The founders of a cookie startup used a rehearsal trick from Beyoncé to conquer their nerves before going on 'Shark Tank' — and won $300,000 from Alex Rodriguez

NuiOn ‘Shark Tank,’ the founders of Nui didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
  • Before going on “Shark Tank,” the founders of the Nui cookie company used almost the same technique as Beyoncé: boosting their heart rate while rehearsing their pitch.
  • They also handed out cookies to ingratiate themselves with casting agents.
  • Ultimately, Nui landed a $US300,000 deal with a guest shark, Alex Rodriguez.

Kristoffer Quiaoit and Victor Macias arrived early to the casting call for “Shark Tank.”

Unfortunately, so did everyone else.

About 1,000 people stood in line in front of them – and the entrepreneurs knew they had to find some way to stand out among the crowd.

Quiaoit and Macias are the founders of Nui, which makes cookies that are low in sugar and carbohydrates, originally geared toward people on the ketogenic diet. They’d arrived at the casting call in spring 2018 armed with samples – and standing in line, they knew what they had to do.

The Nui founders started walking up to casting agents, Quiaoit remembered. They’d say, “Hey, I’m not trying to bribe you or anything, but I know it’s going to be a very long day and you all are going to be hungry. So here are some cookies.”

“We thought they would at least have a say in who’s going to move on to whatever the next step of the process was,” Quiaoit said. “If we go in there cold, we’re just going to be like everybody else.”

Whether because of their impeccable pitch or their free treats (or both), the Nui founders made the cut and were invited to pitch the Sharks a few months later.

The Nui founders refused to leave anything to chance

In that time, they committed themselves to an intense preparation regimen. “Our goal,” Macias said, was “don’t leave anything to chance” – including how nervous they’d feel while standing on the “Shark Tank” stage.

While rehearsing, they’d try to make themselves feel as anxious and as out-of-breath as possible. Specifically, they borrowed a strategy from Beyoncé, whose former trainer told INSIDER that he made her run and sing at the same time until the songs sounded exactly the way they did on the album.

The Nui founders tweaked that technique slightly: To get their heart rates up, they’d drink coffee and do push-ups, then practice delivering their pitch. “We felt like we were ready for anything,” Quiaoit said. (Perhaps not coincidentally, the founders of Cousins Maine Lobster used a similar rehearsal strategy before appearing on “Shark Tank.”)

When the doors to the “Shark Tank” stage flew open later that summer, they were just as nervous as they’d anticipated.

“My heart was beating so hard,” Quiaoit said. “I’ve never felt that much adrenaline going through my body before.”

But he said that once they got on stage, “I felt very comfortable because this is what we expected: We expected to be nervous, we expected to be anxious, and we had prepared for it.”

The episode, which aired in November, was dramatic. After requesting $US300,000 for 10% of the company, the Nui founders received offers from Kevin O’Leary and Barbara Corcoran – but both involved royalties.

Read more:
An entrepreneur who landed a $US250,000 offer on ‘Shark Tank’ was thrilled when a Shark said her company ‘sucks’ and questioned its valuation

Then a guest shark, the former MLB player Alex Rodriguez, chimed in, saying Jennifer Lopez – now his fiancée – absolutely loves cookies. He offered the founders $US300,000 in exchange for 25% of the company. After some discussion, during which Rodriguez nearly rescinded his offer, the Nui founders accepted the deal.

Ultimately, the deal with Rodriguez didn’t pan out – but Nui hasn’t suffered much. In 2018, the company brought in $US1.4 million.

The Nui founders said that despite their deal falling through, they were glad they appeared on the show.

“The amount of exposure we got was great in and of itself,” Quiaoit said, adding that they were pleased with the impression they made on viewers.

“After that, everything else is just a bonus.”

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