They Got A Deal!

What it took to land an investment from Barbara Corcoran on Shark Tank.

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In December 2015, PiperWai Natural Deodorant, founded by Sarah Ribner '16 and her partner Jess Edelstein, had the opportunity to pitch on ABC’s Shark Tank. They received offers from real estate entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran and the "Queen of QVC" Lori Greiner, ultimately counter-offering to land a $50,000 deal with Corcoran. The founders reflected that choosing Corcoran was rooted in a "gut feeling," while Corcoran expressed a similar sentiment, tweeting after the show: "I believe in the product, I believe in the entrepreneurs."

In the midst of filling orders shortly after their appearance, Ribner took a few minutes to share more about the steps leading up to the show and how their new partner will play a big role in helping them grow PiperWai.

How did you decide to apply?

We had been thinking about it for a while. When we learned they would be casting in Philadelphia on a weekend we were in town, we applied on a whim. In just two days we got a call from a casting director.

What did the preparation entail?

We crafted the pitch and worked with the Shark Tank production team for the entire summer. We had to refine our delivery so that it had the most impact within a very short period of time. The pitch had to be a minute or less, explain the product, illustrate why we needed the Sharks, and conclude with our desired investment.

In the past, I was slightly uncomfortable with public speaking in front of large groups, but there have been a lot of instances at CBS over the past year, especially in my entrepreneurship classes, where I have had a ton of experiences presenting in front of powerful angel investors and VCs, so I felt much more comfortable preparing for this experience.

The production team reiterated that nothing was guaranteed, but they encouraged us to prepare as if we would be on the show. We put a lot of effort into it, but at the same time, we never knew if it would materialize. We were thrilled in September when we learned that they had officially booked our trip to Los Angeles to be on the show!

What was your strategy?

Until that point, we had been reinvesting profits into the company, so we didn’t need a huge capital infusion, we needed a strategic partner — someone who could help us close deals with major retailers and get the word out about the product. For this reason, we decided to go in asking for a modest amount, $50,000 in exchange for 10 percent equity.

We were excited about the possibility of partnering with Barbara and we felt a great connection with her when we were in the Tank, so we were very happy that it all worked out.

How will this partnership help PiperWai?

We have had a lot of interest from major retailers, but sometimes small brands can get lost in the crowd. Barbara is extremely well connected and can help us close a lot of those deals. She has also been very helpful in providing guidance as to where we should distribute in the future and what products we should launch next. She has encouraged us to produce the stick applicator and she is absolutely right — we’ve gotten thousands of messages asking about this and customers are even offering to pre-order. It has been helpful to have her guidance and insights as we are in development with this new product and continuing to grow!

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