Behind The Scenes: Auditioning For Shark Tank

As many of you know, back in November 2018 I applied for Shark Tank Season 11. What you don’t know? They actually noticed my application out of the THOUSANDS wanted to talk to me! 😵

While I love to share Flight Fillow’s journey to growth with you, I wasn’t able to share my status during the audition process after I made it past a certain point. But now I am! 🎉

I’m able to share my status now because I was not selected to go to the next round. However, I’m not sad about it because I never expected to make it as far as I did!

What is it like to apply and audition for shark tank? I could talk your ear off about it, but here it is in a nutshell - there are multiple elimination rounds, and each round doesn’t give you much notice to prepare. While this was nerve wrecking, it was great for my business because it certainly got me to accelerate our growth faster than planned since after every round I had to hustle to be ready for the next, knowing I wouldn’t have much notice after I got the call 😬

Here are the details about my experience auditioning for Shark Tank: 

I first applied to Shark Tank by sending an email to casting team in November 2018. I didn't hear back for a few months so in January 2019 when the online applications opened up, I applied again through their website. 

In April is when it started to get exciting. I received an email from a member of the casting team around 5pm requesting a phone interview with me at 5:30pm. 30 MINUTE NOTICE?! Well, I was certainly not going to say no... so I left work on a whim and did the phone interview from my car. This wasn't ideal because for something so big, I would have loved to have more time to prepare and write out an outline of what I wanted to say, but oh well,I took the opportunity and gave it my best shot. 

To my surprise, the Casting Associate decided to move me to the next round! Once he told me I was going to the next round, he explained to me the next steps involved which was an application packet and a 10 minute video would be sent to the producers. 

This is the point where I was no longer permitted to discuss the status of my application. Making a video to send to the producers is stressful enough, but I only had 7 days to get the video physically into the hands of the producers! Since I had to account for shipping time, that meant I really only had 3 days to film and edit the video. 

I spent the first day writing out the "script" for the video and the second day was spent filming in my living room. I wanted to wear a Flight Fillow shirt in the video but most companies have a lead time that is longer than 1 day. I ended up going to Michael's and buying a couple plain shirts and iron on transfer paper, printed the Flight Fillow logo on the iron on transfer paper, and then made my own Flight Fillow shirt! Here's a photo of what the two shirts look like. Not too shabby for a last minute thing, right? 

 Shark Tank, Flight Fillow, Iron on, Custom T-shirt, Small business, invention


Anyways, the second day was spent filming the video in my living room which was a lot harder than I expected it to be. I had the script written out but it was hard to get through filming without messing up. So instead of one video that's 10 min, we had to film it in many different pieces (23 pieces to be exact) and stitch them together to make the 10 min video. 

Thank the Lord for my awesome little brother, who is also Flight Fillow's Intern. He is a wiz when it comes to video editing so he did a phenomenal job of stitching all those pieces together and putting in seamless transitions. He even had a fun time putting together a blooper reel of all my mess ups (which there were a lot of). 

While my brother/intern spent the third day editing the video, I strolled into the local Starbucks ready to fill out the application packet. I walked in feeling confident and excited... but definitely left the cafe with my tail between my legs and feeling defeated. 

The application packet was 40 pages long and asked a tooooon of questions. It took me about 4 hours to fill it out and honestly, I had to guess some of the answers. I thought I knew my business inside and out, but they asked me so many questions, some of which I didn't even understand what they were asking for. I googled a lot of definitions and formulas to answer the questions. Since there was such a quick turnaround on the packet, I didn't have time to meet with my Accountant or IP Attorney to double check my answers. 

After the three full days immersed in prepping for Shark Tank, I mailed everything out to the producers.

You would think after sending those out the door I would feel relieved, right? Well, the process showed me all the things that I didn't know or didn't have prepared so I had to hustle to get those things sorted out to be ready for the next call. Which is why even though I didn't get selected to pitch the sharks on season 11, this experience propelled my business and taught me so much. 

How This Experience Propelled My Business: 

  • Made Flight Fillow into a legal entity - the application made it clear they were looking for LLCs to invest in, so I pulled the trigger to officially make Flight Fillow an LLC. 
  • Learned my numbers and how to calculate them - As I stated earlier, I thought I knew my business inside and out but when I was answering the questions in the application, there were many questions I guessed the answer to. So I set up calls with my friends from business school and my Accountant to review my numbers and not only learn the answers, but to understand how they were calculated. 
  • Transferred to formal accounting software - before this experience, I was tracking all my expenses, revenue, and metrics through excel. I was using excel to save on the monthly expense of using an accounting software, but now I had to make the leap to something official since another question on the application was about what accounting software I used... excel probably wasn't the best answer! 
  • Opened Business Checking and Credit Card - this part was largely due to becoming an official legal entity that requires me to keep the finances very separate. But this was also a great step in the right direction and has helped me to automate the book keeping instead of me manually reviewing and separating the transactions from my personal accounts. 
  • Designed and Procured Displays - I figured if I did make it onto Shark Tank, I wouldn't have enough time to order displays and have them ready to go, so I went ahead and designed and ordered the displays ahead of time so I could have them ready at a moment's notice! I don't really need them now that I wasn't selected, but now I am ready to go to trade shows! 
  • Invested in Advertising - You know how a lot of the businesses on the show say things like "We have had $100,000 in sales in our first 3 months". I figured that a business doesn't just launch and everyone knows about it. If they are getting $100,000 in sales right off the bat... they are probably spending a good chunk of that, if not more, on advertising! So I would watch the show and tell myself "if I get the call to audition for the show that is when I will start spending more on advertising". WELL, I don't exactly have the funds (or risk tolerance) to invest $100,000 in advertising but I did bump up the budget a little. And I have seen a bump in sales from it! 

There are a lot more things I have learned throughout this experience, the ones I listed above are the main items! Now I am going to spend the next year growing and learning so I can apply for season 12!