CurlMix Founders, Kim + Tim Prepare for Shark Tank
We had almost no shot. Of 40,000 applicants, less than 88 companies are chosen. Saying the odds are slim is an understatement.
It’s harder to get on Shark Tank than it is to get into Harvard. We arrived at the pitching location in the middle of the day with baby Zuri, our then 6-month-old son in tow. He comes to work with us every day, so we couldn’t find a babysitter at the time.
It was also 2 days before our 5 year wedding anniversary.
I don’t know if we even realized. Sometimes we get so focused, we forget about things like Valentine’s Day and Anniversaries. I can feel all the married folks scolding us after that last sentence. We have to do better. I know.
Anyway, we get to the Casting Call and there are thousands of people waiting to pitch.
There are about 4 producers with individual booths who are all simultaneously listening to pitches. 1 judge per pitch.
This made me extremely nervous. This meant that if this one judge didn’t like us, we were toast, AND she didn’t have curly hair, she may not understand our product. As we anxiously waited, we saw people pitching their essential oils, skin care lines, costumes, tech apps and so on.
The ideas were endless. I mean just everything. Were we really going to stand out?!
Then, they call our number and we hurriedly scurry to the front.
Here goes nothing “I’m Kim, and I’m Tim, we are high school sweethearts from the south side of Chicago”….Zuri starts to cry midway through the audition.
*Oh crap! Toss him a CurlMix box to play with.*
And it worked like a charm.
As we finished our pitch, I was certain we were outta there.
I said to myself “She is probably thinking, look at this unprepared couple and their crying baby…next!”
She took a moment to write a few scribbles…*revenue…potential angles* and then she looks away from her notes and lifts her head to us with a smile.
“I like that you’re Kim and Tim”.
That was the smile we were hoping for. So she did like us.
Maybe bringing Zuri wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
Ok for being progressive!
Just moments after pitching and calming Zuri down lol.
Getting the Call
Since Tim had been on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", we knew that if we didn’t get a call within a couple of weeks, it wasn’t happening. I guess we figure TV just works a certain way no matter the show.
We didn’t expect to get the opportunity... I mean, we had a .00003 chance of appearing on the show.
But boy were we hoping! I frantically checked my email every day. *Refreshing it three times in the morning…combing through spam.*
I did this daily for like a week.
I’m revealing a lot about my crazy here…don’t judge me lol. I can be a little obsessive, what entrepreneur isn’t.
I even ran a daily search on my email with “Shark Tank” in case I missed the email. That would be the worst email EVER to go to Spam lol.
Then it happened. I refreshed my email and BAM, it was there.
“ST10 Season Casting”
I screamed. “Ahhhhhhh! TIM TIM TIM!” At the time we were working from home and I turned to Tim and yelled, "GUESS WHAT?!?!"
He replied, “We are gonna be on Shark Tank?!?!?!”
Clearly, my husband knows me. He knew there was only one reason I could be acting like this.
I hopped out my chair and started screaming! I picked up my phone because I wanted to tell everyone, but I realized I couldn’t!
Luckily he is my co-founder and I could share the entire experience with him because I could not have kept this kind of secret to myself.
Preparing for the show
We had been watching the show for YEARS!
So we knew that the work had just begun. Besides there being a lot of paperwork, we were actively growing the business, while preparing for Shark Tank.
CurlMix was doubling in size the months leading up to filming for Shark Tank.
It was a very stressful time, so we decided to divide and conquer.
Tim took on more of an operations role managing the production side of the business, and I still managed Marketing but also took on the role of ensuring we were prepared for Shark Tank.
Because what I was not going to do was stand in front of America and not look prepared. “Twice as good for half as…nevermind”. You know what I’m saying lol.
The only way I could do it confidently is if I had prepared until I was blue in the face.
It became a second job and needed that much attention.
Here we are on the phone with the producers at the office.
Preparing for our pitch, designing our set, coordinating with models, and preparing for the Q+A phase was my new 5pm – 9pm….you know….like when you first start a business and you have you nine to five....but the business you start becomes your five to nine, something you work on at home after your regular job lol.
To prepare for all the holes the investors would poke in our business on television, I had to poke my own holes into my business and really be honest about the weak points.
I binge watched about 3-4 episode of the show for a refresh and wrote down every single question the Sharks posed to the entrepreneurs.
I noticed a pattern for some Sharks, and I circled any repeated question.
The biggest advantage of going into the Tank is that you can learn about your judges, but they can’t learn about you…so in a way, the entrepreneur has the advantage.
I wrote down 50 questions that might be asked, then put them on cards, and on the back, I wrote 2-3 talking points for each answer.
I felt like I was back in college preparing for a midterm or something. Only, in college, I was a B student, so I didn’t work this hard lol. This Shark Tank preparation was definitely A student work.
I’d carry those cards everywhere!
On the way home from work, I’d whip them out and randomly test Tim. In return, we took turns pretending to be Mr. Wonderful and tell you if it was an awful answer or not lol.
I honestly think it prepared us for any harsh feedback we might have gotten. We called each other “cockroaches” as Mr. Wonderful calls any small company in a large market on the show.
And we even practiced smiling through the pitch so we wouldn’t look defeated on television. Sometimes we got into lovers quarrels if we felt like the other wasn’t taking it seriously. It was a really stressful time leading up to the pitch.
Needless to say, we were ready.
Taping the Episode
As fate would have it, I got sick.
Maybe I worried myself sick, I always thought that was just an old saying, but I think maybe it's real now.
Even with the hours and hours of preparation, absolutely nothing can prepare you to walk down that wooden hallway with beaming lights, fish tanks, large cameras, and some serious star power.
Oh, lets not forget the couple of billion dollars of net worth in the room.
I have never been more nervous in my life.
I felt like I could jump outside of my body and the hair on my skin was raised the entire time.
All I could do to keep calm was rehearse. It made me feel safe every time I got through my pitch without making a mistake.
The one thing that the staff did to calm our nerves significantly was letting us see the stage before we pitched.
We got to see the Sharks doing things regular people do every day.
Make phone calls, talk to people on set, laugh. It humanized them in a major way.
We got to see the camera set up and the lights.
It doesn’t seem like much, but it gave us a sense of familiarity and allowed you more control over your feelings.
After we saw that, we were charged and ready to go.
The best thing about this whole process is that I got to do it with someone I love!
I can get a little anxious and he definitely talked me off a ledge a few times (figuratively folks) lol.
He kept me focused but also encouraged me when he saw I was nervous.
Doing this by myself would’ve been so different but my partner in business and in love held me down.
All in all, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so grateful for it. It meant so much to have a dream of mine come true.
And I am just as anxious as anyone else to see how it turned out.
Comment below and let me know what you think about our episode of you've seen it.