‘Shark Tank’ Contestant’s Brutal Grilling Becomes Valuable Lesson

Shark Tank was not an easy ride for Kaeya Majmundar. The Emory University student and creator of BZBox, a collapsible storage box, faced tough questions from the sharks about all aspects of her fledgling business. When her Shark Tank episode aired as the season 5 finale, she was nervous to revisit the event. So much so that she actually prepped her friends and family that attended a private viewing party.

“Just a few minutes before it aired, I got up to say a few words and I emphasized the fact that pitching to the Sharks is a million times harder than it looks and I was like ‘please don’t judge me!’ Everyone laughed and throughout my pitch, everyone around me was cheering for me and laughing at the funny moments and just so supportive.”

Despite the hard questions pointed at Majmundar, her Shark Tank appearance ended in a deal with Lori Greiner for a 40 percent stake in the company. However, Majmundar told the Chicago Tribune that all on-air deals are “handshake” deals and her arrangement with Greiner changed after she left the studio. Greiner never took equity and now acts in a “mentorship” role.

“I don’t see her at all physically. If I need to contact or call her or email her, ask her some questions, she’s right there. I also talk to her team. I wouldn’t call it hands-off, but she definitely lets the entrepreneurs build their businesses themselves.”

The email-only approach is similar to the relationship the proprietor of Villy Custom Bikes said exists with one of that company’s Shark Tank investors, Mark Cuban.

The BZBox episode aired in May, 2014, nearly a year after its June, 2013 taping. The spike in sales that resulted — Majmundar sold 1,000 units in the 48 hours after the broadcast — eventually exhausted her inventory and she was not able to restock before the holiday season.

Majmundar said she took the opportunity to learn from her Shark Tank experience and the advice she got from the sharks.

“At the time I think I was on the defensive. I went back and soaked in the experience and listened to everything they said.”

As a result her product has evolved from a moving box to a home storage unit and is available in plastic and canvas. Majmundar has also started a Kickstarter campaign for her next venture, a tank top that converts into a bag.

She also makes no apologies for fighting for a deal. She received criticism for pleading to the point of begging Lori Greiner to take a chance on her.

“I knew in order to make it, I needed to have some advisor or mentor to take me through the process, which is why I was pushing so hard. I had gotten both positive and negative feedback, but I’d do it again 100 times over.”

New episodes of Shark Tank return Friday, January 9, on ABC.

[Image: ABC]