Tank" we were able to convince the sharks Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban and they invested $400,000 in exchange for 20% of the company.
The idea for us was really to try to get access to these people which of course are incredible entrepreneurs. They all built their companies and their fortune in a good way and they could also be good mentors for us. And so that's why we wanted to go there and look for this first investment to potentially keep growing the company.
So we are going to use this investment in order to further grow the presence of Avocaderia in New York, especially in Manhattan. We are currently working on opening our second location in Chelsea. We are very excited about that. And then we are going to be scouting for more locations. The plan is to open 20 locations in the next five years. Also of course in other cities.
Francesco: It's a great experience for customers because many of the products you see on the show — it's really hard to get to know the person that is behind the product. And being a restaurant you really have this like face-to-face interaction. So it's great for them to come, to see the restaurant, talk to us. We are very happy when people are happy. It has been so great for us.
Think buying and selling homes for bitcoins sounds like a fad? To Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran, it sounds like the future.
"It makes great common sense," Corcoran said in a recent interview with MONEY. "I'm being very optimistic because, as a long-term play, it's perfectly suited for real estate transactions."
Bitcoin's involvement in real estate is uncommon, but not unheard of. Properties have reportedly been sold for cryptocurrency from Texas to Manhattan, and there are currently 140 units for sale or rent on Zillow that mention Bitcoin in their listings. Corcoran, who sold the New York City real estate agency she founded for $66 million in 2001, says bitcoin home sales will only become more common in the future.
Why? "It's peer-to-peer, with no central anything, and that's why it's so powerful," Corcoran says. Such transactions, she explains, allow buyers greater privacy. "The main idea is to eliminate the middle guy."
In fact, Corcoran predicts bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will eliminate the need for banks.
"I really don't expect banks to be around 10 years from now unless they change their model," Corcoran says. "I don't see why it's going to be needed if bitcoin does what I believe it's going to do."
Not everyone believes cryptocurrency will catch on in the long run. Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett called bitcoin "probably rat poison squared," while Vanguard's Jack Bogle has warned investors to "avoid bitcoin like the plague." And, while Corcoran is optimistic about cryptocurrency in real estate, she says the concept does face some challenges.
For one thing, in a peer-to-peer crypto-sale there's no insurance or appraisal, she says, which makes people uncomfortable. And then there's the cryptocurrency's notorious volatility.
And there's one reason Corcoran says she's personally staying away from cryptocurrency.
"I lose my credit cards at least once a week, I lose my cell phone once a month," Corcoran says, "and I can't even imagine being like that guy in England, what did he lose, $127 million because he lost his private key code?"
Still, Corcoran believes cryptocurrency will survive these bumps in the road — and anyone who says otherwise is "guarding the old guard."
"That, to me, is the death knell of an old business," Corcoran says. "The big guys that control the marketplaces are always the last guys to see the train coming."
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Barbara Corcoran started her real-estate business, The Corcoran Group, with a $1,000 loan, and built it into a behemoth that sold for $66 million.
Then, she became a "Shark" on ABC's hit business show "Shark Tank," evaluating and investing in startups looking for funding over the course of nine seasons.
So you could say she knows what she's talking about.
On an episode of podcast "So Money," Corcoran spoke with host Farnoosh Torabi about money, from her childhood lessons to her present-day investments.
Torabi pointed out that Corcoran's fellow Shark, Kevin O'Leary, has said in the past that he sees a commonality among his most successful companies: They tend to be run by women.
Asked by Torabi if she sees the same, Corcoran said she hasn't observed that pattern, but she has found another one. The most successful companies in which she's invested tend to be led by "partnerships" — as Corcoran puts it, "two people for the price of one."
In fact, among her own investments, she finds those led by two men have been the most successful so far. "Isn't that weird?" she asked Torabi. "I'm going to have to trade businesses with [O'Leary]. I'd much rather be working with the girls and the guys."
Corcoran didn't name the startups she's talking about, but she's told Business Insider in the past that her most profitable investments from "Shark Tank" have included online cake company Daisy Cakes, women's apparel company Grace and Lace, gourmet popcorn company Pipsnacks, women's swimwear company Raising Wild, and food truck company Cousins Maine Lobster.
Out of the admittedly small sample size, Cousins Maine Lobster is the only one run by two men, cousins from Maine who moved to California. Corcoran told Torabi the cofounders "are like dream entrepreneurs."
Cofounder Jim Tselikis told Business Insider's Richard Feloni that some of the best advice Corcoran ever gave them was, "Everything that comes your way isn't a good opportunity."
Corcoran has also told Business Insider in the past that her most successful entrepreneurs tend to be people who are "street smart" and who take responsibility for their own failures. "When they're slammed they don't feel sorry for themselves," she said on an episode of Business Insider's podcast, "Success! How I Did It." She continued: "Every one of my successful businesses are run by entrepreneurs who are so good at taking a hit and getting back up."
Tim Ellis has an audacious vision for the future of his company, Relativity Space: He's making a 3D printer that he hopes will someday be used to manufacture rockets on Mars.
While Ellis' vision might seem like the stuff of science fiction, he says that he's never once doubted his plan for his company and that this confidence has led to several successful funding rounds.
Since founding Relativity Space in 2013, Ellis and his cofounder, Jordan Noone, have received a total of $45.1 million from investors including Social Capital, Y Combinator, and the legendary "Shark Tank" investor Mark Cuban.
Cuban has a long history with Relativity Space. Ellis says Cuban first agreed over an email exchange to invest in the ambitious 3D-printing company.
"The week when we decided to start building our own company, we realized that we didn't have any connections in the investing world," Ellis told Business Insider.
Ellis and Noone, who have worked as engineers at Blue Origins and SpaceX, respectively, took an unorthodox approach to securing funding. After they heard that Cuban responded to cold emails, they decided to pitch their idea for Relativity Space to his inbox.
"We didn't have his email address, so we guessed a bunch of different combinations and tried them out," Ellis said. "It turns out that his email address is pretty easy to guess."
Once the two landed their pitch in the appropriate inbox, it took a few short moments for Cuban to respond. He was in.
Though Ellis and Noone originally asked for $100,000, Cuban volunteered to fund their entire seed round at five times the amount, Ellis said, adding that the entire exchange took about five minutes.
"I was impressed at his email game to get back to us that fast," Ellis said.
When asked what it was about his pitch that made it so compelling, Ellis said he believes the concept for Relativity Space is innately attractive.
"Space is sexy," Ellis said. "I think the idea of 3D printing an entire rocket really appeals to people."
Ellis said that reaching out to Cuban taught him an important lesson about asking for help in building his company.
"If you have a vision that people want to see happen, and you explain it clearly, people are usually very receptive to helping or putting you in touch with someone who can help," Ellis said. "There's a lot of people who want to back great ideas and great companies."
Asking for help has landed Ellis other beneficial connections for his company as well, among them a seat on the National Space Council's Users Advisory Group, which advises on government decisions about outer space. Ellis said he was the board's youngest member and the only one coming from a venture-backed startup.
While many startups won't speak with the government early on, Ellis said, he testified before senators to give perspective on what it's like to come from a venture-backed company. The move paid off in big ways — Ellis said his government connections landed him a 20-year agreement to use one of NASA's facilities at cost, saving him what he estimates to be hundreds of millions of dollars in overhead.
Ellis rarely hesitates to reach out when it comes to furthering the interests of his company, he said.
"You might as well reach out," he said. "Basically the moment you decide not to try, you're already sealing your fate."
