When Robert Herjavec landed a deal with Natural Grip entrepreneur Ashley Drake, Daymond John was none too pleased. As the FUBU mogul told Business Insider back in November 2014, he thought he was the best fit for Drake’s product, which combined his interests in apparel, fitness, and crossfit.
“The deal was apparel-based, it was fitness-based, and Robert beat me out. So I’m sitting there saying to myself, ‘Should I be mad at Robert or should I be mad at myself?’ Because this is a natural layup for me. The person knows my expertise. What didn’t I communicate to that person that made me lose the deal, or what did I say to that person that may have pissed them off?”
John may be interested to know that he wasn’t wrong when he thought that Natural Grip was a good fit for his portfolio. It turns out that Drake came on to Shark Tank hoping to score a deal with him over any of the other sharks. She told Success magazine in December 2015, that she even surprised herself by opting for Herjavec’s deal. At the end of her Shark Tank segment, Drake was left to decide between the two investors.
“Going in, my goal had been to get Daymond, since he’s in the fitness space. But you have to go with your gut, and I felt in the moment that Robert was going to be best for the company. He had a real excitement about our product and the possibility for our growth.”
Shark Tank fans got a glimpse of how that turned out when The Natural Grip was featured on Beyond the Tank. As Drake revealed in an Instagram post, the segment was taped over a year ago, and much has changed. Viewers saw Drake stressed by sales and deciding how to allocate her team members’ time — sales versus manufacturing. During a meeting with Robert, the internet security entrepreneur told the military veteran she was being too hard on herself.
One key piece of advice Herjavec had for Drake, as shown on Beyond the Tank, was to focus on participating in trade shows. Drake was reluctant because The Natural Grip made little to no profit at those events. Herjavec said most companies lose money at trade shows and that the point is more to develop the brand.
That advice is something Drake has taken to heart. She provided an update on The Natural Grip to Heavy in September 2015, as she was coming up on the one-year anniversary of her November 2014, Shark Tank episode. Drake said selling The Natural Grip within the fitness industry has been a big boost for the company.
“Earlier this year Robert made it a point to tell me that we needed to have a presence at large scale fitness events as a vendor. I have taken his guidance and we are more successful because of it. Opportunities and increased exposure have come our way that we wouldn’t have had if Robert had not encouraged me to take the company to these events.”
She also said getting a Shark Tank investment is just one part of success. Once an entrepreneur takes on an investor, that investor wants to see a return, and running a profitable business is more than a full-time job.
But anyone who wants to nail their Shark Tank pitch might want to follow Drake’s model. She famously brought on an extraordinary athlete who used the product on uneven bars on the stage. But as much as that woman’s athleticism impressed the panel, so did Drake’s confidence and motivation. The famously “mean” shark, Kevin O’Leary, aka, “Mr. Wonderful,” even called her “one motivated cowboy,” and urged his fellow panelists to invest.
That pitch did not come out of nowhere. Drake gave her presentation multiple times in her home, in front of pictures of the sharks. As a result, she told Success, she wasn’t nervous when she pitched on-set.
Shark Tank airs on ABC and CNBC.
[Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images]