6 lessons we learnt from pitching Your Mates on national TV show 'Shark Tank' | Your Mates Brewing Co.

6 lessons we learnt from appearing on national TV show, Shark Tank.

It’s been just over 2 years since we appeared on the national television show Shark Tank. Recently, our episode on the show was posted to YouTube and has started circulating around our community.

In the blur of life inside and outside of Your Mates, we often forget about this little chapter in our journey. In fact, we’ve only ever seen the episode once when it aired live back in 2018. Needless to say, our stomach’s were doing far less backflips rewatching it. This time we knew for sure that we weren’t about to be made to look like absolute kooks on national television. 

Reflecting back to that moment and everything that’s happened since then is pretty crazy. Since then, we secured the investment we were seeking and built our dream brewery, Your Mates Brew House on the Sunshine Coast. We’ve gone from having one intern to over 40 legendary employees who’re family to us. We were just 2 blokes with a dream and now we’re 2 blokes living their dream (although our dreams have continued to escalate in size over time). 

Throughout it all, our community of mates has continued to support us with unwavering froth and loyalty. Pure gratitude is the feeling we get when we take the time to reflect on these things. 

You might be thinking, but wait a minute, didn’t the fellas get rejected by the Sharks? You’re absolutely right on that one mate. Even though our pitch and back and forth with the Sharks was extremely positive, they turned our offer down and we left without any financial investment.  

At the time, it was a little disappointing. We’d worked bloody hard on the pitch, diving deep into all aspects of our business, ready to face the likes of seasoned entrepreneurs Steve Baxter, Janine Allis, Andrew Banks, Naomi Simson and Glen Richards

Looking back now, however, we’re glad that we didn’t lock into a deal with the Sharks. While it was disappointing, it wasn't discouraging. It was actually the contrary. The Sharks had praised our brand messaging, reinforcing what we already knew about the potential of the Your Mates brand.

Before we even left the studio we were making moves on alternative options to raise the capital. It was all there; the brand, our story, our pitch, the numbers, our burning passion to go to the next level. Before too long we raised what we needed with an amazing bunch of 'Mum and Dad' investors who're just as passionate about our mission as we are.

A lot can be learned from this experience, hindsight is a wonderful thing. We thought we'd share a narrowed down version of the lessons we learnt from our little 10 minutes of fame. You might get something out of it if you're an aspiring entrepreneur, or at least find it interesting if you're just here because you like beer.

Our Shark Tank experience - 6 major lessons

1. Don't undervalue yourself

Christen and I discussed what our capped share sale would be prior to walking into the tank. We'd decided that 40% would be the largest amount we'd sell if that meant bringing on someone with a wealth of experience in the 'fast moving consumable goods' (FMCG) game. We wanted to ensure that we had ownership of the business we'd worked so hard to build. In hindsight, we’re stoked that none of the sharks took the deal, as it was actually undervalued at the time. If you go into the tank knowing that you believe that your business will be successful, then you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from their experience, knowledge and advice. The sharks lost out on a huge opportunity…

2. Know your numbers

When you're talking with 5 seasoned professionals, you need to know your financials inside and out. We’d been brewing and selling beer on a micro scale for a number of years, so we understood the costs of business as well as the opportunity for future growth. We were extremely proud to hold our own ground for a 55min dive into our business. Our only aim (besides securing an investment) going into the Shark Tank was to not look like fools on national television.

3. Look the sharks straight in the eye

It was bloody daunting walking into the room with 5 Sharks and about 20 cameras rolling. The producers told us we had to wait 2 minutes for the cameras to calibrate once we walked through those doors. 

“It can be a little intimidating guys, so if you feel like looking away you can,” said the producer.

As we prepared to walk through the doors, McGarry whispered “we've just gotta staunch them!” 

So we did, giving them 2 extremely long minutes of gracious smiles and a confident gaze. Obviously our hearts were racing at 220BPM! 

4. That's a lot of money!

$750,000 sounds like a large investment to some people, but for us, this was the absolute minimum to have a proper crack at the wholesale market. The beer industry is an extremely heavy cash flow business. You brew beer one day, and get paid on average 3 months later. There’s no point raising money, getting half way through the project and running out. Go hard or go home!

5. Listen to the sharks! (but make your own decisions)

Between them they have more experience in their pinkies than you may ever hope to have, so listen to what they have to say.  But at the end of the day, YOU know your business better than anyone and ultimately YOU will always be the best person to make the decisions that will steer your business forward. In fact, listen to everyone, don't ignore anyone thinking you know better, because everytime you ignore someone that says 'you know what you should do...' you will miss some absolute nuggets of gold. **Disclaimer, you'll still have to sift through some other types of nuggets to get to said gold. Good advice can come from anywhere, take it or leave it, the choice is yours!

6. Bring the sharks a tinnie!

Overall, it was a truly amazing experience and we’re eternally thankful for the opportunity. It’s yet another crazy chapter in the Your Mates journey that we’ll always look back on as a huge learning experience. A big shoutout to the Sharks, especially to Steve and Glen who were kind enough to offer a mentoring session following the airing of the episode. Legends.

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