PiperWai cofounders Jess Edelstein and Sarah Ribner were underdogs when they pitched their all-natural deodorant to the investors on “Shark Tank” last summer.
They could claim $100,000 in sales — not bad for a company just under a year old — but it was far from enough to convince most of the Sharks that PiperWai could compete in such a crowded field.
Barbara Corcoran admired Edelstein and Ribner and decided to make a deal for $50,000 in exchange for 25% of the company. When the episode aired in December, the tiny company made a big splash. In the past three months, PiperWai has brought in more than $2 million in sales.
The sudden explosive success known as “the ‘Shark Tank’ effect” can actually be a curse to a business whose owners aren’t prepared for it, and so Corcoran stepped in to guide them. Her advice to Edelstein and Ribner, she told Business Insider at a Zebit event on Tuesday: “Don’t spend the money. Lock it up. Pretend you’re poor.”
PiperWai wasn’t built on a major investment. “What got them from Point A to Point B is not money, but creativity, intelligence, and chutzpah,” Corcoran said. “And that’s exactly what’s going to build them a huge empire in the future.”
Corcoran has also taught them the value of moving quickly and boldly. When the original PiperWai manufacturer couldn’t keep up with the spike in demand following the “Shark Tank” episode premiere, resulting in weeks of back orders, Corcoran encouraged the cofounders to fire their unreliable partner and find a new supplier.
“And fortunately for me, they’re women that listen,” Corcoran said. “I can’t say that about all my entrepreneurs.”
She said that many “Shark Tank” entrepreneurs become reckless with their money during the sales spike following their episode premiere, as if the “Shark Tank” buzz is everlasting. It’s why she’s telling them to remain disciplined and focused, and to not let the flow of income distract them from building a foundation that can be scaled.
“They’ll have a huge business — you wait and watch,” Corcoran said.