Welcome to Problem Solved, a Startup To Scale mini series co-hosted by myself, Jordan Buckner and Aaron Gailmor, founder of Brass Roots. I’m partnering with Aaron as he’s a friend and fellow food founder who’s in the trenches everyday.
For today’s episode, we’re going to turn the mic on Aaron as his Shark Tank Pitch recently aired and I have a ton of questions for him.
Startup to Scale is a podcast by Foodbevy, an online community to connect emerging food, beverage, and CPG founders to great resources and partners to grow their business. Visit us at Foodbevy.com to learn about becoming a member or an industry partner today.
Jordan Buckner: [00:00:00] Welcome to Problem Solved, a startup to scale miniseries co-hosted by myself, Jordan Buckner and Aaron Gailmor, founder of Brass Roots. I'm partnering with Aaron as he's a friend and fellow food founder who's in the trenches every day for this episode. We're going to turn the mic on. Aaron, as his Shark Tank pitch recently aired, and I have a ton of questions for him.
So, Aaron, how are you?
Aaron Gailmor: I'm doing well, Jordan excited to chat about Shark Tank.
Jordan Buckner: Oh my God. I know. There's been a lot going on just in the last couple of months. So your episode air just in January, 2023, near season 14, episode 12, I believe, for anyone who checks, wants to check it out. And if you watch, we know that you asked for $400,000 for 7% equity to the sharks.
So what happen?
Aaron Gailmor: Yeah, I mean we didn't get a deal. But, you know, , I would say [00:01:00] the expectation and hope that it would turn into. , a lot of good publicity for us. Definitely came true for me, which is, which has been great. We, you know, we had an incredible amount of traffic. We had about a hundred thousand people visit our site in Amazon over the few days after Shark Tank after the episode, which was a big jump from prior, prior weeks, which is really cool..
Jordan Buckner: Oh my gosh, that's huge. I know there's like a lot of, that's probably just people who are like curious and interested. Did you see like a good uptick in sales too?
Aaron Gailmor: Yeah. Yeah, we, had our best month in January by about five times, but four, well, four, four and a half times or so online. And so that was obviously awesome.
And you know, the thing is like, not only as you knew, not only does it just boost your top line, but , it, it boosts our, your liquidity quite a bit. Mm-hmm. And your cash and things like that. And right now, that's extremely important. Y
Jordan Buckner: yeah. You know, as, as [00:02:00] most founders know, our best margins are on D two C typically, but it gets eroded once we throw in a bunch of, like, advertising all these other costs there.
But if you're able to just drive that traffic from things like Shark Tank than those become much more profitable .
Aaron Gailmor: E. Exactly. Yeah. My return on ad spend looked great. in January, .
Jordan Buckner: So, you know, it's interesting because I'll be honest, like when I first started t squares six years ago or so, everyone of course is like, oh, you should be on Shark Tank.
And honestly, I like wrote them off. I'm like, no, that's like not really a. Like helpful, like why would I go on Shark Tank? And I think I actually like got an email from a casting director at one point and I was like, no, I'm just gonna pass. Like, it's not my thing. I'm focused on the business, but my mindset on it's completely changed in the last, you know, three, four years is I realized the power of it.
And so I would love to hear just like how you think of Shark Tank and and why you thought it was a good opportunity for Brass Roots.
Aaron Gailmor: Yeah, it's funny [00:03:00] you say that. I was told several years before the same thing and I had the same reaction. And maybe part of it was me just thinking, ah, it's just, , it's too much of a long shot.
Like I should just pour my resources and time into stuff that I think is within reach. But I had the same reaction in hindsight now, you know, we, especially. And for any consumer brand, but especially us as I look back, like we are trying to introduce this new food, this new ingredient, Sacha Inchi that people do not know.
Generally your average person doesn't. And it's, you know, it's even in another language, right? Sacha Inchi. So it's like we need every ounce of publicity we can get and help. So that part of it is. Amazingly helpful. And the other thing is that part of the, there's so much in terms of food and beverage brands and products out there.
