06 Dec How I Bought a Deal on Shark Tank – Octane Weblog – The official weblog of the Entrepreneurs' Group
About 40,000 folks apply every season; 100 really make it on air. EO member Mitch Allen is considered one of them!
Mitch Allen, an Entrepreneurs’ Group (EO) member in Fort Price, is founder and Head Elf of Rent Santa, a service that brings the season to life with hundreds of professionally educated Santas worldwide. On December 2, 2018, Mitch pitched the corporate on ABC’s Shark Tank.
Mitch shared with us the story of this once-in-a-lifetime journey—together with how his experiences as an EO member proved invaluable.
As an entrepreneur, I’m drawn to the idea of Shark Tank. There’s the all-important pitch, inventive units, surprising reactions by 5 seasoned traders and the opportunity of scaling progress quick with a money infusion and trade connections. It’s just like the Tremendous Bowl for entrepreneurs!
I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life–from shopping for baseball playing cards, comedian books and vintage Coke machines when I used to be younger to flipping rental homes in grad faculty. I presently personal a number of companies, primarily within the authorized and Web advertising house.
How Rent Santa Began
My newest firm, Rent Santa, began at an worker Christmas social gathering in 2008 the place I handed out bonuses dressed as Santa Claus. It was such a blast that I did it once more in 2009. That yr, a household good friend requested me to look for his or her little one as Santa, and it modified all the things. Being Santa to youngsters is an unforgettable expertise.
One factor led to a different and other people began to pay me to seem as Santa Claus. I obtained into it, showing extra ceaselessly, charging more cash―after which I ran out of provide. There wasn’t sufficient of me to do each occasion, so I began hiring different Santas.
I purchased the area title, created an internet site and rapidly grew the enterprise. It began as a pastime, however by 2014, with the assist of my EO Fort Price ”Tamarindo” Discussion board, it grew to become an actual enterprise.
At first, I used to be reluctant to speak about it, apprehensive some may suppose it was foolish. Nevertheless it’s simply the alternative—it’s a tremendous firm. We deliver love, pleasure and the Christmas spirit to a whole lot of hundreds of individuals annually. I’ve by no means had a enterprise that brings a smile to folks in all places the best way that Rent Santa does.
My Journey to the Tank Begins
In January 2018, impressed by an episode of Shark Tank, I checked the present’s audition schedule and noticed an open name one week later in Dallas—only a 40-minute drive away from me.
I went all in. I downloaded the appliance, crafted my one-minute pitch and waited in line all day on the Dallas Conference Middle with 500 different hopeful entrepreneurs. Some had worthwhile companies, others had a dream however hadn’t earned a penny. It was fascinating.
When referred to as, I delivered my pitch to one of many six casting associates and thought I linked with him. The truth that I had income, a enjoyable service and an fascinating story performed in my favor. All through the method, we had been instructed to not count on a callback, so I used to be excited once they referred to as lower than per week later and despatched extra paperwork, contracts and intensive nondisclosure agreements.
The following step was to create a 10-minute audition video. So, I referred to as 10 of my native Santas, discovered a Mrs. Claus, and filmed a video that I used to be happy with.
They thanked me, however as soon as once more emphasised that most individuals wouldn’t get a callback.
Shortly thereafter, Rent Santa scored an enormous contract with Bass Professional Outlets and Cabela’s. Whereas I used to be specializing in that win, the Shark Tank producers referred to as to say that I used to be shifting on to the subsequent spherical, and would want to place collectively an actual pitch. Extra contracts arrived, and I used to be assigned a staff of two producers whom I met with each week on convention calls to hone my pitch and get my monetary paperwork so as.
Perfecting My Pitch
That is the a part of the Shark Tank course of the place EO proved invaluable. My Discussion board and fellow EO members had been extremely useful and inspiring:
- Steve Craig, former chapter president of EO Fort Price, advised that I exploit his daughters, Lauren and Ashley Kate, as interns. They analyzed episodes, helped me kind and reply potential questions on my enterprise, reached out to former members, ordered all the things for my set, and fact-checked my pitch. Their efforts had been extraordinarily useful.
- EO Fort Price was amazingly supportive. They arrange mock Shark Tank displays to problem my composure and negotiating abilities with troublesome questions and eventualities.
- Two Tamarindo Discussion board members—Jeremy Brandt and John Cornelsen, each former chapter presidents who’ve served in international EO positions—flew to Los Angeles at their expense to look on set with me as snowman and Rudolph mascots. This degree of assist was extraordinary, and I couldn’t have completed it with out their assist.
- After I landed in Los Angeles to movie in September, EO LA organized a fourth mock presentation as my closing run-through. Nick Lange donated house and offered a scrumptious unfold to welcome me. The overwhelming encouragement and assist not solely gave me follow, it additionally constructed my confidence.
I can’t thank Nick, EO LA, EO Fort Price and, in fact, my EO Tamarindo Discussion board sufficient for supporting me earlier than, throughout and after filming.
