Shark Tank viewers will get an update tonight on Lani Lazzari, the entrepreneur behind Simple Sugars who made a deal with Mark Cuban while still a teenager. Lazzari will appear on Beyond the Tank to discuss what’s happened since her season 4 pitch and how she’s continuing to achieve success.
Last year, Lazzari, who started her business when she was only 11-years-old, revealed the most stressful part of her first Shark Tank experience. Surprisingly, it was not appearing in front of a panel of multi-millionaires as an 18-year-old. As she told Smart Business, in May, 2015, it was the process that came after she’d taped her segment.
“[Waiting] was the most stressful part of the whole thing. It wasn’t actually going and doing the pitch; it was just waiting to hear — waiting for them to get in touch with you and tell you if your episode was going to be on TV.”
She eventually received that confirmation after her deal with Cuban — $100,000 for 33 percent — closed. She received her funding and later that same month was told her episode would air in two weeks.
Simple Sugars received a predictable spike in sales after her Shark Tank episode aired, but thankfully, those sales never plummeted after the influx of Shark Tank orders. Lazzari hit $1 million in sales within six weeks. Her online sales eventually leveled off, but she has retained her repeat customers.
In a profile for The Everygirl, Lazzari said she started her first business in the fourth grade, sewing handmade scrunchies to save up enough money for an iPod. The recipe for Simple Sugars was founded when she was 11, after growing up with eczema and being unable to find a commercial product that worked for her. Simple Sugars was an e-commerce business by the time Lazzari turned 13-years-old.
Despite her young age, Lazzari took personal ownership of her company. In a 2009 Forbes article, then 15-year-old Lani said that, although it was a legal requirement that the company be her in mother’s name, “I’m the one who runs the business.” As she told Smart Business, the difficulties of being a young entrepreneur with a growing business became more acute for Lazzari when she turned 18, got her name on the paperwork, and then tried to get a bank loan.
“Since the business was in my name when I went to the bank and asked for a loan they basically laughed in my face.”
At about the same time, a Shark Tank producer reached out to her and asked if she’d consider auditioning for the show. Lazzari was only a casual fan, but decided to apply after doing some research. That happened two weeks before her high school graduation. She told The Everygirl she only stepped on to the Shark Tank carpet “after five months of contracts and audition tapes.”
In November, 2014, Business Insider called Simple Sugars one of the 12 most successful Shark Tank businesses, noting it had already brought in $3 million in revenue that year. Cuban called Simple Sugars one of his best Shark Tank investments to date in a CNBC interview.
Lazzari told The Everygirl her path to success was different than her high school peers — she was focused on her company, while others saw her entrepreneurship merely as a resume bullet point that would help her pursue higher education. She wanted to make Simple Sugars a million-dollar company by the age of 21, and she appears to have met that goal. Learning as you go is something all entrepreneurs have to do, she said.
“I think a big part of entrepreneurship is being able to problem solve. There is no rulebook for starting your own business and no formula you can follow to be successful. You have to be willing to do what it takes to figure it out.”
Lazzari’s Beyond the Tank update will air Thursday night at 8 p.m. on ABC. A new episode of Shark Tank airs Friday at 9 p.m.
[Photo courtesy of Simple Sugars/Instagram]