My Shark Tank Journey (+ My Baby Shark)
How I became a Mom while ending up on Shark Tank. (And the moment we all lost our 💩.)
I’ve loved Shark Tank for… ever, I don’t think I’ve ever missed an episode! As an entrepreneur, I’ve always dreamed that someday I would get the chance to walk out to the dramatic music and pitch my company to the Sharks.
Cut to Summer 2021: we had finally launched Kudos to the world after close to 3 years of R&D. Customers loved our product, and we were fortunate to be growing quickly.
Over the winter holidays that year (although when you work in ecommerce the holidays are the exact opposite of a holiday!) I looked at the Shark Tank application. It was intense. It was extremely long. It would have taken days, or even weeks to complete. And the odds you air? Terrible! The stats online said roughly ~40,000 companies apply every year and only about ~90 pitches make it on-air. That’s only a 0.22% chance I would actually make it on TV which in my mind was actually 0%, so I decided not to apply. Because on top of all that work and terrible odds, I was already 3 months pregnant and filming would likely happen right as my baby girl was being born.
Fast forward to the start of my 3rd trimester, 3 months later: I got an email… from the casting directors of SHARK TANK.
My first thought: SHUT UP. This is a scam. Shark Tank??? Reaching out to ME? No. Way.
The casting director wrote to me saying that she thought Kudos could be a great fit for the show and that I should apply. She asked if I could pull together the application in about a week. Well, on top of being 6 months pregnant, my husband and I were about to move into a new house in LA. Despite this being my dream, I just didn’t think I had the time I needed to dedicate to the intense, 100+ question application and video I needed to create. So, in my mind, I closed this door, telling myself there was just too much on my plate and I would reevaluate next year.
But a month later, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t staying true to my dreams. So, I went out on a limb and asked the casting director if it would be too late to apply. I got the greenlight! I figured my chances were even lower at this point since I was submitting so late, but I thought I should give it a shot, this was my dream! I spent 12+ hours putting my application together along with the video audition tape and hit send.
I was told I should hear something in the next few weeks… but I never did.
Fast forward to June 2022: I’m in the hospital after an emergency C-section with my daughter Avni finally in my arms.
I’m sitting there in awe of my baby girl, staring into her eyes, and soaking up this moment. Work is the farthest thing from my mind, besides getting excited about putting her in Kudos diapers ASAP.
And then I get an email alert. It was from Shark Tank. They wanted me to film!!! But, it was in July, only a month away! Like what!??? Did this really just happen? Here I am thinking that I was going to spend the next month on maternity leave to bond with my daughter and instead I was about to have my professional dream of being on Shark Tank come true.
I tell myself - you know what, I’m sure that they have someone at Shark Tank who designs the beautiful sets, helps write my pitch, etc. I quickly jump on a call with the producers, and I find out that it’s all on the entrepreneur, AKA me, Amrita, the brand new first-time mom. I had just had an emergency C-section, breastfeeding wasn’t going well and I needed time to recover. I have the world’s best team, but there was no way having literally just given birth that I’d be able to pull everything off in 4 weeks. As difficult as this decision was, I told the producers that I didn’t think I’d be able to do it and would reapply next year. As sad as I was, I knew it was best for me and my daughter.
Fast forward another month. My phone rings… It’s Shark Tank. They had another film date in September open up, and were wondering if I would be up to go pitch to the Sharks then. I told them I was IN! By then I was about 6 weeks postpartum. My whole family turned up to help. My parents came from Boston to help us out for a few months. My rockstar husband took over ALL nighttime duties for the next 6 weeks and my mom and dad did almost all childcare during the day all so I could focus every moment on preparing for Shark Tank.
My team poured their hearts into this, that’s really how we were able to pull everything off. Huge shoutout to Moira Finicane, Ilan Tagger, Jim Keighley and our amazing design parter - HatchMark Studio! We were also lucky to have the best Shark Tank producers who guided us through the whole process. First, we worked to quickly perfect our Kudos set for the show… in my living room.
Since most consumers don’t realize that even the softest diapers are made of plastic, we decided I should wear a plastic garbage bag to show how babies wearing traditional diapers are basically wrapped in plastic 24/7. Diaper engineering…made visually memorable, perfect!
We put in 60+ hours a week on Shark Tank prep for the next 6 weeks. Between designing the set, writing the pitch, practicing (and practicing and practicing and practicing) the pitch, rewatching every Shark Tank episode, prepping for potential questions, it was a deep dive in all things Shark Tank. (All while I was exclusively pumping because my baby was never able to latch, so breastfeeding never ended up working, and trying to continue my recovery.) My daughter Avni got lots of early exposure to entrepreneurship watching MANY Shark Tank episodes with me as I prepped :)
As the day got closer, my nerves were at an all time high. The team had prepared a 40 page document for the taping. I’d practiced my pitch too many times to count, worked out the numbers we were asking for, and anticipated what seemed like a thousand questions from each Shark. In fact, I had practiced the whole opening “Hi Sharks, my name is Amrita Saigal….” so many times that the morning before my pitch, instead of greeting my mother with “Hi Mom,” I actually said “Hi Shark.” There’s a good chance Avni’s first phrase is going to be “Hi Sharks.” Will report back if that happens. :)
Then, a few days before the actual pitch, they told us that Gwyneth Paltrow was going to be the guest Shark. It’s a good thing we make diapers. Because we all lost our 💩. With Gwyneth’s penchant for natural materials, we KNEW Gwyneth and Kudos would be the perfect match.
On the day of filming, my dad dropped me off at the studio at 4:30am. I felt like a kid going to school, possibly because my dad was so cute and had packed me a sandwich and snacks. I waited in the green room until about 2 pm.
Then I went in and pitched. You can watch the final negotiation here thank goodness because it felt like a blur… The Sharks totally vibed with the plastic bag reference! They were impressed with Kudos tech and engineering! They LOVED the cotton lining and our dedication to sustainability. And then…
The Earth may have actually stopped spinning because both Gwyneth Paltrow AND Mark Cuban were interested.
Seriously!? Holy 💩.
At the end of the day, Kudos ended up making a deal with both Mark and Gwyneth for $250,000.
So what’s next? We’re working with Mark and Gwyneth! Our goal is to make Kudos even MORE accessible by putting it into more outlets so that every baby can have a dry, happy, cotton-cushioned 🍑. Not wrapped in plastic. <3
After filming, I came home to a different kind of bottle than I was used to. I still can’t believe how fortunate we are to be in this position with such amazing backers. This is honestly a dream come true for me and my team. I raise my glass to them and our Kudos fam of testers and subscribers who’ve been behind our mission from day 1, cheers!
Edit: Few Questions I've been asked since posting this:
1. How long was the actual filming? My entire pitch to the Sharks was ~40 minutes. They asked a lot more questions, but then it got cut down to ~10min for TV.
2. Was any of the Q&A scripted? No!!
3. Did the Sharks know anything about you before you pitched? The Sharks are not given a briefing or any information beforehand. The first time they learn about you and your company is when you walk into the Tank and start the pitch.
Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org