Entrepreneurs find each other, maybe especially tea entrepreneurs, be it on Twitter, blogs…they just do. There is a Facebook page for people who have been on the TV show Shark Tank. Some have been funded, some not. They’ve added people who have tried to get on and who want to get on Shark Tank. When one of them sees someone on Twitter or other social media they think would make a good addition to the board, they are invited. Well, I was very fortunate and received an invitation and have been in entrepreneur paradise ever since.
It wasn’t long, maybe the first time I visited, that someone in a totally unrelated business said “Oh, you’ve got to get together with ______________ from ________________ tea company”. And, sure enough, it wasn’t long after that that we were talking on the phone like old friends and tea soul-mates.
Speaking of tea and Shark Tank, I recently heard one of the Shark’s, Kevin O’Leary, say in an interview that he likes businesses ‘like tea businesses that are making money’. And, wasn’t it he and Daymond John who funded Talbott Teas and got them a deal with Jamba Juice for an undisclosed amount?
O’Leary also participates in the Canadian version of Shark Tank called Dragon’s Den, where he recently lost out on a deal to two other investors in a ‘party-plan’ type of tea business that started in Canada and is now moving into the United States. So, there are some very definitely tea-friendly opportunities in the Tank (or Den).
There are few barriers to entry in the specialty tea business. Once you have entered, however, it’s not a smooth ride because the waters are now teeming with lots and lots of fish of all shapes and sizes, and even a few sharks, all who want a bite out of the tea pie. But there are niches within niches and it’s up to each tea-preneur to find where they fit in the big picture of specialty tea, itself a small niche in the overall tea market.
If you want to swim with the sharks without getting eaten alive (shades of Harvey Mackay’s book of the same name), know who’s in the tank. But enjoy…the water’s fine!
Very interesting Diane. I’ve watched Shark Tank a few times and have a love/hate relationship with the show. It feels like some of the people just haven’t watched the show before – which is impossible I’m sure. They ask for things that you just know aren’t going to fly and then seem distressed when the sharks act like themselves.
It’s great to hear that they perceive the tea industry as HOT. I agree that opportunity continues to be available but I think the challenges are greater as all the easy pickings are gone. One must be a true entrepreneur and have a genuine love of tea to “make it” these days. That said, I’m ready to do some swimming in shark infested waters:)
“One must be a true entrepreneur and have a genuine love of tea to “make it” these days.”
Amen to that, Michelle!! And making it has more than one definition, for sure. Money isn’t enough..you need true passion and love of tea..I agree! People know when it’s there.