And, but this is a people business at the end [00:04:00] of the day both consumers and other. business partners and stakeholders, retailers, you know, it's people ultimately that decide who gets into their, like, you know, Kroger or h e b or, or name your retailer. So whenever another person gets to see you as a founder and learn more about you and the product on national television, it's this really big advantage because I just think.
Them understanding you more or feeling like they know you a bit more is a huge advantage in a very competitive, crowded universe. .
Jordan Buckner: Yeah, I love that. You know, it's interesting because I originally saw Shark Tank as like, you go on to get an investment from like one of the sharks, and I always saw those, I was like, oh, I don't know if I would take those deals.
Right. And like back then it was like 20% equity for $50,000 or something. Right? Like the valuations were were much different. And it's kinda changed recently, but I always thought like, oh, I [00:05:00] don't know if I would actually want one of those sharks as an investor. . But what I came to realize later is that whether you get a dealer or not, it's like having a national like television commercial for your business.
That's what like 3, 4, 5 minutes long for your segment, which is huge. And as you mentioned, right, it really grows just your awareness. Overall of people who are really interested and might wanna become supporters. And as you mentioned, retailers see that, buyers see that and they get excited too.
They're like, oh wow, you were on Shark Tank. That's such a cool thing. And there's a sense of like excitement and envy that kind of comes from it. But it is a conversation star there. People like want those brands and their stores. They want the cool cache. And so all those other external benefits and reasons are huge.
Aaron Gailmor: Yeah, a hundred percent. I view it almost as, like, another way to look at it is you've, it's another filter, you know, another filter that any other possible partners of your business and [00:06:00] consumers use as a way to say, oh, okay, well they got on Shark Tank, let's take it a closer look or, right. And so you know, and don't get me wrong, like I think.
now as it, I can exhale and it aired and I feel good about it overall. It doesn't create. A business or solve all your problems overnight. It just gives you this opportunity. And, you know, I think entrepreneurship is all about seizing opportunities. Hmm. So if you don't seize it and execute on it, then it was valueless.
But and so that's kind of what I'm like charging myself with now. Right. It is just, you seize the opportunity. and take advantage of it and use that.
Jordan Buckner: Well let's get into some of those because I, I remember hearing when Far Shark Tank first started airing that like businesses', websites would crash because of all the traffic.
And I think now there's a lot more support around helping founders like, prepare for what could happen in post Shark Tank. . And so how, how are you doing [00:07:00] things to best take advantage of the opportunities in terms of like the nuisance of awareness that's going on?
Aaron Gailmor: Yeah, I mean, we definitely utilize the imagery, graphics, content, everything around it.
In general, when I sent out emails, I'm absolutely using. Shark Tank brand in a lot of my subjects subject lines. Just because again, it's like, it's that hook, you know? It's that extra filter and people do take a closer look. The, our website now, if you go to our website, you know, you can see that we are on Shark Tank pretty much immediately.
We even have. Shark Tank product listings on our website, so like a whole section devoted to Shark Tank. Because the idea was we, you know, the consumers have very limited windows of time, and so you want to tr treat it as a funnel and allow the, you know, if they first saw you somehow on Shark Tank or heard from someone that you're on Shark Tank, make it simple on them.
and [00:08:00] allow them to just kind of fall into this funnel and see exactly what products you think they should buy. And then, like I said, email outreach. We're using, I mean, in my any presentation, sales presentations. It's featured always. Thankfully things like, technology has.
You know, far enough so that you know, the days 10 years ago when there were website issues from Shark Tank when we reached out to Shopify to warn them of this, they were like, that's great, but don't worry about it, . It's gonna be just fine. We're used to this. And they were right. You know, we had no issues.
So the other thing though is I, I've spoken to a lot of different founders who have been on specifically food and beverage founders who have been on. And so we prepped a lot just talking to them , and knowing what to do. And it really helped us also figure out how. I, in sales we would expect in traffic and things like that.