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Take it from someone with two slipped discs in her spine — sitting at a desk all day is no walk in the park. In fact, sometimes my back is in so much pain that an actual walk in the park is no walk in the park, either.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, half of all working Americans experience some form of back pain — including the youngest rung of the workforce. That means the "aching backs" we used to hear about from our parents now often apply to us, too.
This is often a result of the poor posture that desk jobs cause us to develop. I know for a fact that I'm not the only 26-year-old with bad posture, but there aren't quite as many people my age who also suffer from severe and chronic back pain.
In addition to things like stretch, yoga, chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, and massage, I've tried a ton of different ergonomic chairs, quite a few back rests, seat cushions, balance balls, etc. to combat the constant stress on my back that's caused by my slipped discs and generally terrible posture. After dumping way too much money into treatments that didn't help much, I found one thing that has worked for me — a $59 product you might have seen on "Shark Tank" by the name of the BetterBack.
The BetterBack isn't particularly pretty, and yes, its name is a little gimmicky, but it is extremely effective at reducing back pain. It looks almost like a harness, with a soft pad that sits behind your back and a connected set of straps that are placed over your knees as you sit. It uses the tension from the straps to correct your posture and relieve pressure from improper spinal alignment, effectively eliminating discomfort.
This is going to sound really dramatic, but hear me out: The Better Back has had a drastic impact on my quality of life at work.
After attempting so many ineffective and expensive treatments and testing out so many products to help my back, I honestly never thought that I'd be able to feel "normal" again, or that I'd ever experience what it was like to have zero pain in my spine. But the first time I tried the Better Back, it completely eliminated the buzzing discomfort I was so (frustratingly) accustomed to, which was usually at its worst when sitting at my desk.
When I try to describe to people the sense of physical relief it gave me, I pretty much come up short of words. And for a writer and someone who generally just talks too much, that's an extremely rare occurrence for me. I'm talking like, angels singing in a choir from above, children throwing flowers at your feet, suddenly a whole new person type of pain relief — I hope that gives you somewhat of an idea.
The company suggests that you use the Better Back for about 15-30 minutes a day to help correct posture and re-train your body's sitting position — but I just tend to keep mine on all day. Plus, because it folds up neatly into a built-in zippered pouch, it can also be easily transported for use at home or on airplanes.
You don't need to have a diagnosed spinal injury for the BetterBack to help out your discomfort. It wasn't necessarily invented to help severe spinal problems — it just happened to make an extra significant difference for me because of the intensity and persistence of my pain. But if it helped me as much as it did, I can only imagine how helpful it would be to others who experience general discomfort from misaligned posture.
If you suffer from back pain, particularly as a result of sitting at your desk all day, I cannot recommend the BetterBack enough.
When Dawoon, Arum, and Soo Kang walked onto the "Shark Tank" stage in 2015, they were hoping to get an offer from Mark Cuban, who they considered the most tech-savvy of the five investors on the show.
The Kang sisters were pitching Coffee Meets Bagel, a dating app that, at the time, connected users with friends of friends and gave matches just seven days to connect. They were asking the sharks for $500,000 in exchange for 5% of the company.
The ensuing exchange made for one of the more dramatic episodes ever aired. Cuban was the first of the investors to declare himself "out" — but just as the Kangs were about to walk off the stage, he offered them $30 million for the entire company. It was the largest offer in "Shark Tank" history.
The Kangs rejected the offer.
"We see this business growing as big as Match.com," Arum Kang told the sharks, adding that Match was becoming a billion-dollar company. (In 2017, Match Group, the company that owns Match.com in addition to Tinder and other dating services, had $1.3 billion in revenue.)
Today, Coffee Meets Bagel is one of the most popular dating apps, based on Apptopia's analysis of unique active users in the US.
"To get Mark Cuban to benchmark us at $30 million really was a huge testament and validation of all the work that was done to build this company," Dawoon Kang told me when we spoke by phone this month.
But "now more than ever," she said, "I'm so, so, so convinced that was the right decision."
In May, Coffee Meets Bagel raised $12 million, meaning it has raised a total of nearly $20 million since launching in 2012. It has earmarked the funds for initiatives including international expansion and offline social events for single people.
Kang says she's learned to trust her gut when it comes to making decisions
Coffee Meets Bagel works a bit differently than it did in 2015.
Every day at noon, men receive up to 21 "bagels," or potential matches, to like or pass. The app then curates the best potential matches for women among the men who liked them. LGBTQ users receive multiple matches per day, according to the Coffee Meets Bagel website.
In 2015, Kang told me that as soon as the cofounders declined Cuban's offer, they started receiving dozens of emails calling them "crazy," "greedy," and "stupid." She said that experience was but one example of a time when she and her cofounders defied popular opinion to do what they thought was right for their company.
Another example: When Tinder started taking off, many of Kang's investors told her to simply copy Tinder, she said.
"Ultimately, we decided not to," Kang said, "because that's not why I started Coffee Meets Bagel."
Tinder is good at "swiping and entertainment," she said, but "I'm just personally not interested in that."
Kang added: "I'm so glad to stay true to our original reason why we started, which is safety and quality and now intentional dating and relationships."
Kang said that in the early days of her Coffee Meets Bagel career, she "was of the mindset of, 'Oh, if people who are really experienced and know a lot more tell me that this is the right thing, then I guess they're right.'" Eventually, her mindset shifted: "No one has the right answer. My job is to investigate as much as I can, put together and learn as much as I can, but ultimately, I have to make my own decision."
She's also learned that she'll never be as confident as she'd like to be in any decision that she makes as an entrepreneur.
"You're doing something people have never done," she said. "I don't think you ever reach 100% conviction that this is the right thing to do. There's always a sliver of doubt."
I love tuning in to "Shark Tank" every week for my fill of inspirational founder stories and entertaining investor personalities, but one of my favorite parts is seeing the updates on past deals.
For many of the entrepreneurs, appearing on the show is a pivotal turning point. Unlike a lot of reality television in which the content is staged, it's not just for the cameras when they shake hands with a Shark. Afterwards, they work together to put their money where their mouth is and create thriving businesses, and there's no better example of the show's power than the following companies.
These products have become household names, and they have the sales to prove it. As you'll see, even though they share the common ground of "Shark Tank" beginnings, there is no formula or recipe for the type of business that does well on the show.
Get inspired by some of the most successful companies that landed deals on "Shark Tank" below.
The Scrub Daddy is soft in warm water, firm in cold water, and can be used for the toughest household cleaning situations. This versatile sponge premiered in Season 4 and remains the most successful "Shark Tank" products to date. What originally started as a sponge designed for auto body shops and mechanics led to QVC appearances, a deal with Lori Greiner, and more than $100 million in sales.
For something you probably wear every day, regular socks have a lot of annoying problems, and investor Daymond John agreed. Bombas makes comfortable socks with extra-long staple cotton to keep them breathable, extra cushioning where your feet need them the most, and a blister tab.
The company made $50 million in 2017, which is great news for its community partners as well: for every pair purchased, it donates a pair to a homeless shelter or community organization. Bombas has donated more than 7 million pairs to date.
Robert Herjavec's $100,000 investment in ugly sweater company Tipsy Elves in 2013 has turned into more than $50 million total sales since. In addition to festive sweaters, it also makes ski gear and costumes that are sure to turn heads and attract some compliments. If you watched the 2018 Winter Olympics, you might've caught a glimpse of Jamaica's bobsled team wearing custom Tipsy Elves warmup suits.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Nine seasons in and hundreds of products later, the show "Shark Tank" continues to entertain us as well as the panel of celebrity investors with creative pitches. However, that doesn't always mean the products are actually good. Some end up being a little too creative or out-there and border on plain gimmicky or "Who would even use that?"
