You may think that it takes a great innovation to impress producers enough to get on Shark Tank and ask for an investment. But some of the most successful companies that have come out of the program — TMZ reported last July that Scrub Daddy has made $75 million since partnering with Lori Greiner, enough to inspire impostors — have been simple ideas with a unique hook.
Potato Parcel might not be the next handy device to put in your kitchen, but Kevin O’Leary apparently had great faith that enough people would want to send messages on potatoes that he invested $50,000 for 10 percent and royalties, according to Business 2 Community. There was even a bit of competition in the tank for a piece of the not-quite-produce-but-still-a-product-you-could-eat business, as Robert Herjavec also made an offer.
Now, in advance of a Shark Tank casting call in Dallas, Alex Craig, the man behind Potato Parcel, is giving the Dallas Observer some tips on how to get on the show. Craig took four years to get there himself, and one of his biggest pieces of advice is to simply keep trying. Apart from that, he recommends smiling and remembering it’s a television show and that’s the primary focus of producers.
“[P]ut yourself in the shoes of a producer on the show and brainstorm what you can do differently to stand out from everyone else applying for the show and what you can do that will make for great TV.”
As for what makes great television, Craig offered several specific tips, in addition to keeping that grin plastered on your face.
“Having a unique business is key. Emotional appeal: Whether that’s a personal story of hardship tied to your business, or doing something quirky or funny, striking a chord that brings out emotion in the producers is what they want for their audience too. Energy is a must. They want to see people incredibly enthusiastic, over the top and passionate about their business. It’s OK to be cheesy and corny.”
For a guy whose inventory is made up of gel roller pens and Idaho Russet potatoes, one might assume he’s all for being cheesy and corny. His approach even got him an influx of cash at the end of the day.
Of course, the idea alone wasn’t good enough. O’Leary is famous for saying he’s all about the money, and sales were what set Potato Parcel apart. A Quartz article from March 2016 reported on the start-up’s rapidly increasing revenues, clocking in at $25,000 for the month of February 2016 prior to its Shark Tank appearance.
In the weeks since appearing on the program, Potato Parcel has taken advantage of the publicity and the potato’s striking resemblance to a prominent politician: Donald Trump. Eater reported shortly after the U.S. presidential election in November 2016 that the company was selling potatoes with Trump’s face — custom message optional — and shipping throughout the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Europe.
Viewers of Shark Tank who caught Craig’s appearance last fall will recall he no longer owns the company. He sold it to Riad Bekhit for cash and a royalty, with the condition Craig could accompany him to Shark Tank if Potato Parcel ever got there. At the time the show aired, Craig told the Dallas Observer that the experience was unique.
“Everyone is asking questions at once. They edited it down to make it look smooth, but really it’s chaos.”
Shark Tank airs Friday nights on ABC.
[Featured Image by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]