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MY EXPERIENCE FROM
Before we get into the detail I wanted to give you a little bit of a background on where this all started… I am half German, half Australian but grew up in Germany for all of my life. Fortunately my Australian mother taught me the Aussie way and slang which ultimately made me move to Australia in 2015 to build up the Australian operations for the food delivery service, Foodora.
I have always been a food lover and have always been seeking for ways to turn this passion into part of my professional life. My Dad owned and ran his company from the ground up so I guess it was ingrained in me. I believe that you only do things at your best if you really believe in them. With Foodora I felt like I solved the problem of having to eat poor quality take away food when working long hours. However, my biggest issue has always been breakfast. I never took the time to prepare a proper breakfast and I did not feel any benefit from having the classic “Up&Go” each morning. Sure it was easy to prepare but unfortunately the high amount of sugar out-ways the nutritional perspective. The idea of making breakfast easy and convenient continued growing until the point where I felt like I have to solve this in order to achieve my personal goal.
After 1 ½ year’s I decided to leave Foodora, and take a massive leap of faith to found Hummingbird, in Melbourne in 2016. Ever since I was at university and then being thrown into a world of fast paced business, I struggled daily to have a proper breakfast. As with everything, you are never the only one, so I moved forward with the intention of making a healthy breakfast easy and convenient for everyone, which is why Blendies (smoothie balls) came about.
Now there never is an easy road, but mine became a lot more achievable after finding investors and I raised capital from two individuals who were equally passionate and looking for their next challenge exactly like I was.
I ended up launching Hummingbird Blendies in August 2016 and about two months later a close friend of mine said that I should go on Shark Tank. At first I must say I felt a little bit unsure about the whole thing but in all my blind (or maybe not so blind) faith I thought I had a great chance and an extremely attractive product for it to become possible. As for the sharks, our sales were very good for such a small company so I believed they might want a little piece of the nest and I was right! It was also such an amazing opportunity to present my idea to the very top, with some of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs.
And this is where it started…
The Shark Tank process was very lengthy. It included many personal and business questions (for example, personal achievements in life, my CV, but also revenue and ownership structure), confidentiality agreements, AFP application, medical questionnaire; you name it, it was there. Mostly you then get invited to a casting day but since I was not in Melbourne to the time I had a Skype interview with one of the producers which went very well.
The day that I received a phone call saying I would be pitching in front of the Sharks, in front of Australia’s top entrepreneurs my heart was racing. They only gave me three weeks to get organised and be in Sydney. Exciting! Although I was super surprised how quickly they got back to me, I was also slowly realising what I had gotten myself into.
Now this is the best bit. Stepping foot off the plane I found myself in the back of a black limousine (yes, no cab, a limousine!) traveling from Sydney airport to the Shark Tank studios. It was November, 34 degree celsius and I was actually feeling pretty relaxed. I wore what I would wear every other day – jeans and a shirt which helped feeling relaxed and being myself. I had a brief chat with the producer and the art director when I arrived and then got mic’d up. Up until that day I didn’t know how torturing it can be to wear a microphone waist band at 34 degrees. While rolling, the air-condition had to be switched off since it was too loud. No air-condition paired with a very tight waist band was a, well let’s call it an interesting experience!
My relaxed feeling stopped immediately as I walked into the tank with the five hungry sharks and about 40 crew members behind the cameras. This was certainly going to be more difficult than I had expected. One really interesting point and what many people don’t know, is that after walking to your cross on the floor in front of the Sharks you have to stand still and wait for one minute while the cameras buzz around you and only once the sharks have given you a once over (i.e.look at you from top to toe) you can then start pitching.
Although I rehearsed my 2-minute pitch many times, practiced presenting and studied all business numbers in detail, it wasn’t easy to communicate the messages I intended to. The main problem was that it was almost impossible to explain anything without one of the sharks interrupting me in mid-sentence which obviously meant only half explanations.
Once the pitch and Q&A was over the producer came out and said he really liked my pitch and wanted to do a backstory in Melbourne with the team. They then actually took me straight to a psychologist for a debrief and to see how I found the experience which surprised me.
The backstory in Melbourne was fun but exhausting. It was a 12 hour day of running around Melbourne basically living in a fake reality. It felt real the first couple of shots until I realised one take was never good enough and it ended up being 6,8,9,10 takes of the same question and answer. Everything had to ‘fly’ on TV so most of my words were monitored. I couldn’t believe that the whole day would only cut down to 1 minute worth of television. Now I understand why movie productions are so expensive…
And only as the show aired I found out that they did not show the backstory – but who knows maybe it will air on one of the repetitions.
It wasn’t until 7 months later (June) that I finally heard from the studio confirming I would be aired on the next season, and no, no more notification, details or any guidance other than that.
We found out 2 weeks before the show was going live on National TV. So my small team of 4 and I scrambled to get everything right. Was the website able to handle the traffic? Did we have enough Blendies? Are we able to keep up with production in case demand skyrockets? How should we advertised? Who is managing customer service?
It was a very intense 2 weeks but boy was it rewarding watching myself walk out on that stage…
Turns out Shark Tank was a great success for Hummingbird! We had hundred orders and ran out of stock 5 days after airing. The whole team helped out to ensure that everything ran smooth even though many customers had to wait longer than usual for their Blendies delivery.
I can only recommend participating in Shark Tank since it has many positive effects. It’s time consuming and you are forced to dig very deep into your business (believe me the Sharks will ask you every little detail about your business) but it really helps creating a clear vision and understanding your business. And last but not least you obviously have 10 minutes on national television which is the best advertisement you could get, independent of the outcome!