What I Learned from Shark Tank: Jan 31, 2014

Having a great product trumps a clear marketing plan

For most companies that enter the Shark Tank, if there's not a clear marketing or go to market strategy, they get torn apart. This last week was different, however, as two companies received investments without a clearly defined path, although their companies have shown decent growth thus far.

The Cookie Dough Cafe

Let me start by saying that these guys seemed to have an incredible product. My mouth was watering just watching the Sharks eat the cookie dough. It's a brilliant idea and I'm surprised it hasn't taken off faster than it has.

Yes, they've conquered production (on a small scale). Yes, the number of stores their product is featured in continues to grow. Yet they didn't have a clear idea of how they would continue that growth. Some of the Sharks saw this and backed out, citing that it was too early, but Lori saw through that to the awesome potential the product had. To her, it didn't matter that there wasn't a clear plan. The product itself (and presumably the team) was good enough for her to invest in.

Cycloramic

I had seen this app a month or so ago on some blog and thought it was awesome. They hacked the vibration function on the iPhone to allow it to spin the phone on a flat surface in a full 360. They had the product developed, a patent granted, and decent sales for its first year. Again, however, they had to plans on what to do with it next. Right now it's just an app, so what happens when everyone that wants it has downloaded it - growth will plunder.

Again, this wasn't an issue for any of the Sharks. They all saw the potential (perhaps because of the sales to date) and wanted a piece. I think the guy made the right call going with Mark, although I'm not quite sure why he wanted Lori as part of the deal.

The Real World

Yes, having a great product can help cast a shadow on lack of focus, slow growth, or an incompetent team, but only in the eyes of those with discretionary income or who need to make an entertaining TV show.

Having a great product/idea is just the first step. After that, in the real world, you need a solid team, a clear vision, and a go to market plan. In some of these cases, I'm afraid, Shark Tank is making it all look easier than it is.