Shark Tank vs. KickStarter: How One Startup Used Both to Launch
Getting your business on a reality TV show can help an entrepreneur gain huge exposure and land investors. Here's what happened to one business owners who hit the big time on the small screen and still needed help.
Gary Gagnon is a longtime manufacturers' representative and founder of the recyclable-sneaker startup REMYXX. He was on the Shark Tank finale in May, but his company was a tough sell because REMYXX was still on the drawing boards. He had no sales yet. And if you watch Shark Tank, you know the Sharks don't like businesses with no track record.
But Gagnon won over Shark Daymond John, who cut a deal on the show in which Gagnon gave up 80 percent of his company in exchange for a $50,000 stake. After the show, though, the deal fell apart.
"Daymond told me he would never partner with someone who would steal his business like that," Gagnon says. "He didn't want me to, either."
Instead, Gagnon says, he gained a mentor and launched a KickStarter campaign to raise the funds to make his sneakers. Here's how it's all working out:
According to Gagnon, while John withdrew his financial backing, he stayed involved in REMYXX unofficially, offering invaluable advice. Gagnon sees potential in licensing the sneakers he invented to some big brands.
But first, REMYXX needs "proof of concept" -- some real customers who buy and love the sneakers, in order to get the Nikes of the world interested. That's where the crowdfunding platform KickStarter comes in.
Gagnon is doing a KickStarter campaign to raise just under $40,000, the amount needed to manufacture a first run of the sneakers. It's an unusual one-two punch approach to finding funding, but it appears to be working well. In looking to promote the KickStarter campaign, Gagnon found he had a number of different fan bases he could tap:
- Shark Tank fans
- Green/sustainability bloggers
- Fashion bloggers
- Sneaker fans
The exposure from Shark Tank definitely helped give the KickStarter campaign higher visibility. With more than two weeks left to go, he's raised all but about $5,000 of the total needed to fund the campaign and get the shoes into production. Better, more than 300 of his KickStarter donors have signed up to get a pair of the shoes.
When those get on people's feet and out in the world, it's bound to inspire buzz and spark more customer demand. The shoes have a signature look, as each design bears the universal recycling symbol for its plastic type -- "5" -- on them.
Best of all, now Gagnon has the money he needs to get off the launchpad, and he didn't give up any equity in REMYXX at all. Sometimes, when deals fall apart, it's a good thing.
Which would you rather do -- be on Shark Tank or do a KickStarter campaign? Leave a comment and tell us which, and why.