Barbara Corcoran has built a large portfolio of startups over eight seasons of “Shark Tank,” but she’s very selective about those with whom she spends most of her time.
Shortly after closing a $US200,000 deal for 10% equity with sibling entrepreneurs Jeff and Jen Martin, founders of Pipsnacks, Corcoran decided they were going to be worth her energy.
Since then, they have landed a deal with Whole Foods that got their line of gourmet popcorn into every Whole Foods location in the US, and they’re expecting sales this year to be around $US5 million, at a profit.
We met the Martins on the final day of Corcoran’s recent “all-star retreat,” where she invited five of her favourite “Shark Tank” companies to New York to share ideas and get to know each other.
They each shared their best advice to entrepreneurs.
Know your business.
Jeff’s advice to new entrepreneurs is to use the nascent stage of their business to learn how everything works. “Roll up your sleeves, and like for us, pop the popcorn for a little bit,” he said. “Work on the line boxing and shipping, receiving, pull up the financials and look at it.”
Micromanaging can be a disaster for a mature company, and Jeff recognises that. But he said he’s found that a deep knowledge of how your young company operates is what can get you to the point where your business is growing enough that you can start building your team.
“We’ve had some friends that have outsourced everything from day one, and it’s always a challenge because when stuff hits the fan, it’s like, ‘I have no idea how that even works,'” he said.
Jen’s advice happened to be about advice itself: Seek out insights from entrepreneurs who have already faced the trials you’re currently going through, but ultimately answer to yourself. Be open to advice, but don’t rely on it.
“Ask questions, see what people say,” she said. “But I think that you also should very much have to believe it yourself and know where your passion is.”
Advice can help guide you on your journey, but when things get difficult, you’re only going to survive if you trust in your own abilities and vision.