Entrepreneurs Find Success Without the “Shark Tank”Brittany Dow
In season five, Lynnae Schneller, founder and president of Lynnae’s Gourmet Pickles, brought a century-old secret recipe that was the basis of the company’s all-natural, hand-packed, uniquely flavored gourmet pickles. The brand sells around 10,000 jars of pickles per month, and has been featured in more than 100 media and news outlets, including Oprah and the Wall Street Journal. And then there’s Shawn Davis’ gourmet seafood operation, Chef Big Shake. After airing on “Shark Tank” in 2012, his company is now seen as the best deal on the show that never got made. Mark Cuban has called Chef Big Shake the one company he regrets not investing in. The company’s sales, “home of the original shrimp burger,” have soared from $30,000 to more than one million per year.
There were other entrepreneurs featured on “Shark Tank” who were offered a deal, but felt as though the sharks didn’t evaluate their company correctly, and walked away—like CoatChex.
In season four, Derek Pacque pitched his idea for a ticket-free coat check system, and turned down Mark Cuban’s $200,000 investment offer for a stake in his company CoatChex. The amount matched Pacque’s funding request—but Cuban’s demand of a 33% stake was more than three times the equity he wanted to give up. He walked away, and ended up landing huge contracts at such events as 2013 New York Fashion Week and the Super Bowl, projecting close to a million dollars a year.
Also in season four was Proof Eyewear, pitched to the sharks by three brothers, Taylor, Brooks and Tanner Dame. They received two offers of $150,000 for their handcrafted wood sunglasses, but refused to give up the equity demanded by the sharks.
“We walked away from the ‘Shark Tank’ studios and were all quiet for about 30 minutes. It’s hard to walk away from the connections and cash the sharks bring to the table,” admits Brooks Dame.” But then it was like, we got this far without the sharks. Why can’t we take it to the next level without them? It was almost a point of pride for us. We wanted to prove that we could do it and that’s what we’ve done.”
Since then their sales exceeded two million in 2014 and opened a flagship store in Boise, Idaho.
“We’re a crew of hustlers,” says Brooks Dame. “We have the mentality that we won’t lose.” In the minds of the Dame brothers, passion is the remedy for failure. They believed in the value of their pitch and their brand.[Tweet “We’re a crew of hustlers! We have the mentality that we won’t lose! @iwantproof”]
“Little did we know that Proof Eyewear would blow up bigger than we even dreamed,” says Brooks. “We knew regardless of what Mark Cuban or Daymond John thought of Proof [Eyewear], we were going to thrive. And that has been true.”
The brothers have also used their entrepreneurial success to carry out their mission of doing good, too.
“We have built eye clinics in India, and in summer 2015 we have a project to help others in El Salvador,” adds Brooks. “We may have taken a tougher road to get here—but it has helped us savor our destination in a way we wouldn’t have if we just got the money from the sharks. It may not be the best way for everyone, but we are a better company for it.”
Every other company that left the tank without a deal might not feel that same way. However, there’s no doubt that in order to appreciate success as an entrepreneur, you have to put in the work, deal with the trials and tribulations, and learn from your mistakes.
“I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve failed over the past few years,” says Lori. “I’ve learned to welcome mistakes, and even joke that I’ve learned so much from them that I’m going to keep making more of them on purpose in order to keep getting smarter.”
After all, the American Dream is all about the reality of building and growing a successful business out of your passion and skill set. And in order to grow, you have to accept and be dedicated to learning by trial and error.
“I’ve never been more dedicated to anything. I feel like I’m living the American Dream—I’ve given birth to an invention. I’m an architect-turned-entrepreneur, but I’m no longer building structures—I’m now building relationships.” says Lori Cheek.
“I’ve built a brand and a company and thousands of people are using the service all over the world. It’s the most rewarding feeling.”[author image=”http://midnightpublishingllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/CEO-of-Editorial.jpg” ]Lauren Wise has been a writer, book editor and magazine editor for over 10 years. In 2009, she established Midnight Publishing, a provider of editing, writing, proofing, publishing, website and consulting services. Before graduating from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and establishing Midnight Publishing, Lauren Wise lived all over the country and traveled throughout Europe, Vietnam, Taiwan, The Virgin Islands, Cambodia, Canada and Mexico, making her open to several cultures, ideas and editorial styles.[/author]