A Week in Los Angeles
My week in Los Angeles was a blur. I arrived on Monday, 10 September 2018 for the Friday filming. The present places all of its entrepreneurs in the identical lodge, so it was fascinating to observe others put together. I used to be shocked to study that everybody who seems on the present is accountable for offering their very own set and props―there’s no allowance or stipend.
I really feel lucky that I used to be seemingly over-prepared, which stored me calm all through the week.
My 45 Minutes within the Tank
On Friday, we went to the studio to movie. As I walked down the corridor towards the Sharks, I may hardly consider it was taking place. Once you arrive in entrance of the Sharks, you’re requested to face in silence for as much as a minute whereas they set the cameras. If I hadn’t discovered this from a former participant, it will have been fairly intimidating.
I began my pitch, and all the things went easily. My ask was a US$200,000 funding for 10 % of the corporate. The sharks appeared to benefit from the spectacle of 20 Santas speeding in, bringing every shark a Santa hat to put on.
I used to be alarmed when 4 of the 5 sharks went out pretty early within the 45-minute filming course of.
All sleighs led again to Kevin “Mr. Fantastic” O’Leary—the one shark left. He made an terrible provide: US$200,000 for 50 % of my firm. I had practiced such eventualities and was grateful for the Victoria Medvec negotiation studying occasions I’d attended as a member of EO.
It was intense. The entire follow, analysis and deal eventualities I ready upfront paid off. Even so, I used to be lower than 30 seconds from strolling out and not using a deal. I had many alternative methods, however was unsure the way it was going to work out.
I attempted to manage the room. I didn’t need to be intimidated or overwhelmed. We went forwards and backwards, however couldn’t agree on valuation. (A lot of our negotiation was edited out of the phase that aired.) Lastly, I countered with a unique construction, providing to repay his funding by sharing half the income as much as his US$200,000 funding, after which a 10 % partnership.
That obtained Daymond John’s consideration. He re-entered the negotiations. So then, I had two Sharks on the road. Within the midst of pitting them towards every collectively to enhance my deal, Barbara Corcoran interjected, “I’ll do this deal at 10 %, however it’s a must to determine proper now.”
I used to be thrilled! Barbara is understood for giving sturdy assist to the businesses she invests in, so she was considered one of my prime companion picks.
I smiled my largest elfin smile: “Barbara, on behalf of Santa and all of the elves on the North Pole, Rent Santa would like to do a cope with you!”
The Large Reveal
I filmed on 14 September 2018, and the episode aired on 2 December 2018. We stored a hefty secret for two-and-a-half months!
The evening the episode aired, EO Fort Price rented a movie show and we held an epic MyEO occasion—140 associates and colleagues watched the episode collectively. My 45-minutes with the Sharks was edited to a nine-minute phase however I obtained to see moments I didn’t keep in mind, akin to Barbara hugging me and saying: “You’re an amazing negotiator!” What a nice shock.
“When Mitch walked onto the Shark Tank set, he was wildly smitten by his enterprise. All of the Santa Clauses that got here with him had been so jolly and properly mannered, somebody you’d need to invite into your property to make your children pleased. On prime of that, Mitch had an amazing enterprise sense as to why his enterprise was working properly and what he needed to do to make it even higher.” – Shark Barbara Corcoran
Because the episode aired, I’ve been amazed by the huge outpouring of assist and good needs. My spouse, Mysti, and I’ve obtained a whole lot of calls, texts and emails. It’s a humbling expertise, and I’m so grateful for each side of it.
Talking of my spouse: Each entrepreneur is aware of how laborious it may be on our spouses; we ask a lot of them as a result of we’re “on” on a regular basis. Mysti all the time goes the additional mile. Along with watching and analyzing each episode with me, she has all the time stored our total family working, which permits me to comply with my goals. She didn’t even complain that we had been aside on our 20th marriage ceremony anniversary, which was the Wednesday I used to be in L.A. for filming whereas she stayed in Texas to handle our kids. She deserves a ton of credit score for any success I’ve.
Within the days for the reason that episode aired, I’ve obtained a whole lot of emails from individuals who need to rent Santa. We’re completely booked for 2018, however sit up for the thrilling choices Barbara’s funding will present as we work to implement a brand new scheduling and calendaring course of to arrange a whole lot of gigs in dozens of areas in a single administration platform.
Estimates put the publicity worth from a Shark Tank look as equal to US$1 million in public relations. Our firm couldn’t probably get that a lot publicity some other manner. From the variety of emails I’ve obtained within the days for the reason that episode aired, I can attest to the ability of that publicity, which can assist us for years to return.
The Energy of Expertise Share
One cause I used to be capable of succeed on the present is because of the energy of expertise share that EO fashions. By reaching out to individuals who’d appeared on the present, I gained helpful insights and methods. I may not have understood the worth in shared experiences if I weren’t immersed in Gestalt studying through my EO Discussion board, the Entrepreneurial Masters Program, and different one-of-a-kind EO studying alternatives.
Listening to what any individual else has gone by way of and the way they navigated the challenges and surprising twists life and enterprise usually deliver may also help considerably alongside our journey: I’m dwelling proof.