It’s been three years since our appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” Our time on the show transformed our business, and still influences our business philosophy today. No, we didn’t get funded, and yes, we felt pretty disappointed in the immediate aftermath of our appearance on the show. Who wants to get eaten by the sharks?
But after we got home and went back to work, we noticed something extraordinary: skyrocketing sales. Triple revenue days that just kept coming. What was happening? Turns out, rejection can come with its own set of gifts.
We didn’t get cash, but we got something better: the opportunity to showcase our company to people who truly believed in our mission, and a learning experience that helped us redefine our goals and helped motivate us to find new ways to serve our clients.
In celebration of our third “Shark Tankaversary,” we’d like to share the 3 most important things we learned on the show. Whether you’re an established business or just starting out, here’s our best advice for turning a “shark attack” into a one-of-a-kind success story.
1. KNOW YOUR NO’S
Spoonful’s CEO and founder Marti Wymer nearly turned down the opportunity to appear on “Shark Tank” out of fear—she didn’t want to be rejected on national TV! Well, we all know how that particular story ended. Rejection happened. The sharks gave the company a “No.”
But facing her fears and learning how to navigate a challenging situation turned out to be a far better investment long-term. And Marti never saw the experience as a failure because Marti and her business partner, Scott, knew that the entrepreneurial journey works best when you’re open to feedback—even the criticism. Especially the criticism. Know Your No’s.
We took the “No,” dove right back into work, and used the feedback from our time on Shark Tank to improve business. When asked how she feels about the opportunity in hindsight, Marti is always quick with her response: “No regrets! What an experience we would have missed!” Knowing the reason behind the “No” helped her retool her business model so future customers and investors had every reason to say “Yes.”
And it worked, Spoonful of Comfort continues to grow significantly after appearing on “Shark Tank.” All because Marti and her team knew their “No” wasn’t a rejection, but a second chance.
2. IT’S NOT ABOUT PROFIT, IT’S ABOUT PEOPLE
A big-name investor turned us down. Shoot. But, it didn’t matter. Spoonful wasn’t created just for funding. Our company was built on a foundation and passion for gifting, by a loyal fan base who love sharing love and kindness with their people. So, when “Shark Tank” turned us down, we weren’t lost. We still knew exactly what Spoonful was created to do, and we knew our people would support us in our mission, funding or not.
Right after “Shark Tank,” Marti remembers feeling “surprised and delighted but the number of supportive calls, emails, messages we received from complete strangers after the show.” It can be easy to focus on the negativity found in the news and social media, but in reality, it’s not about the naysayers— it’s about finding your people and serving them in the best way possible. “Shark Tank” reaffirmed our belief in the power of good people, and we continue to look for opportunities to pay it forward, even if it means complimenting a stranger in public (much to the embarrassment of Marti’s children.) And yes, Marti still reads every note from every customer, because she loves hearing first-hand how her business continues to impact lives for the better.
3. JUST KEEP SWIMMING
Maybe the sharks didn’t see the potential in Spoonful of Comfort’s mission, but Marti and her partner Scott never questioned what Spoonful could, and did, become. Our vision always included opportunities for growth— from sending a care package to a sick family member to thanking an employee for their hard work. Three years after “Shark Tank,” and we’re thrilled to see our vision becoming a reality. It just goes to show: you may get bit, but if you just keep swimming, you won’t get eaten. In fact, you just might grow.
We’re still here for the days you want to send a friend or family member something special, but we’re also capable of so much more, including offering businesses and corporations a chance to make and develop important personal connections. Our success stems from Knowing our No’s, (even when it stings!) remembering our people, and continuing to swim forward every day.
We’re grateful we took the risk of appearing on “Shark Tank,” and we’re especially proud of our growth since leaving the tank and jumping into the ocean of opportunity.