The Shark Tank Effect: This Entrepreneur 'Felt' the Power of the Show

Tomer Alpert dishes on his experience pitching his startup on the popular TV show.

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By Andrew Medal

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Tomer Alpert

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Tomer Alpert, co-founder and CEO of Felt, had the opportunity to be on the season finale of Shark Tank last year.

I used to enjoy the show for its entertainment, but was always curious about what happens behind the scenes. Alpert is a member of my Facebook entrepreneur group, so I asked him some questions about his experience.

What's the most important tip you learned about actually getting on Shark Tank?

Alpert answered with "make good television."

"Between my first audition in 2013 and my third in 2015, I figured out a very, very important lesson: I had to make good television," he says. "My first attempts to get on the show were focused on showcasing our product. We thought it was enough to get us on the show, but it wasn't. And that's because our product isn't entertaining. It alone doesn't make good TV. I found a way to tell the story of why our customers need our product in a funny way which showcased my personality. It highlighted the fact that I wasn't scared to have fun, and the producers ate it up!"

Related: Shark Tank Star Robert Herjavec's Simple Tip for Boosting Productivity

Lesson: Use storytelling to shape your brand. Storytelling is an important key to creating a loyal following for your company, personal brand or product. Plus, storytelling also gets you on Shark Tank apparently.

What happens if you don't get onto Shark Tank?

Alpert says to make sure you have a plan B.

"After we found out we were going on the show I found myself getting hyper-focused on all the what-ifs: the outcome, the impact it would have, the impact it wouldn't have, what my friends would say, what they wouldn't say, all the press we'd get, all the press we wouldn't get, you get my point," he says. "The problem is, you can't control much of any of this. What I learned was to go back and focus on our business. We continued to build relationships with other investors, kept knocking on doors and definitely kept improving our product."

Lesson: As entrepreneurs, we must be focused on bottom-line results that we can control. Our time must be optimized and focused on these type of activities. Activities include product improvements based on real user feedback, sales, refining company processes, systems, creating content, etc.

Related: How I Got To Pitch Mark Cuban My Business Idea Without Ever Going on 'Shark Tank'

What happens if you actually do get onto Shark Tank?

Alpert explained that the best part about Shark Tank is that it really does work.

"All of your hard work pays off. It's the most impactful thing you can do for your business," he says. "But that's no surprise. What is surprising is how it happens."

Here's what Alpert learned:

  • Traffic spikes happen. When the show aired Felt had more than 10,000 people in its app simultaneously.
  • Things don't happen overnight. Felt made 90 percent of total Shark Tank sales during the nine days after airing. Only 10 percent occurred during the first 24 hours.
  • Time zone matters. The show airs on the east coast first, then central, mountain and finally the west coast.
  • Airing on Shark Tank grew Felt's daily revenue by 10 to 20 times. It was huge. The company went from burning tens of thousands of dollars a month to making money.

Related: Lori Greiner Is the 'Shark' With a Heart

Lesson: Hard work pays off. Whether it's putting time and energy into media, customer validation, development or design, your hard work will pay off. The important point is to make sure you're putting hard work into the right activity.

I'm still not completely sold on Shark Tank for the investment value, but see the benefit of the high-level media exposure. What do you think?
Andrew Medal

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Entrepreneur & Angel Investor

Andrew Medal is the founder of The Paper Chase, which is a bi-weekly newsletter. He is an entrepreneur and angel investor.

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