We looked through all the "Shark Tank" products available for purchase and came away with a selection of star products for the home that made us curse and ask ourselves, "Why didn't we think of this earlier?"
Many solve for the wasteful design of many common products you already use, while others address the annoying inconveniences that everyone experiences.
Check out the "Shark Tank" home products that are worth buying below.
A spring-loaded laundry hamper
This hamper drops down as you add clothes and rises as you remove them, meaning doing laundry will no longer be that uncomfortable chore you never look forward to. It eases the strain on your lower back, so it's especially great for expecting mothers, people with bad backs, and the elderly.
A self-cleaning dog potty
If you've already tried many indoor potty training systems, your search ends here with the world's first self-cleaning dog potty. You can adjust the timer to automatically change a dirty pad one, two, or three times a day, or manually change it with a push of a button. The machine will wrap and seal the waste, keeping your home clean and odor-free. It's best for dogs under 25 pounds.
Note: Currently only available through third-party sellers
A rapid ramen cooker
Granted ramen is already a pretty convenient meal to make, this tool makes the process even easier. The water line stops you from overfilling the bowl, the bowl doesn't get overly hot, and you don't need to use a pot and stove. It's perfect for anyone who doesn't have access to a kitchen, including students living in dorms and office workers.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
You may know Bethenny Frankel from her lead role on "The Real Housewives of New York City," but don't dismiss her as simply a reality-TV star.
"I didn't want to be on the show," she told Business Insider for our podcast "Success! How I Did It."
"I thought it was going to be a bunch of drunk people acting crazy and a disaster. It was, and I ended up making money off of that, those drunk people."
Frankel's name is the driving force behind an expanding empire of brands. She's the brain behind Skinnygirl Cocktails, a company she sold to Beam Global in 2011 for a reported $100 million, while still retaining the rights to the Skinnygirl name.
You also may have seen her as an investor on the past couple of seasons of "Shark Tank." And aside from her businesses, she runs B Strong, a charity that provided disaster relief aid to Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria last year.
Frankel told us that she doesn't always have a grand plan but that she knows a good opportunity when she sees one.
And she's been taking advantage of life's curveballs since she was a kid, growing up around racetracks throughout New York state. Her parents weren't always around, so she learned how to look out for herself.
Listen to the full episode here:
Subscribe to "Success! How I Did It" on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or your favorite podcast app. Check out previous episodes with:
Transcript edited for clarity.
Bethenny Frankel: I grew up in a very crazy household, in a very crazy life at the racetrack. I don't think that some show with a bunch of morons fighting over who knows what is going to rattle me. I was never worried about the being on television. I'm cut out for anything. But monetizing the experience, I don't know how anybody didn't think of it first.
Richard Feloni: When do you think you had that first within you? Like you need to make something that has impact — you need to get out there and change things?
Frankel: I don't think I think of it that way. I just do. I'm not as much of a thinker about it as I am a doer about it. I'll have the idea, and then I'll go and do it. I don't spend a lot of time sitting around just in the plan. I build the plane while I'm flying it. Once the idea is born, that's when really my brain starts flying with all the ideas, late at night, and adding ideas, and thinking about how things can be changed and different, and products and formulations and taglines. That's when the hamster wheel really starts to get going, once the match gets lit.
Business opportunities are everywhere
Feloni: Did you have any indications that this was a path that you would end up on when you were a kid?
Frankel: I've always had an entrepreneurial streak in me. In high school we wanted to be able to have this big nightclub party, and so I rented out a space and charged the people in my senior class to get into that space and had a nightclub. When I was 13, I think, I wanted to have a party at my house, and so I worked at a bakery first to be able to pay for the party. Then I ended up also charging guests to come, because it was an expensive party, and I'd have to pay for all the cleanups, and my parents didn't kill me at the time.
Feloni: You even used a high-school party as a business opportunity.
Frankel: Yes, I did. Later, I worked at a clothing store in New York City. I've worked as a hostess. I've worked as a waitress. I worked later as a natural-food chef running different restaurants. I've done healthy meals delivered to people's homes. I was always hustling. I was always figuring out some way to just get by. It wasn't that I was really making any money. I used to sell pashminas. I was one of the largest importers of pashminas in the world.
Feloni: So, scarves?
Frankel: I discovered these pashmina shawls, which were these coveted items that most people didn't even know what they were, including myself. I took a very risky move and sent $6,000 that I did not have to India to a stranger. By the time that my multicolored pashmina arrived, I had had them all sold and orders for more, to celebrities like Salma Hayek and Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts and Kevin Costner for his girlfriend, his wife, or somebody like that.
But I was selling them to everybody at these pashmina parties. Then I had to take that to the next level and get a booth at the Magic Show, which is the apparel show in Vegas. Then I started distributing them to stores. I always had to take everything to a 10. Not everything worked. I expanded too quickly in the Princess Pashmina business, but I always had to take everything to a 10. I take it to the edge.
Feloni: Just going for it.
Frankel: My body's in motion. I'm just going for it, yes.
Feloni: Stepping back a little bit too — you've spoken a lot about your childhood, that it could be rough at times. Could you kind of explain that and how that shaped you?
Frankel: I don't know that I thought that it was rough. I just know now that it was rough, thinking back about it. I've seen abuse, alcoholism, eating disorders, lived at the racetrack, didn't really have any rules, was at the nightclubs when I was—
Feloni: Your father was a racehorse owner?
Frankel: My father and my stepfather were racehorse trainers. My mother was an exercise rider. Her father was a horse trainer. I grew up at the racetrack. Going to the betting windows when I was young. Going to nightclubs when I was 13 and 14. I had a very unusual childhood. I used to go into the city from Long Island by myself when I was 14 years old, to go to the Palladium. But I was always responsible, as weird as that sounds. I was an adult as a child. I saw so much as a very young child that I think it matured me in an unnatural and unusual way.
Feloni: How did that result in who you became as an adult?
Frankel: I don't know. Growing up at the racetrack is a very action-filled place. Gambling is the base, and I'm definitely a risk-taker and a gambler, and people call me fearless. I think the upstairs, downstairs of the racetrack, there are wealthy sheikhs and blue bloods and people with last names like Firestone and Whitney and Vanderbilt, and then there are the people on the backside, where I would hang out, who feed the horses.
Having a horse trainer as a father, you kind of rode both lines. He would be working for an owner who was really superrich, who would be over in the boxes and in the paddock, and then working with the grooms and the hot walkers by the shed row.
Feloni: How did that impact you, being in both of those worlds?
Frankel: Just seeing highs and lows, seeing I can handle any situation. I can handle being in a room with royalty, and I could also handle being in a room with the grooms that have nothing. I think I'm a very high-low type of person.
On the fringes of fame
Feloni: You went to NYU, right?
Frankel: I went to BU and then NYU.
Feloni: After you graduated college, you went to LA. What were you going for?
Frankel: I wanted to be near the entertainment industry. I wanted to be an actress. I ended up meeting incredible people — not from being an actress. That was the most powerless gig you could ever have. You have no power over anything. You're looked down on because you seem like you must be desperate. People know you don't have any money, and you're not in medical school or working in a job where you have any upward mobility. You're just a person who's asking somebody else for something, at all times, and I'm not into that. You're always auditioning to get somebody to like you and try to be something that somebody else wants you to be.