Jordan Buckner: No, I think that's awesome. Are there any other learnings that you've gone through or that you heard from other food and beverage founders in terms of what to expect or how to, to leverage [00:09:00] Shark Tank? I love all the examples that you've provided. I'm just kind of curious if there's other things that you've heard.
Aaron Gailmor: Yeah, I, one of the things I, in speaking to many is I found that. Historically, people, companies prioritize their website over Amazon and I, you know, so what I mean by that basically is that they didn't increase their inventory at Amazon. . And certainly to an extent that's like impossible. Amazon's hard to work with in terms of just saying, yeah, sure, we'll increase your inventory limits by five times just because you're going on a show.
But we were able to maneuver that and get some help from Amazon in advance and. My whole theory is, you know, especially a neutral viewer who didn't hear about you from a friend, but is just watching and seeing you on an episode of Shark Tank. They, if they're gonna purchase, they want as low friction of a purchase as possible.
And so Amazon, to [00:10:00] me was the place to send a lot of people and So we really prioritized getting as much inventory in getting, you know, prime available for all of our products to the, to the extent possible. We didn't get all of 'em on there, but and that really helped increase our sales a lot.
Jordan Buckner: I love that. And I think that a lot of founders do, right? When you have this crunch, you need to make a bunch of inventory. It's easier just to think, to do it through your own d, c and fulfillment. But especially if you're like doing your own fulfillment, it can be a huge influx of orders.
I talked to other founders and you're like, they're like, you know, we were expecting a lot of orders, but it blew without the water. Yep. And having a partner like Amazon, we. Like get your inventory to them and they have a near, I won't say perfect, but you know, pretty good near perfect track record for just getting high volumes of products out.
It takes a lot of that headache away that might clog up yourself or other distribution partners who might not be used to working with such an influx. And so I'm very, very [00:11:00] bullish on like using Amazon and I think not just Shark Tank. I think for this applies to anyone that's having like big PR coming.
You know, whether they're in like Good Morning America or even just your local, you know, television network. A lot of people, a lot of brands, right? We want people to buy from our websites, but for consumer, most of the time it's easier for them to order on something like Amazon. It's two clicks. They don't have to put anything else in and it's done.
And I think it's founders. We need to make sure we're reducing the purchase friction as much as possible. Yeah, a hundred percent. I love that. I know on your pitch as well, you talked about. , you know, your, your relationship with investors and bring on the older investors into the new business as well.
How have your conversations changed either with, in current investors or new potential investors in the business?
Aaron Gailmor: Yeah. You know, it's interesting, right? Like Shark Tank, this kind of gets underappreciated, but the hard part about shark tank , of course, you're in front of a lot of really [00:12:00] smart, seasoned people , with lots of money and success.
But you have such a limited window to pitch, and normally a normal process is very drawn out. It's one-on-one, so your attention isn't split. You have a lot of opportunity to talk through the why of certain decisions you made or problem solve. As you go and change structure, things like that, very limited opportunity to do that stuff on a pitch like Shark Tank and so coming out of my episode, you know, part of the theme of my episode was that I was loyal to invest my initial investors and brought them on as I rebranded.
And , the good part about that, as I was loyal, the bad part was that I got further diluted and the sharks didn't like that part. But I've had since investors reach out after watching Love that loyalty and you know, I think we're gonna end up getting some investment from that as a result. So that's just a really interesting dynamic that happens.
And you know, hopefully it pays off. Hopefully that loyalty [00:13:00] pays off .
Jordan Buckner: You know, I totally get that because even a number of years ago, we did a Kickstarter campaign for TS Squares, and it was successful, but we only raised like $11,000. Right? Not astronomical, but from that Kickstarter campaign and investor found us, reached out and ultimately ended up putting in $250,000.
Of equity into the business from our $11,000 kick trailer raised. And without that, we wouldn't have been on their radar to actually make that investment. And so I think there's all these externalities that happen. As well. I, there's another founder we had on our podcast or a little while ago, called Lil Bucks and they had a crowdfunding campaign and similarly, they, we met their goal, but it was, you know, a couple hundred thousand dollars or.
