to, and through, the Tank
To my knowledge, there are 3 main ways that you can get on Shark Tank. All require a bunch of luck. #1 - You can audition in person. #2 - You can submit an application online. #3- You can know someone who knows a casting producer. Through my job at the time as the Men's Grooming Buyer at Birchbox, one of the brands I managed happen to know one of the casting producers, and introduced me to them over email.
At the time, I was in Israel playing in the World Lacrosse Championships, but they loved my apparel concept and wanted me to send an audition video asap! So I quickly made one, the journey started.
Top Left: The first sample I ever received...rocking it at the Birchbox offices! Top Right: Me playing vs. Ireland in the 2018 World Lacrosse Championships. Bottom: Me in my audition video.
Top Left: Flying over the Grand Canyon on NY --> LA flight. Top Right: Couple of the Kanga dudes getting hyped. Bottom: me posing with a sweet mural that was freshly painted by a company called...Overalls mural. Destiny!
After a couple months of paperwork, weekly calls with the production team planning my pitch and stage set...I finally got the call confirming I'd actually be flown out to LA. Every step along the way nothing was guaranteed. At any point the producers could've said we don't think this is a good fit, you're not ready, the show hasn't been picked up for another season...extremely nerve-wracking and exhilarating at the same time. It was a relief to finally get the plane ticket...but little did I know things were just getting started!
One of the coolest things about being on the show is meeting a bunch of other amazing small businesses. A group of awesome guys from Clemson University created a company called Kanga with a very clever product - a Koozie for your case of beer. Genius! We all became instant buds and hung during the entire trip together.
I was in front of the Sharks for about 30 minutes, which was then edited down into about an 8-minute segment for TV. I was the first entrepreneur to go into the tank after the sharks had lunch...so I wasn't able to hear anyone else's pitches, and have a second to prep. I was given a walk through of the hallway, where I would stand, where the sharks would sit, etc...and then brought back to the beginning right outside the door, and one of the producers said, "Ok Kyle, you ready?" and I walked out with the sharks sitting there about 2 minutes later.
I have been so lucky through my job at Birchbox, coaching group fitness classes, and presenting at business school (MBA students are scarier than sharks in my opinion haha!), that I felt pretty calm, aware, and collected standing out there. I knew my business and my pitch like the back of my hand, and was approaching it like just another investor discussion.
I genuinely wanted to make a deal with one of the Sharks, and was not just going on there for the amazing (potential) awareness and publicity my brand would receive. While I was initially bummed I didn't get the chance to create a partnership with one of them, I realized I still owned 100% of my company, and had thousands of incredible customers that loved what were doing. The support we received leading up to, and after the show has been incredible, and it's made me realize why I love doing this.