In honor of Shark Week: What experiences have you had with the hit show Shark Tank?
Discovery Channel's Shark Week (7/28 - 8/4) made me wonder if any of our own business.com community members have ever had their own up-close experience with a 'shark.' As a community of budding business owners and entrepreneurs, have any of you ever been on the show Shark Tank or do you know somebody who has? Have you ever learned an important lesson from an episode of Shark Tank that you carry with you throughout your entrepreneurial journey?
We're taking Shark Week to a new level!
- Haley, Community Manager
Every time I watch this show it reminds me how amazing being an entrepreneur is. It evokes inspiration to build a prototype or start developing that new app that gets you excited. Sometimes we fall into a routine or level of complacency and forget about that old passion project or that opportunity for a new revenue stream. Shark Tank should remind us all that taking the leap and going to market with an idea is within reach!
Back in 2017, I was working for a sourcing company which served as an Amazon and e-commerce seller platform that allowed buyers to source and connect with factories to manufacture their products in China. I had the pleasure of working with a pair of entrepreneurial brothers who were preparing for their upcoming appearance on Shark Tank. I got involved in their project when they began experiencing quality issues with their product.
With just about two weeks until they were scheduled to stand in front of the sharks, they received samples of their product that was not of the same quality or material that they had pre-approved with the factory. As you can imagine, tensions were high and time was sparse. If they couldn’t get their hands on samples that actually exemplified the true value and quality of the product proposition, they knew that they were nothing but shark bait.
Their future of success relied on getting the right samples in the hands of Lori, Mark, Robert, Barbara, and especially ‘Mr. Wonderdul’ (Kevin O’Leary). I got in touch with both their project manager and sourcing manager to figure things out. Since my client's factory was in China and their project manager was based in the Philippines – neither of them had ever even seen or felt the product - I could see why they were having issues!
At the time, I was based in Shenzhen, China, and requested that the samples be shipped to me. I proceeded to hop on a call with the factory to get answers straight from the source. After a few short minutes, I realized why their problem had taken over 1 month to resolve (and how much of a simple fix it was). The entire mishap was stemming from a mislabeling issue! The samples my clients had approved did not match the product samples the factory was describing - their samples got mislabeled somewhere along the lines of communication and within the process of shipping the samples back and forth.
Despite the 3 AM wake up call, my clients were ecstatic to hear the news that the problem had been identified, resolved and that the correct product samples were being express shipped; arriving in time for their appearance on Shark Tank. My clients received six new samples only one week ahead of filming the episode, which aired December 2017.
So, what did I learn from this? We live in a "Shark Tank" inspired era where anyone with an idea can become the next big thing. Not many people have seen behind the stage curtain of success to understand that for every success story, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of failures.
While sites like Alibaba have made it easier to find manufacturers, managing projects on one's own from halfway across the globe is still a full-time job. So much so, that large-scale brand companies continue to partner with contract manufacturers and agents. Nowadays, many SMEs are choosing to work with contract manufacturers as alternatives to act as an extension of their business when it comes to sourcing or developing/manufacturing their product. While it is still very much possible for someone to do it themselves, it is also incredibly risky. It is especially risky when you're a startup or a small business just starting out and in the early stages of your journey. You want to remain as lean as possible and outsource anything that isn't in your core competency.
These experiences are what I live for. I love working with entrepreneurs, inventors, and SMEs to bring their products to life and safely navigate their projects through the treacherous waters of overseas manufacturing.
- Sal Orozco, Strategic Partnerships Manager at EPower Corp