Last week, I had the privilege of traveling to Las Vegas, NV to try out for the hit TV show Shark Tank. I have tried out twice before and made it several rounds before getting cut. I often get asked about my Shark Tank adventures so this time, I decided to document the journey in hopes that I can inspire somebody else to chase this little dream we all call entrepreneurship. I own a company called Eco Flower, and this is my Shark Tank audition story.
After a full day's work at the flower shop, my boyfriend Wes and I packed up our car and hopped on I-15 for the 5-7 hour drive to Vegas. When I say we packed up our car, I mean we stuffed it completely full, to the point of combustion. I wanted to bring as many items as I could (just in case). My product is terribly fragile, so each item had to be bubble wrapped and boxed, which took up so much room.
Six point five hours later, we saw the Las Vegas lights on the horizon. Anyone who has made the drive from Northern Utah to Sin City knows that this moment is crucial in regaining the drivers sanity. Seeing these lights after driving 6 hours in complete darkness is a sight similar to pulling teeth, washing windows, or waiting for a restroom stall to open up at the public zoo.
We settled into our hotel room at the Four Queens Hotel on the famous Fremont Street. I waited until the last minute to book my hotel. As a result, I over paid for a three star hotel, but after the long drive, I didn't care that the room looked like something out of a horror film.
I went STRAIGHT to bed knowing that tryouts were the next morning and I would need to bring my A game. I woke up at 5:00am with bags under my eyes and the feeling of extreme exhaustion. I hadn't felt this tired since high school when I had to wake up two hours early for dance team practice. It's a terrible feeling to want more sleep, but when you're an entrepreneur, the possibility of being on a show like Shark Tank is enough to wake the dead. Being on a program like Shark Tank is the holy grail of business goals. The possibility of developing a relationship with a shark, gaining more sales for my business, and providing more jobs for my community and my family got me out of bed that morning to conquer first round tryouts.
I quickly got ready. I gave myself the bathroom mirror pep talk and headed to the elevator. Wes and I decided to take an "usie" in the mirror before going downstairs. Don't we look excited, and doesn't this hotel mirror look nasty?! LOL!
We arrived at the Venetian Hotel ready for tryouts only to see an empty hallway and an empty room. After a frantic and confusing few minutes, I found someone who told me that tryouts were the next day. I got the day wrong! I was relieved that I had 24 more hours to prepare my pitch.
Wes and I decided to spend our free day to explore areas outside of the over crowded Las Vegas Strip. We ate a yummy breakfast at Blueberry Hill, then headed toward an arts district just off the strip. We found vintage shops, art galleries, and even a shopping plaza made entirely out of recycled shipping containers called "Container Park".
During our exploration of this amazing container park plaza, we learned that it contained a small wedding chapel called Lucky Little Wedding Chapel. The chapel intrigued us.
The next morning, I woke up at 5:00am (again) and prepared myself for the real Shark Tank tryout. Here's an interesting fact: You do not need to wait in line to be guaranteed to give your pitch to producers. Shark Tank does not allow people to stay the night in lines. The earliest you can line up is one hour before open call auditions begin. I arrived right on time and got in line behind a sea of black suites. My blonde hair, my gender, and my pink jacket stuck out (a good think, I think).
We waited in line for about 45 minutes before we were given a wrist band and told to come back a few hours later. We went and had another yummy breakfast off of the strip and I put more thought into my pitch. A 11:00am we headed back to the Venetian ready for battle. As I walked into my audition, Mark Cuban was walking out! He told a crowd of eager entrepreneurs that he couldn't stop for photos or autographs as it was against the TV show rules for him to have any interaction with the people auditioning. He was not present at my audition. He stayed in the building for a few minutes talking to producers about what seemed to be causal chit chat.
I can't talk about what happened in my audition or what the outcome of my audition will be, but I do have some advice for other entrepreneurs who are planning on trying out for Shark Tank:
1. Don't wait in line the night before. Everyone gets seen and the line truly isn't THAT long.
2. Don't prepare a sleezy pitch. Every time I have tried out, I didn't prepare a pitch. I simply walk up to the table with confidence and sell myself more than I sell my product. This is a TV show and they are looking for great products, but they are also looking for people with personalities that will translate well on television.
3. Talk to people in line! There are so many talented entrepreneurs, engineers, and marketing specialists. Why not use the opportunity to make some connections and take/give advice to other people who have the same goals?
4. Don't dress to impress. Be true to yourself. If you're a hippie, be a hippie. If you're a Mommy, be Mommy! Don't mask your style underneath a black suit and tie. You are selling yourself! So be yourself. If they love you, then it's a win win for everyone. If they hate you, then you'll leave the audition knowing you didn't compromise your style, your product, or your vision.
5. Don't call them, let the producers call you. If they do in fact like you, they will call. This is a TV show, not a sales pitch. There is not amount of following up that will change their mind. The less harassing you are, the better.
6. After your audition, elope!
Immediately following our Shark Tank audition, we went right back to the Container Park and got married in their wedding chapel. January 7th, 2016 will forever be remembered as the day we chased our dreams.