I wasn't for any of that. That did not work for me. I needed to be in the power position.
Feloni: What attracted you specifically to the entertainment world, as opposed to having power in, say, Wall Street or something like that?
Frankel: I didn't know anything about Wall Street. I didn't know anything about numbers. For years people have told me I would have been an excellent trader. But I didn't know anything about it. I had no interest in it. I would have been a great lawyer, but I didn't want to go to school for more years. I didn't want to be a doctor. Entertainment seemed like something. I had some access there. I had some connection to LA. I didn't have a big plan. This wasn't a big plan.
Feloni: In 2005, you ended up on "The Apprentice" when Martha Stewart was hosting it. How did that come about?
Frankel: I fought to get on "The Apprentice," because I had made a bet with somebody who said to me that there's this show with Donald Trump, and these people, and they're competing, and they're selling lemonade, and there's these tasks that you do. I said, "Oh my God, I would be great on that show. What is that show?" And the guy said, "I'll get on the show. You're not getting on that show. You would never get on that show." I said to him, "Mark my words: I'll get on that show."
At this time I'd created Bethenny Bakes, which was a wheat-egg-and-dairy-cookie company, because I was a natural-food chef working at a restaurant in New York. I didn't know how to tape myself, and I said to my partner, "Can you go buy the least expensive, lightest video camera, and can you videotape me?" He videotaped me selling cookies, and I sent it into "The Apprentice," and they called.
I went through the process of trying to get on "The Apprentice" seasons two and three, which I did not make, and I kept in touch with the casting people without annoying them. I just kept connecting with them, and evidently they were saving me for the Martha Stewart "Apprentice." That was how I got on the Martha Stewart "Apprentice," which I wanted so badly and I took so seriously. And I was broke; I needed the job.
Feloni: When you're looking to get here, did you see this as an opportunity to get on television, sell products — or that this would just be a chance to get things going?
Frankel: I think the Trump "Apprentice" was about the hustle. Just "I'm a hustler, and I think I would be good at that." It's like a scavenger hunt or something. "I think I would be good at that."
Then when it got down to being Martha Stewart, I wanted to democratize health the way that she did style. I wanted to be a natural-food chef. I wanted to be a chef on television. I was very specific about what I wanted to do. This was me planning to monetize what I do, long before anybody has ever done that. Everybody was just there to win the money, but nobody was talking about what they were doing, and their dreams and hopes, or some product, or anything. That was like an unknown concept, which makes no sense, because I can't imagine exposing yourself to reality TV and that kind of scrutiny and just drama and just toxic behavior without having an upside.
Becoming a 'real housewife'
Feloni: It sounds like there was a direct line between that "Apprentice" appearance and "Real Housewives of New York City"?
Frankel: No. There was definitely not a direct line.
Feloni: There wasn't?
Frankel: Not at all. "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart" got 11 million viewers, which was a bomb at the time. Then I used it as the driest sponge to try to squeeze out the liquid of it for a little bit of press and something. It's not that easy. It was, "Oh, I've cooked for Paris and Nicky." I probably made them a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich once. "I've cooked for Paris and Nicky.""I cooked for Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni on the set of 'Law and Order,'" which I brought them food sometimes. It was me trying to really work this thing, because no one was getting any press from it.
I remember I got a spread in Life & Style. My big moment was I got a segment with Hoda about your food personality, the emotionality of food. I did that on the "Today" show. I had my cards. I was so prepared. Now I don't prepare for anything. I did the segment. It seemed like it went well. I passed out, which I don't ever even sleep. I was just so prepared, and my brain just went into overtime.
Feloni: You actually fainted?
Frankel: No. I just came home and I slept. I just don't ever sleep. I passed out for a nap. That's just not my personality. Then I was just always hustling. I was hustling my cookies, and hustling trying to be a chef, trying to get on the Food Network.
I was at the sport event Polo in the Hamptons, and someone came up to me and said, "Here, we're trying to look for a fifth wife." Bravo wanted five moms for a show called "Manhattan Moms." They wanted them to be wealthy and aspirational and trying to get their kids into private schools, hard-to-get-into private schools. The production company was happy with the four that they had. They had already started filming. Bravo said, "We're not going to film them. We're not going to continue the show, and the show will get shut down unless you find the fifth." They had four women that were sort of seemingly wealthy and a little flashy in the Hamptons — not quite socialites, because socialites shudder at the thought that the housewives would be anything close to what a real socialite is, whatever the hell that means, because they don't do anything.
Then, on that day, they said that the producers were there. They ran into me. And I had a boyfriend that we weren't even close to getting married, and I wasn't close to having kids. I wasn't close to having any money — I had $8,000 to my name. They met me, and they wanted me. It was so funny because I was nothing like any of the other women and nothing like any of the mandate for who to cast. They pursued me; I said no.
A month later, I said it's not that easy to get on television, and maybe I should give this a try. Because if no one watches, then no one will care. If everyone watches, then it could be a success. I am a natural-food chef, and I did want to get on the Food Network, but maybe this is some sort of circuitous route. So I thought what the hell.
In the meantime, Andy Cohen was against it, because they didn't want someone who had preexisting television experience. Now they'll put actresses on, but at that time he wasn't into it.
Feloni: Andy Cohen from Bravo, he was one of the producers of the show?
Frankel: He was an executive producer. He was a development executive at the time. He was against it because he just thought that we don't want somebody who's already been on television. That casting tape must have been pretty compelling because they put me on anyway.
Feloni: Why did you want to be on the show so badly?
Frankel: I didn't want to be on the show. I didn't want to be on the show. I thought it was going to be a bunch of drunk people acting crazy and a disaster. It was, and I ended up making money off of that, those drunk people. It was, because at that time, people didn't do two reality shows. You wouldn't be on "The Apprentice" and then be on that show. Now it's like you could do 10 reality shows. At that time, that was like, "Wait, this loser is doing that reality show, then this reality show? She's now the reality-show girl."
I wanted to be credible. I wanted to be on a cooking show, about being a natural-food chef. But I thought it's not that easy to get on television and find a platform to monetize what you're doing. Over here, maybe I can focus on the fact that I'm a natural-food chef, and something just told me — something just told me to try it.
I remember where I was in the Hamptons. I can remember like it was yesterday. I remember looking at the contract. I remember it saying $7,250 for the entire season, includes every single thing from makeup to wardrobe to location fees to everything. I remember crossing out where it said that I would give any part of any of my business. The only thing I said was I'm not giving any of my business. I'll do it, I'll get paid whatever, but I'm not giving anything that I ever do, which became the Bethenny clause, which is now called the Bethenny clause.
Feloni: Why were they paying so little?
Frankel: The show had no budget. There was no budget, and people don't get paid a lot when they go on reality television. A lot more than that now — probably if you start you can get 10 times that. But it was an unproven concept. There was one "Orange County Housewives" show that had fine, average ratings. It was $7,250 for the whole season.
Feloni: When you signed that, were you just saying, "This is my chance to sell my products to a large audience"?
Frankel: No, I wasn't. I was just signing it, and I was just doing it. The man that I was with said to me, "You shouldn't be filming it all when you're not cooking." I thought that sounded reasonable, and then you get into the show, and you're talking, and you're living, and you're interacting. It's about a lot more than food.
I made a conscious decision. I remember that call to my friend at the time, saying, "What do I do? Do I not discuss that? Do I not do this?" It was early on. It was before even the first episode was made. I just decided if I'm doing this, I owe it to this audience to be honest and open about everything and just go for it. I was totally honest and open about everything, and I went for it.
