If you have a great business idea and need money getting it off the ground, Shark Tank might be the ideal venture for you. However, before diving into the deep, in a room full of Sharks, you need to learn how to best prepare for your pitch. And what better source to get inspiration from than from an entrepreneur who’s been there and done that.
Meet Briella Brown, the twenty-year-old founder of Your Closet, a luxury dress rental service, allowing women in Australia to rent designer dresses for events instead of forking out for new ones.
“I started the business at the age of 18. I had just finished my final year at high school and was fortunate enough to be invited to three formals. I noticed that myself and all of my friends were spending a large sum of money on dresses which would only get worn once. The idea of renting began from here and how it could be executed on a larger scale.
“I was dressing quite a number of ladies who were attending the annual McGrath Real Estate Agency Ball and by chance I met John Mcgrath, one of the Sharks from the show, who recommended that I try out for Shark Tank.”
"I figured it’s a sacrifice for the exposure that my company would gain from being on TV, at the very least.”
Unsure of where the journey would lead, Brown filled out a nomination form for herself and was later accepted to pitch on the show.
“At first I wasn't so keen to disclose my financial numbers on national television, but I figured it’s a sacrifice for the exposure that my company would gain from being on TV, at the very least.”
Little did Brown know at the time that she would indeed gain great exposure, but also, much much more.
“The outcome was incredible,” says Brown who entered the tank seeking an $80,000 investment for 20 per cent equity stake. “I received and accepted an offer for the $80,000, split between Naomi Simson and Janine Allis who both requested 20 per cent each. On top of this, we also received some pretty cool press immediately after the episode aired and our traffic and overall community grew a lot bigger almost overnight.”
“I knew that I wanted to know my numbers inside out, says Brown. “I would have been very embarrassed if I couldn't answer this basic question."
But what does it take to prepare for a successful pitch? Having watched many previous episodes of the show, Brown knew that one of the main topics that would be raised is how her business, Your Closet, was currently making money at the time of the pitch.
“I knew that I wanted to know my numbers inside out, says Brown. “I would have been very embarrassed if I couldn't answer this basic question, so I sought help from my accountant (in my case, my Dad), who ran over all of the business metrics and I made sure to remember them off by heart.”
In the end, Brown was in the tank for over an hour and a half. “I fine-tuned a two minute pitch however, I knew that I couldn't account for every question I would be asked, so I made sure to just stay calm and take each question as they came.”
Today, Brown describes the Shark Tank journey as a priceless experience.
“I count all of the Sharks as mentors. Since I’m still quite young, it’s very useful to be able to approach them when I need guidance from fellow entrepreneurs who have achieved such success in business.”
When asked what advice she would give to others who are considering nominating themselves for the show, Brown simply says, “Just throw yourself in there and see what happens.”
Pauline is a Sydney-based journalist for Domain and is frequently featured amongst various Fairfax Media mastheads including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.