A gut feeling and a snap decision led to a $250,000 deal for an entrepreneur on last night’s episode of Shark Tank.
Entrepreneur Caroline Africh comes from a background in IT project management, but after becoming a mum she saw a business opportunity aimed at mums looking to work out of home. The result? Baby good distribution business Things 4 Bubs.
Having run the business successfully with over $1 million in revenue for two years, Africh knew she had to find external investment and mentorship to keep growing her venture, so she applied for Shark Tank in the hopes of luring one of the prominent investors on board.
Things 4 Bubs is a wholesaling distribution business where stay-at-home mothers buy baby goods from Africh — who imports them — at wholesale prices. They then on sell the products at local markets or parents groups, earning similar margins to those of a retail store.
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Diving into the tank last night, Africh was seeking a $250,000 investment from a shark for 25% of her business, valuing it at $1 million — a valuation backed up by Things 4 Bubs revenue and 100% year-on-year growth.
It didn’t take long for the sharks to get interested, with the five finding great joy in one of Africh’s products — a small electronic device called the Baby Shusher that emits a soothing ‘shhhh’ noise to help lull infants to sleep.
“Would that work on Glen?” shark Janine Allis quipped.
Three sharks circle the deal
But the sharks quickly got down to business, quizzing Africh about her business processes and her desired outcomes as a result of investment, with the entrepreneur wanting to take her business model global and enlisting new baby goods brands to sell through Things 4 Bubs.
Sharks Glen Richards and Allis were first to tap out, both expressing their appreciation for Africh’s business but taking investment proposals off the table. For Allis, she took issue in Africh’s consulting model, likening it to selling Tupperware earlier in the episode.
Speaking to SmartCompany, Africh said she understood Allis’ point of view, considering her bricks-and-mortar food retail background with Boost Juice.
“I understand that Janine was pro-retail and that our model was something a little different, so it’s totally fair she wasn’t prepared to invest,” Africh says.
However, three sharks were keen, with Andrew Banks and Naomi Simson both offering a $250,000 investment for 30% equity, but they refused to go in on the deal together.
Steve Baxter also got on board, offering $250,000 for 20% of the business, but with conditions of a three-times payback within three years, at which point he would fall to a 5% equity stake, “technically” valuing the business at $5 million.
Staring down the barrel at three separate offers from the sharks, Africh says it came down to a gut decision, plus a desire for mentorship above all else.
“It was really hard because they’re all amazing people. Steve said he was just going to have money and high-level mentorship with less emotional involvement, and I wanted more than just the money,” she says.
“I wanted someone to believe in me, but making the decision between Naomi and Andrew on the spot was really hard. My gut said Andrew because he’s a very high-level strategic business thinker, so I went with him.”
Deal to be finalised after episode
The deal is still in due diligence, but Africh believes it might be sured up after the episode airs. She says Banks told her the deals typically don’t get finalised until after the episode goes live.
However, Banks and his team have already helped the founder establish a business plan — something she had never had prior — and help her execute on her strategy and vision for Things 4 Bubs.
“I’ve got a three-year detailed plan on how to hit all my milestones. It’s always been in my head, but now that there’s an investor on board he can see what I’m thinking,” she says.
Africh’s future goals still involve getting more suppliers involved with the business; she’s heading off to China next week to attend a trade event and start building relationships with other manufacturers in the country.
“It’s been a few months waiting for this to happen, but I’m so excited about the whole thing. It’s been a fantastic experience,” she says.