Feloni: How can you be authentic when you have a camera crew around you and you have producers trying to follow a narrative?
Frankel: Well, the producers aren't in the same room. You do have cameras — but I've been doing this for so long. I did it on "The Apprentice." On "The Apprentice," they hide. They don't even speak to you. You're literally props. You get used to that sort of skill set. Maybe I'm different because of that. That was like boot-camp training, just "cameras do not exist."
Feloni: You felt prepared already?
Frankel: I never think about the cameras. I just don't. I'm used to it. It's just a weird skill set. I feel totally natural with it, and it's always truthful. From my perspective, it's always real. It's not manufactured. It's just what's going on. But it's what's going on within those people. You know what I mean? People will say, "Oh, is it real? Would you really have that conversation?" If I weren't on this show with these seven women, would I have that exact conversation? No. But if I weren't in this room with you, I wouldn't have this exact conversation either. It's like, that's the show that I'm on with these people. This is who I'm having lunch with. This is who I'm interacting with. And these are the conversations that I'm having with these people.
Feloni: Is that person in front of the camera a different person from who you are, like, around your family or your friends in private?
Frankel: I don't think so, no. I can be very tough on the show and very nice on the show, and I can be very tough in my other life and very nice. You don't see me as a mother, which is when I'm definitely my happiest, my softest, my most selfless. With my dogs too. You don't really see that. You don't get to see what I really am like in a relationship. You just can imagine that it's like this Cruella de Vil, whipping whoever I'm in a relationship with, which it's not like that at all. I'm a pretty good partner.
You don't get to see everything, which is OK, which is good for me. You don't have to show every single thing.
Feloni: At what point on the show did you realize that, OK, this is actually going to be a chance where I could build a business?
Frankel: I knew that I was going to get a spin-off. I don't know why; I just knew it. I knew it early on. I think I knew it in the first season. I could just feel it. I felt different, to be honest. I felt different.
Feloni: How do you mean?
Frankel: I just understood what was going on. Andy Cohen called me the Greek chorus and the narrator. I don't think he says that anymore, because I don't think anyone would like him to say that anymore. But I was able to connect to that audience and understand that they don't understand what it's like to pack a car to go to the Hamptons, and that you're literally packing like you're moving to Croatia to drive two hours to see everybody that you already know, that you probably saw this morning at the bagel store on the way there. It's like a satire.
I think that I had this way of connecting and narrating and commenting. I just knew that I was a valuable asset in this, just because I'm an honest storyteller, and there's a lot of comedy along the way.
Feloni: On the show, and when you had a spin-off, you shared some really intimate moments, such as insights into your pregnancy, the birth of your daughter, your relationship. Did it ever feel like a sacrifice?
Frankel: Yes, it's felt like a sacrifice, but it's a very high-paid sacrifice. It's a job, and you're not always comfortable at your job. I'm very lucky to have this job. If I were in a coal mine or working in asbestos, I would not like my job maybe. It's sort of like, "This week sucks. I look like crap on the show — physically, mentally. I said something stupid." Everybody doesn't like their job all the time. It is real, it is my interaction, but I am being paid.
Also, you'd rather have who I really am than be faking it. Many people — and I know exactly who they are that are on these shows — are kind of acting. They're being their best self. They're saying what they think they should say. They're saying what the viewer would want them to say. I don't do that. I say what I really feel, and sometimes people get pissed off. Because sometimes what I say could piss people off, but that's what I was really feeling. I'm giving it to you real. You may not like it, but it's how I really feel about it.
Feloni: I've actually seen a bunch of the show now. Things could get pretty crazy. Did you ever feel like maybe if there was a crazy fight or just something really silly on the show that that could negatively impact your business?
Frankel: There are a lot of things that can negatively impact your business. You don't get paid this to not take risks, and it's very scary. I wonder when the ride will stop. I don't think it will be very long before the ride stops, because I've done incredibly well. I have so much more to risk than when I started. I have partners that are multibillion-dollar corporations. I can't screw around. This is a big juggernaut business now. By the same token, the show helps this big juggernaut business. There's a fine line.
Feloni: In doing deals, have you ever had to defend yourself for being on a show that could get pretty crazy sometimes?
Frankel: I've transcended the having to defend the show, because of all the amazing success that I've created despite the show, and the relief efforts.
Feloni: But what about the time before that?
Frankel: Before that, who cared? I was nobody. What am I defending?
Finally making it
Feloni: At what point did you realize that you didn't have to scrape by anymore?
Frankel: When I was on the cover of Forbes and made that money from the Skinnygirl Cocktails sale—
Feloni: So like 2011?
Frankel: Yeah. But I don't even know that I realized I didn't have to — I guess I intellectually knew it, but I didn't feel it. It took me a while to start purchasing things and paying expensive bills for things that I would have cringed at then. Just like, today I got a bill for a $4,300 for a pool heater. Yesterday it was $5,000 to fix some paint. When you buy houses and you get into another level, every day it's something expensive.
Literally, before "Housewives," I would have been crying in a corner for a $4,000 pool-heater bill. I didn't have a pool to heat, but if there were any sort of bill that came for $4,000, it would have broken me. I would have been hysterically crying. It's very strange to live in a world where you can get a bill for a pool heater for $4,300 like you ate a sandwich and that would have killed you not so long ago.
Feloni: Did getting a level of success and money change your ambitions at all?
Frankel: It's bigger game hunting now. But by the same token, I know that I don't have to do any of the things that I'm doing, and it gives me a freedom. It gives me an exit strategy if I want it. But I haven't really done everything that I want to do in business. I look at business for myself — and I guess a little bit reality TV — as when the tables are hot, you press your bets. Right now the tables are hot, knock on wood. If they go cold, I'll walk. That's how I feel.
I don't want to be mentally stressed and unhappy. I have moments on "Real Housewives" where I feel that way. And yeah, I think to myself, is this really worth it? I'm balancing weighing the options and how long I should do it for. It's always a back-and-forth conversation.
Feloni: Would you ever sell the Skinnygirl brand itself?
Frankel: Maybe. Depends on the number. People have circled. I've just had someone circle, just had someone offer. It'd have to be the right number and the right strategic partner.
Feloni: When I'm looking at what you've been saying, it seems like having total control of your brand is very important to you. But Skinnygirl, is that just an element of it? Like, you'd be able to do something else after?
Frankel: 100%. There's the brand of Bethenny. There's the B brand. There's the brand of me just being a woman and a mother and an entrepreneur. It could be called anything. In this case, I own 100% of it. It's a great feeling.
Feloni: Where does "Real Housewives" factor into this now, because now you're established, you have your brand — what do you want to get from the show at this point?
Frankel: I still love this audience so much. This is my audience. I can be in a restaurant, I can be in a mall, and I can look at somebody and I know that they watch, that they know who I am. I know that we connect. I know it's a mom who is multitasking, trying to work, trying to get their kids to school, who is a certain age, who wants to be a little healthy, is just trying to look OK to get through the day, and not overly spoiled.
I know exactly who my customer is. I could literally point them out on a street. We connect. We have a relationship. They've helped me create one of the largest private relief efforts in history. They tell me when there's an infringement on a trademark of Skinnygirl in another country. They are my people, and so I love that connection. This audience is connected to "Housewives," and they love the fodder, and they can relate to this in their cul-de-sac. Something's going on that's similar at their country club, at their school, at their PTA.