And then after that, they had investors reached out and then raised, you know, more than double that amount in inequity, just from [00:14:00] proving the success and the track record along the way. And so I always think that that's another huge benefit for founders to always think about.
Aaron Gailmor: Yeah, I agree. I absolutely agree.
The other thing that's interesting, Jordan, is that you know, a lot of the, I mean, I was really, I was definitely frustrated that I did not get an investment. Like I am very positive now, and but at the time I was definitely frustrated. But every weakness or constructive piece of criticism that the Sharks gave, We had already been considering, you know, as a point of change and required like, pivot for us in some form and that it definitely sealed the deal to make a lot of changes and, you know, we also needed money and we didn't get it.
And so it, when you need money and in order for to survive or you can make a bunch of changes to survive all that stuff really helped and it kind of, I guess hearing. Very intelligent experienced people tell you, yeah, you [00:15:00] should do this and this and this. It definitely kickstarted a lot of changes, you know, so we slimed down product line, our product lines and rationalized skews and things like that.
, and I definitely a better business
Jordan Buckner: today. No, I think that's so important. And as you know, right, like there's all. These things that we bring along with us as a founder just every single day, just because we've always done it that way. And so I think having these key moments that allow us to step back and pivot and make major changes are, are huge.
One last thing I wanted to ask as well. Were there any surprising things or conversations that happened after Shark Tank? I know there's like a million people that reached out to you with ideas or comments or opportunities. Was there anything that stuck out that maybe was random?
Aaron Gailmor: I think one funny thing that I've experienced is, People, I've gotten on some Zoom calls and people didn't expect like me as a founder to join or something like that, and they knew about Shark Tank and they get.
Kind of you know, a shock when I, when I peer and [00:16:00] cuz they've only seen me on tv. And that part has been really funny to me because obviously I'm like, trust me, , I'm a very normal person. I shouldn't be getting any celebrity status, but that's cracked me up when it's happened a couple times.
Jordan Buckner: Well, I mean, obviously if you're on a shark tank, you're like the CEO of this huge company, of course time for a random zoom call ,
Aaron Gailmor: right? So that's cracked me up. I think, you know, what's been cool is it's definitely a result, like we're, we'll get into some new retailers this year. One specifically that I won't name yet, but it, you know, , the buyer reached out after our episode and.
This gets back to my point of just about this being a people business. You know, he was like, Hey, your project product looks really interesting. I think it could be a good fit with us. And this is a big retailer. This is, this will, you know, double our size. And and he is like, why don't let me tell you all about myself and, and you tell me about you.
But he really valued. , all of the things that I said on, the show related to the way I, you know treat my [00:17:00] investors the way we treat our customers, what our mission is as a company. And I didn't expect, Necessarily for a buyer of a very large retailer to care. You know, usually it's my thought is it's all about, you know, can you generate sales and gross margin for their stores, but there's clearly a lot more to it.
And so I think that was a bit surprising, obviously, really, really grate. Surprising to the upside for me. But , that's really cool. So, you know, I just visited with them last week, had a great visit, and I'm quite sure it wouldn't have happened without the episode. The other thing I would say though is it that surprised me it didn't really, but it was just something that hit home is , it actually really is an authentic show.
You know, there's no script. You get one. The sharks don't know who you are, they don't know what your product is. And so it's a real pitch. If you screw up, either that's gonna air or it's just, you're not gonna air at all, but you screw up and that's fair game. And think [00:18:00] that is probably why it's going on 15 seasons now.
You know, it's the real deal.
Jordan Buckner: Well, Aaron, it sounds like even though you didn't get the investment on the show, there are so many opportunities that have come afterwards and will continue to, and I can't wait to cons continue to see all the doors that open up because of this opportunity and your just ability to build an awesome company as a founder.
So thanks for chatting about this today and sharing your story on Shark Tank with all of the listeners we have.
Aaron Gailmor: Thanks, Jordan. It's it's great as always, man.