Shark Tank is now in its seventh season, which means hundreds of budding entrepreneurs have stepped onto the carpet and pitched their business to the panel. Thursday on Beyond the Tank, viewers will get a rare treat: an update on a company that secured a deal with Robert Herjavec way back in Season 1.
The company was Grill Charms. Its product was simple: a tag for grilled meats that reminds the chef how to cook to each diner’s specifications — lest someone who asked for a mildly spiced piece of chicken end up with extra hot Jamaican Jerk, as entrepreneur Leslie Haywood wrote on her blog. It was that experience that led her to create Grill Charms about 10 years ago.
— Beyond The Tank (@BeyondTheTankTV) January 26, 2016
Robert Herjavec snagged 25 percent of Grill Charms for $50,000. Haywood told Heavy that her sales skyrocketed after Shark Tank, and she eventually made “the very difficult decision” to license her product to an outside company. In an interview with Shark Tank Blog back in 2013, she said what started off as a 5-year-plan to be the next Martha Stewart turned into a renewed understanding of what success meant to her.
“I came to realize my definition of success is freedom. I had less freedom as I got bigger, it was hard work. My kids are still young, I thought maybe that first kind of success isn’t really what I wanted, I wanted to spend time with my kids.”
The licensing company approached Haywood after monitoring her product’s post-Shark Tank sales. A larger operation had already knocked off Grill Charms, according to Haywood, something she was not able to control. She now receives quarterly royalties that will continue in perpetuity.
But that is far from the end of her entrepreneurial life. She told Shark Tank Blog she was in talks to license other products through that same company.
— Leslie Haywood (@GrillCharmer) July 9, 2015
In that 2013 interview, Haywood noted that exit strategy is rarely discussed on Shark Tank. She also gave a hint as to where Herjavec’s stake in the company might currently lie.
“Robert is so awesome, I call him when I need him, but I haven’t needed him a lot. He’s so giving of his time, when I need something, he’s there within 24 hours. Robert has been made whole, he’s had his exit strategy.”
In the Heavy interview, published this week, she gave more insight into her business relationship with her Shark Tank investor.
“One of the main reasons I went with Robert in the first place was because he said he believed in me. For the first few years after the show, I kicked butt and needed very little from him.”
And how did she get on Shark Tank to begin with? As it turns out, she has a story similar to many successful Shark Tank pitchers: she was recruited. In an undated interview with Charleston City Paper, she said a Shark Tank producer sent her an email after seeing her on a CNBC program, Big Idea With Donny Deutsch. Since Shark Tank was still new, they recommended she have a look at some clips from the U.K. show Dragon’s Den, one of several international shows that follow the same model.
At the time, Haywood said she was glad to be a “guinea pig,” since she did not have to compete with other would-be pitchers to get a coveted slot on the program.
Viewers can check out the update from Grill Charms on Thursday night’s Beyond the Tank at 8 p.m. on ABC. A new episode of Shark Tank airs Friday at 9 p.m.
[Photo by John Medina/Getty Images]