Feloni: How do you personally define success?
Frankel: I define success through my daughter. I really do. I'm the most happy when we've connected and we've spent days together.
Feloni: How old is she now?
Frankel: She's 8. We call it "camp mommy"— I spend so much time with her. That's the most rewarding, fulfilling thing to feel that you're a good mother and that you're nurturing your child and reading books with them at night.
She's not a very on-the-phone, on-the-computer kid, so I feel that that's a success, because I love her just being a free-range kid. I want her to be in my backyard and out swimming and doing things that are natural, to try to preserve any of what I had ... Not me. I had a crazy childhood, but what kids had as a child was more natural.
But I have a great kid. I have a great relationship with her, and to me that really is the best success.
Feloni: Do you have a grand vision for what you want to accomplish with your businesses?
Frankel: I've got a couple of things that I'm working on that are going to be monstrous. I don't want to rest on my laurels. Skinnygirl was great, but that was a while ago, and so let's see if I can ring the bell again and again. It's been great to do so much charitable work and to be able to have the free time to do it and the means to do it. I'd love to do more of that. I'm going to make a lot of money and be able to give back even more.
Feloni: With your B Strong charity work, when you went to Puerto Rico after the hurricane, you were one of the first people there, along with people like chef Jose Andres, before the US government even sent relief. How did if feel for you to be there before the government was? What compelled you to go in the first place?
Frankel: I was there before Trump was there, which was surprising. It was like a war zone. It felt like you had to be completely rogue and you could do anything you wanted because nobody was there. It was by any means necessary. It was just: Get it done. Just figure it out, and get it done. Just find people you can trust, and distribute.
But at that time, you could drive 15 minutes out of San Juan with a truck — just a truck — and people would line up for two hours, hundreds of people, not even knowing what was on the truck. They were dying. They were literally on their roofs. They had been going back and forth from inside their house, wherever they could stand. Because it was mud — disgusting, crusted mud — that their cars were sealed shut with. Their house was filled with mud. They would be waiting on the roof for water. They were rationing water. One woman, her husband had such a tiny amount of his insulin left. They were waiting for people to come, and no one was coming.
This wasn't two hours out of San Juan — this was 15 minutes out of San Juan. It was insane.
Feloni: Were you compelled to go there just because nothing was really happening?
Frankel: I was compelled to go there because I'd gone to Houston, which I was nervous to do, when people were telling me not to go. Then I went to Jojutla, Mexico, by helicopter — also there before their governor — after a terrible earthquake, and so many people were dead. It was horrible. Then I guess I felt that I had started this movement and it was my responsibility to go.
It doesn't have to be a neat path to success
Feloni: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career like yours?
Frankel: You have to get on the road. You can't be stuck in your plan. You can't be stuck in your story. You can't be stuck in how good you think your idea is, because everybody will tell you what you want to hear. Numbers do not lie; people do.
I would say to be on the road, start the journey, and get dirty, and clean yourself off, and take another path. Get locked out, and find a way to climb in another way. You've got to get on the road and figure out what it is that you want to do, what value you add, what clicks, what doesn't.
Being stuck in a book isn't going to do it. Being stuck in your business plan isn't going to do it. Being obsessed with knowing exactly what you want to do at a very young age isn't going to do it either. I didn't know what I was going to do until I was in my late 30s, and I still don't even know. But literally, I wasn't even on any close path, because I did so many things and traveled and had so many boyfriends and businesses, which all was an education to ultimately hone in and find out what your real passion is and what you're really great at. I didn't know any of this.
Feloni: When you're pushing forward, did you have a point where you questioned yourself? Where you questioned what you were doing in the first place?
Frankel: Before getting on "The Apprentice" and doing the cookies and the pashminas, I definitely questioned. I had no money. I was trying to pay my rent, which was $2,600, which is like $1 million to me now, maybe more. I couldn't do it, and I had to sell things. My assistant was getting paid more than I was. I couldn't light the match, and I was in my 30s.
But I would say everything is your business. When I was in a bakery, if you're chopping Christmas trees, if you're delivering papers, if you're making coffee at your job. But the people who say, "I've got this, I'm on it"— you make everything your business. You're going to make the best latte possible. Those people are the people who are successful, not the people that are sitting there making $24,000 a year, complaining that they shouldn't be making coffee, that they shouldn't be doing this. They didn't go to school for this. It's called tough sh--. Tough sh--.
Do the job. Just do the job. Do whatever job it is. Because I've done every single job — you never know when it's going to help you and you get to the next job.
Feloni: Just keep pushing forward.
Frankel: Yeah, of course.
Feloni: Cool. Well, thank you so much, Bethenny.
Frankel: Awesome. Thank you.
There's a somewhat disparaging joke that circulates within gyms that if you leave a workout or practice without showering, you're "taking a shower pill." For athletes like former UC Berkeley football players Justin Forsett, Wendell Hunter, and Wale Forrester, taking a shower pill was a common practice when their schedules were lined back to back with workouts and classes. Showering every time they sweat wasn't realistic, but they also hated being that smelly athlete sitting in class.
After noticing there were many athletic products made for hydration, performance, and recovery, but few for hygiene, they developed an athletic body wipe called ShowerPill to combat the hygienic problems that they and their teammates experienced every day.
Accustomed to performing on the national stage of the football field, Forsett, Hunter, and Forrester didn't see as much success when they brought ShowerPill to "Shark Tank" in January 2018. The judges weren't convinced by the company's financial numbers, but they did like the idea, and the success of ShowerPill after the show has shown that it has resonated with consumers, too.
While most of us aren't college athletes, we can relate to the struggle of not having enough time to bathe ourselves before rushing off to our next commitment. ShowerPill wipes make it easy to clean your entire body so you can walk into class, the office, or other public space without feeling embarrassed about the way you look and smell.
They contain the FDA-approved antimicrobial agent benzalkonium chloride to kill microorganisms and prevent their future growth, as well as aloe vera, vitamin E, and witch hazel to soothe your skin. Like other types of body wipes or wet wipes on the market, they're very effective at killing germs — 99.99% of them, in fact — but unlike other wipes we've tried, they don't leave behind any uncomfortable sticky residue or strong scents. They also don't contain alcohol, parabens, or sulfates, and they're animal cruelty-free.
Each wipe is thick and sturdy, working like a washcloth to eliminate sweat, dirt, and body odor. Because it comes in a single-serving packet, you can conveniently store a few in your bag or locker for any future situation that calls for help.
I tried the ShowerPill wipes after workouts of varying intensities, from a light run to a class that left me literally dripping with sweat. I expected the wipe to easily clean up my thin layer of sweat and slight odor after the run, but what I didn't expect was how effectively it took care of my body after intense activity.
I wasn't sticky, and I smelled clean, but not clinically so. Sometimes it's clear from the smell that someone is trying to overcompensate for not taking a real shower by using an excessive number of wipes, but I smelled and felt natural after using just one ShowerPill wipe. Thanks to the single-use, individually packaged design, I could travel light instead of weighing my bag down with an entire bulk-size pack of wipes. Throw a packet in your car, backpack, office desk drawer, and locker, and you're set with a reliable shower backup.
Tested and loved by both professional athletes and ordinary folks like myself, ShowerPill wipes were designed for anyone who leads an active, busy lifestyle. However, their use extends beyond post-exercise hygiene. They can also be used to help people in need and crisis when they don't have access to clean bathing water. The company has donated tens of thousands of ShowerPill wipes to homeless relief organizations and victims of the Flint water crisis, Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Maria, proving the product's versatility and importance.
