After the fan fare of Shark Tank, there is work to be done behind the scenes. Henry Miller, the spiced-honey entrepreneur who landed a deal with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec when he was only 16 years old, discovered that. When you attempt to be prepared, things don’t always go as planned, and in business even the most conscientious can end up with a disaster.
For Miller, the disaster was not in failing to prepare for the surge of orders he knew his business would receive once Shark Tank aired. He was on top of the situation, with his parents arranging for a fulfillment center to ship out product to customers. As he told Forbes contributor Ky Trang Ho this week, however, the center failed to properly pack the glass bottles, causing them to arrive broken at customers’ doorsteps.
Miller’s hefty deal — $300,000 for a whopping 75 percent of the business — did not close after the Shark Tank pitch was taped. Herjavec was the first to step back, and Cuban had different ideas about the family-owned business than Miller. As viewers who saw the Shark Tank episode will recall, Miller was touched when he learned as a youngster about the plight of bees, and asked his parents for a hive. His family eventually devoted a tremendous amount of capital in his endeavor, and Miller intended to use the Shark Tank investment to pay them back.
According to Miller, he eventually declined to enter a formal partnership with Cuban after listening to some professional advisors.
“Mark Cuban said he would honor the entire deal, and we moved forward for months itemizing everything, etc. He wanted to relocate the company to Dallas and completely take over.
“His lawyers drew up contracts, and the process went on for months. I had my lawyer and accountant review the contracts, and they both said Mr. Cuban was indirectly telling me not to take the deal. So, I took my attorney’s advice and declined the deal.”
Despite the lack of a deal, Miller says Cuban has remained a mentor to him and a supporter of Henry’s Humdingers.
“Mark has remained a mentor to me. He had one of his advisors check in with me the night my ‘Shark Tank’ episode aired, and he offered to lend me money to fund a large QVC purchase order. Luckily, I haven’t yet had to take him up on it. Mark also very kindly agreed to be one of my college references. He said he would answer business questions when I need advice. We email occasionally.”
Mark Cuban is not the only shark who has acted as a mentor to young entrepreneurs after Shark Tank, even after not getting a deal. Daymond John took on an active role as mentor to Moziah Bridges, the creator of Mo’s Bows who appeared on the show in Season 5. As Business Insider recalls, Moziah was then only 12 years old, making bow ties by hand under the watchful eyes of his mother Tramica and grandmother, a retired seamstress who began passing on her craft when Moziah was only 9 years old.
Bridges declined a royalty deal from Kevin O’Leary on Shark Tank and John offered to step in and provide business advice. Although the teenager never received any Shark Tank money, he got ongoing branding direction from John, a highly successful clothing mogul. When Business Insider reported on Mo’s Bows in 2015, he had seven employees, including the matriarchs in his family. John credited Bridges for his vision, especially at such a young age.
Season 8 of Shark Tank has just started, and there may be more young entrepreneurs and mentor relationships yet to come.
Shark Tank airs Friday nights on ABC.
[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]