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Ivan Farkas Sep 20, 2022
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Inventors and entrepreneurs drive advances in business, technology, and culture. But in a time of unprecedented creative proliferation, it can be challenging for innovators to get their ideas noticed, or off the ground.
Fortunately for many, the long-running TV show Shark Tank has provided the essential link between inventors and industry to help launch dreams. It has also offered insight into some invaluable strategies for finding long-lasting success in various domains. We can learn vital business lessons from companies like Scrub Daddy, Bombas, and Squatty Potty, which are three of the most successful businesses to appear on Shark Tank.
Aaron Krause’s smiley-faced sponges are among the most successful shark-supported brands. Since winning a $200,000 investment in a 2012 appearance, Scrub Daddy has sold more than 25 million units and was valued at more than $200 million in 2019.
Krause and his sponges have also become a feel-good story for other contestants. Was the decider here the quality of the sponges? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was Lori Greiner’s sentiment when deciding to back Krause: “I know a hero from a zero. This is a hero.”
For his part, Krause said he practiced his pitch and knew his numbers. He said: “When you get into Shark Tank or present any product in front of investors, you want to be confident but not arrogant.”
Krause and Scrub Daddy demonstrate another strategy that’s becoming more and more relevant: social media outreach. A company or entrepreneur can do little wrong to cultivate a following and score viral publicity on platforms like TikTok, Twitter, and other digital gathering places. Neglecting social media may not spell doom for a company, but taking advantage of such an immense network can significantly boost one’s image and influence.
In 2017, Brian and Michael Speciale pitched The Comfy®, a full-body blanket with a hood. Of course, the shark panel worried about the product’s lack of unique identity as it is similar to other products on the market. Yet The Comfy® quickly went from zero to $150 million in sales.
This quote from Barbara Corcoran succinctly explains why its creators received backing: “a sweatshirt-slash-blanket with a hoodie, and I didn’t get the product, but I liked the guys.” Unlike other aspects, likeability is typically non-negotiable.
Some of the items that have performed the best on Shark Tank have had widespread health appeal. Take for instance the Squatty Potty, a bathroom stool that sold $1 million within 24 hours of its Shark Tank appearance and $222 in retail sales eight years on.
Similarly, the Simply Fit Board, an ab-building fitness device, was attractive to the health industry. It found prosperity by cashing in on the fitness trend market, especially through distribution on the QVC home shopping network. Pitched by mother-daughter team Gloria Hoffman and Linda Clark, the Simply Fit Board made $1.25 million as soon as the episode aired and has accrued more than $160 million in lifetime sales.
Good may be ambiguous. Or it may be obvious. Bombas is a charity-focused sock company with a pledge that for every pair sold it would gift a pair of socks to those in need. Despite cost concerns from the sharks, Bombas received a lifeline in 2014.
And it thrived. According to CNBC, the company was making $100 million a year as of 2019. More importantly, in terms of humanistic impact, Bombas has donated more than 50 million items, showing that an organization doesn’t have to sacrifice success for philanthropy, or vice versa.
As the accomplishments above have demonstrated, there are many avenues to success. Many times it’s impossible to predict what product will have skyrocketing sales, but employing the strategies outlined above will help make a positive, lasting impact.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.com / Jaguar PS
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