As shown through the above situations, a "shower" significantly affects not only the way people physically feel but also their sense of personal dignity. A box of ShowerPill wipes is a smart supply to pack on long camping and hiking trips, in household emergency kits, and for other situations where you can potentially lose access to clean water. In the end, you should pull out a ShowerPill wipe whenever you want to feel, smell, and be clean in a convenient, no-fuss way.
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In the nine years "Shark Tank" has been on the air, we've seen hundreds of hopeful entrepreneurs pitch their ideas in front of a panel of celebrity investors, only for a fraction to actually land a coveted business deal.
Wombi Rose and John Wise did exactly that on a 2015 episode of "Shark Tank" when they persuaded O'Leary to invest in their company, Lovepop, which makes pop-up greeting cards. Three years later, Lovepop has mushroomed from six employees to more than 1,000 worldwide.
Rose recently told Business Insider how he and his business partner prepared for "Shark Tank," and his advice is relevant for anyone preparing for a big pitch.
"We probably watched almost every episode of 'Shark Tank' in preparing. I think it's a really good way to understand what kinds of questions we would be asked and how we needed to prepare," Rose said.
"We made sure that we knew who was going to answer which questions so that we wouldn't be nervous in the moment, trying to come up with answers — we had already thought about what we were going to be asked."
Rose said he and Wise noticed that in previous episodes, entrepreneurs often got tripped up on financial questions on details like their company's profit margins or growth projections.
"I was surprised by how many very good business-related questions we were getting and just how deeply they dove into the numbers of everything in the business," Rose said. "We knew we had to be really solid on our financials, but I was really surprised by how much they probed and how deep they dug, and how we essentially had to give them every line of our financial model throughout the course of filming."
Still, despite the hard work, nothing could prepare Rose for the real thing.
"In terms of the intimidation, you've seen the show so many times, and then you're standing in front of those doors before they open, and I think it was probably one of the most nerve-racking moments of our lives, that anticipation," Rose said. "But once we got started telling our story you kind of forget about all the cameras and the lights, and you're just into pitching mode.
"At that point you're just telling a story you know really well because it's everything we've been doing for the last year and a half."
Their preparation paid off: Both O'Leary and Robert Herjavec made offers to invest $300,000 in Lovepop for a 15% share of the company, with O'Leary getting the nod in part because of their shared Boston connections. Thanks to O'Leary's investment, Lovepop says its sales have surged to more than $8 million from $300,000.
Rose offered one piece of advice for entrepreneurs trying to score a deal on "Shark Tank" or anywhere else.
"Make sure what you're doing is what you love," he said. "If you're taking someone's money to go build a company, you want to make sure it's something you're personally passionate about, because you're going to be doing it for a long time."
It was just before midnight in spring 2012. The kids were asleep, and Hanna and Mark Lim were assembling sippy cups in their living room.
In the background, the TV was tuned to an early season of "Shark Tank."
"We were watching and having such a great time commenting on what we would have done," Mark Lim told me. "We said, 'You know, I bet if we went on that show, we would do great.' We were like, 'Yeah, honey, you would do great. We were kind of pumping each other up.'"
They were only joking though. Their business, Lollacup, was still in its infancy.
On his way back from the kitchen, Mark decided, just for kicks, to look up the date of the next "Shark Tank" casting call, in Los Angeles.
"Lo and behold, it was the next morning," he told me. "We said, 'You know what? What do we lose? We'll be a little tired, but let's just wake up super early, drop the kids off at our parents, and we'll see what happens." Still giggling, they filled out an application.
The next morning, they waited seven hours in line for their turn to audition. When they were called back a few months later, things started to feel real — a little too real.
"We asked, 'Is there any way we could delay this for a year, for next season, so that we can have some more traction and figure out our overall strategy?" Mark remembered.
The team's answer? "Absolutely not. It's now or never."
"So we went through with it," Mark said. They were scheduled to pitch the sharks in late summer, and in the months leading up, "we proceeded to watch every episode, write down each question, and then have a typed-out answer, like how we would answer."
Mark went on: "We got in front of people who were not afraid to criticize us." He and Hanna practiced every single day, he said, "until we were tired of the word 'Shark Tank.'"
The Lims' appearance on 'Shark Tank' was dramatic
The Lims appeared on season three, episode 12 of "Shark Tank," requesting $100,000 for a 15% stake in Lollacup. They explained that the cup was a better alternative to traditional sippy cups with straws, which can damage kids' teeth. To ensure safety, the cups were made in the US instead of overseas.
Kevin O'Leary made the first offer, $100,000 for 50%, but he wanted to produce the cups offshore. Daymond John matched O'Leary's offer, but wanted the Lims to get out of a deal they'd recently made with a sales agent.
Other sharks took the bait, and things got tense.
Robert Herjavec asked the Lims if they had a counteroffer, and Mark came back with $100,000 for 40%. Mark Cuban jumped out of his chair — "Yes! I'm in!"— but Mark first wanted to see if Herjavec would accept his counteroffer.
John tweaked his offer to $100,000 for 30%, but when Hanna said they'd rather partner with Cuban and Herjavec, John went back out.
Ultimately, the Lims struck a deal with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec: $100,000 for 40% of the company.
"That's the classic thing with business and entrepreneurship," Hanna told me. "When the opportunity arises, you have to seize it."
That's how they approached their appearance on Shark Tank. Hanna added, "We haven't really looked back."
SEE ALSO: When the founders of dating app Coffee Meets Bagel turned down Mark Cuban's $30 million offer on 'Shark Tank' 3 years ago, they got dozens of emails calling them 'crazy,' 'greedy,' and 'stupid' — but they still aren't sorry
"No one would want to sit in and watch one of my regular investor meetings," said David Heath. "They’re pretty cordial. People are asking really thoughtful and soft questions."
Heath is the cofounder, along with Randy Goldberg, of sock company Bombas. In 2014, they appeared on an episode of "Shark Tank," ultimately landing a deal with Daymond John: $200,000 in exchange for 17.5% of their company, plus the financing of the inventory.
Today, Bombas is one of the biggest "Shark Tank" successes: Heath told Business Insider’s Richard Feloni that the company had been profitable since 2016 and brought in "just under $50 million" in revenue in 2017.
John told Feloni that Bombas was his best investment, largely because the company’s social mission — donating socks to homeless shelters — is also good for business.
Like most interactions in the tank, the back-and-forth between Goldberg, Heath, and the sharks back in 2014 was intense — notably more so than your typical investor meeting. But the Bombas founders said they weren’t especially fazed.
"What we told ourselves prior to walking in," Heath said, "is that at the end of the day, you have to remind yourself that it’s a television show."
The founders' real reactions to the investors' insults weren't shown on TV
At one point after Bombas’ pitch, Kevin O’Leary (a.k.a. "Mr. Wonderful") told the founders: "Guys, a $4 million valuation [Bombas had valued their company at $4 million at the beginning of the episode] in a total commodity of socks is ludicrous. And I think reality will strike because you guys are still sock cockroaches."
O’Leary added that Bombas had no market share or retail exposure yet.
Goldberg and Heath said they couldn’t help but laugh when O’Leary likened them to insects. "We thought it was really funny, that it was a really funny comment, rather than being like, 'Oh, we’re so offended that you called us a 'sock cockroach,’" Heath said.
That’s not what appears on TV. Instead, the founders are straight-faced and Heath says, "You could have said that to the guy who started Under Armour, too."
