"You should go on Shark Tank!"
If you're an entrepreneur, you've likely heard this sentiment a few hundred (thousand) times. I know I have!
In January of 2023, I navigated my way to ABC.com and found the application for the hit TV show Shark Tank. I remember the process being frictionless and surprisingly brief; I threw my name in the hat and promptly forgot about it!
A few months later, I received a voicemail...
"Hi Heather, my name is <<First Name>>. I am a casting associate for ABC's Shark Tank..."
As you can imagine, I FREAKED OUT! This would be the catalyst for a nine month journey that I was about to embark on.
After this brief call, there was a whole flurry of activity. We had two weeks to prepare a five minute audition video, a seemingly endless amount of paperwork, and then...
"Thanks for your submission! If we decide to move forward we will be in touch. If you don't hear from us, you have not been casted."
So I waited...letting the dreams of going on Shark Tank marinate on my vision board. I got back to work doing the every day business things, occasionally looking up to see the Shark Tank logo perched on a white board above my desk.
In late May, I received an email letting us know that we were still in the running; another flurry of activity gathering elements for our pitch, building the display, submitting outfits for approval, the whole nine yards.
Amidst all of this excitement, I was actively fundraising for the business, running into roadblocks everywhere I turned.
"You couldn't have picked a worse time to fundraise."
"I don't see how you get this to be a $50 million business."
"Your market opportunity isn't big enough, how many backpackers are there anyway?"
Before I knew it, it was early September, and with negative dollars in my bank account, I flew to LA to film for Shark Tank. After being completely beat up by the process of trying to raise capital for my the last eight months, I felt nervous, tired, and a bit defeated.
Regardless of my circumstances, I was ready! I had prepared heavily; studying my numbers inside and out, practicing delivering my pitch, building out a display that I knew was going to rock, all of it. What I didn't know was whether or not the Sharks were going to like eating food from a bag with a spork! Serving Mark Cuban a backpacking meal and a Packaroon live on camera was a little bit intimidating...to say the least.
Before I knew it, I was standing at the end of the Shark Tank hallway (yes, THE hallway that you see on television). Someone was touching up my makeup, another was getting a mic put in place, another starching my "hiker chic" outfit.
"I need you to walk down the hallway, don't look at the camera, keep your head up, hit your mark, and keep your eyes on Mr. Wonderful."
So I did...I marched down that hallway, stood under the bright shining lights, smiled, and once again, I waited.
Catch us on Shark Tank Friday, January 12th at 8 pm ET/PT on ABC. Opt in to our newsletter for Part II of our Shark Tank story!
Heather Kelly is the founder and CEO of Heather’s Choice. She was an NCAA National Champion and CRCA/Pocock All-American in women’s rowing, and hold a degree in evolutionary nutrition. Heather is also a certified eating psychology coach and has coached hundreds of athletes on developing a nutrition plan for optional performance and a healthy, satisfying relationship with food.
Heather lives in Anchorage, Alaska with her boyfriend and business partner Brad, along with their dog Jango. You can likely find her playing with food, building her urban homestead, or rafting rivers in her spare time.