The Bombas founders were similarly tickled when the TV promotion for that episode of "Shark Tank" came out. There’s a clip of Goldberg dabbing perspiration from his face with a napkin — it looks like he’s cracking under pressure.
But Goldberg told me that moment really happened before the Bombas founders delivered their pitch, when they had to stand under the hot lights for 30 seconds.
"We thought it was pretty clever," Goldberg said of the producers’ decision to show him sweating. "We don’t really take ourselves too seriously."
Hanna Lim clearly remembers trying out for "Shark Tank."
There she was with her husband, Mark Lim, pitching their fledgling startup, Lollacup. The company produced safer sippy cups for kids, though it's since expanded into other products for infants and toddlers and is now called Lollaland.
"I was literally shaking while holding the sippy cups," Hanna told me.
By the time they were scheduled to appear on the "Shark Tank" stage, in 2012, Hanna's nervousness still hadn't abated.
But as the doors to the tank were opening, Mark said something to Hanna that calmed her down.
"He was like, 'Listen. We're here pitching to investors who are essentially our equals. We're not here for a handout; we're not here to beg. This is an investment. We're potentially handing over part of our company that we've built.'"
Looking back, Hanna told me, "I think that was very powerful in shaping the way I personally approached the pitch and our 90 minutes of negotiation." (The "Shark Tank" episodes are edited so that each company only gets a limited amount of air time.)
Mark said he learned that lesson in business school, at the University of California, Los Angeles Anderson School of Management. As part of the program, he and his classmates pitched ideas, concepts, and business plans in front of professors and working venture capitalists.
Interestingly, Mark's advice to Hanna sounds similar to real-estate mogul and "Shark Tank" investor Barbara Corcoran's advice to entrepreneurs. As Laura Woods at GOBankingRates reported, Corcoran has told entrepreneurs to remember, "I [the entrepreneur] have just as much right to be here as you [the investor], I'm just as smart as you are. You might not think I'm smart, but I know I'm smart. Guess what, I've done a lot. Don't you dare look down on me."
Ultimately, the Lims struck a deal with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec: $100,000 for 40% of the company. Since then, Lollaland has passed $2 million in sales.
Mark summarized what he learned in business school. "When you're going into a deal, you keep your eyes forward," he said. "Not up or down. You're not looking down on someone, nor are you begging. It's a two-way exchange."
When Hanna and Mark Lim appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2012, they knew that the product they were pitching could seem pretty generic.
The Lims' company, Lollacup, produced safer sippy cups for kids, made in the US to ensure safety. And while they understood why that concept was revolutionary, they also understood that other people might not see it that way at first.
"We were launching a sippy cup, which is sort of ubiquitous for parents," Hanna said.
So to gain an edge in front of the investors, the Lims made it a priority to tell their story.
When one of the sharks, Lori Greiner, asked to hear about the Lims' background, Hanna explained that she and Mark were middle-school sweethearts, and that they'd been dating since 1992. Since then, they'd married and had two daughters.
The Lims also shared the inspiration behind Lollacup: their frustration finding a safe and hassle-free sippy cup for their daughter. In other words: why the two of them were perfectly positioned to sell the best sippy cup out there.
Ultimately, the Lims landed a deal with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec: $100,000 for 40% of their company. Lollacup is now called Lollaland, and has since expanded into more products for infants and toddlers.
Today, the Lims make it a priority to share the same story they told on the "Shark Tank" stage with a wider audience. "Our customers want to know that it's two parents that were the brainchild behind this and that we put everything we have into it," Hanna said.
Customers today want more information about the companies they support
Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac have a similar philosophy. The founders of Cousins Maine Lobster also appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2012, and they made sure to paint a picture for the sharks of what it was like growing up eating lobster with their family in Maine. ("You're standing alongside the Atlantic Ocean, smelling that salty air," Tselikis said during their pitch.)
Tselikis and Lomac wound up winning $55,000 from Barbara Corcoran, in exchange for 15% of their company.
They've continued to make it a priority to tell their company's origin story. The Cousins Maine Lobster website features a photo of the founders as kids, in Maine with their grandfather, holding a lobster.
For Tselikis and Lomac, their story is a way to not only win over investors, but also to make sure their franchisees run the business just like they would. All their franchisees are sent to Maine, where they spend time on lobster boats and hold live lobsters in their hands.
"With our lobster, it's not just having the best product in the world," Tselikis said. "It's telling them our story, because our customers, just like our franchisees, want to get on board with something they have an emotional connection to; they want to get behind a movement."
The founders of Lollaland and Cousins Maine Lobster agree that sharing your company's story is more important than ever these days — and that too many entrepreneurs overlook that piece of running a business.
"Now more than ever," Mark Lim said, "especially with information on the Internet being so accessible, down to the point where you can actually look up the founder and CEO of every product that you buy, I think it's a huge part of being able to connect with consumers to just be yourself and be authentic."
Tselikis agreed: "People care about what's going into their body, where it comes from and why, the story behind the business," he said. "That stuff matters more and more."
Still, he said, "Young entrepreneurs sometimes miss their story, who they are and they don't develop it well enough."
Whether it's a lobster shack or a local coffee shop, "it's nice when you go into a business and you do get a really clean snapshot of who the person is and what they stand for," Tselikis added. "It makes it a lot easier and more fun to support."
They had successfully sold two investors on their product Kitchen Safe, a plastic storage container with a time-lock lid that prevents users from accessing junk food or anything else they want to cut back on.
But a $100,000 deal wasn't the only thing they walked away with. A piece of advice one of the Sharks gave them ultimately led the pair to change the name of their product, a risky move they say has brought them even more success.
The Shark was Nick Woodman, the CEO of GoPro and a guest investor on the show that episode. During the pitch, Woodman suggested that Kitchen Safe was the wrong name for a product that could be used to store not just snacks, but other items people might want to cut back from using, like alcohol, cigarettes, credit cards, or their phone.
"Kitchen Safe is maybe a little bit limited as a company name, because you're going to want to grow into new products, and perhaps new verticals where this is not even in the kitchen," Woodman told the entrepreneurs.
He continued: "I was really lucky. Originally I just meant for GoPro to be a surf camera company, and thankfully, I didn't name the company 'Surf Camera.' So I don't think that people are going to naturally think to put anything other than food in this."
Despite his reservations on the product's name, Woodman offered the pair $100,000 for 20% of the company in a joint deal with Lori Greiner, which Krippendorf and Tseng accepted.
Sure enough, a few weeks after the show aired, the pair took Woodman's advice to heart and rebranded Kitchen Safe as kSafe, the name it goes by today.
"When I invented this, I was thinking about food. That was my use," Krippendorf told Business Insider.
But the change to kSafe has had a big impact on the way customers perceive the product.
"It speaks to people in different ways," he told Business Insider. "If you're sitting there using it for pills, or medications, or alcohol, or cigarettes, it's not really kitchen. And kSafe really speaks to electronic use, because a lot of people out there want to disconnect from their phone."
Cementing the pivot to a more general container, the company introduced a miniature version of its product to be used for phones and other devices that is now their most popular seller, Krippendorf said. In all, half of kSafe customers use the container for something other than food, he said.
Four years after their appearance on "Shark Tank," Krippendorf said the company has sold $2 million in kSafes and continues to grow — something that may never have been possible had it kept its original name.
"Nick Woodman’s comments about the name really resonated with us," he told Business Insider. "When someone incredibly successful gives me advice, I tend to follow it."