Despite appearing on last night’s episode of Shark Tank, Indi Sutton — New South Wales entrepreneur and owner of The Monday Food Company — had no plans to watch the segment. Instead, she headed off to yoga to unwind on Tuesday night.
And with her healthy food business “powering ahead” since the episode was filmed late last year, a bit of time to unwind is well deserved for the Byron Bay based businesswoman.
Pitching to the sharks, Sutton sought a $300,000 investment for 25% of The Monday Food Company, which manufactures and sells organic, gluten free and paleo granola. The pitch valued the business at $1.2 million.
Speaking to SmartCompany, Sutton says she was in “complete shock” when entering the tank and barely remembers the experience, having not slept for the three nights prior to the pitch.
“We had two of our ovens break the day before the pitch, and I was working super long hours without a day off in months,” Sutton says.
“Also, I was staying at my sister’s place, and she snores.”
Although she believes she could have done a lot better in the pitch, Sutton’s presentation had all the sharks looking for bites. But one by one, all bar investor Glen Richards dropped out, citing issues with the business’ valuation and profitability.
Richards, who was impressed by the success of Sutton’s business so far and the flavour of the granola, floated an offer of $100,000 for 40% of the business, plus a $200,000 loan.
“I definitely overvalued the business, but it was on purpose. I knew they would talk me down so I wanted a fairer playing field,” Sutton says.
“I did overestimate it a bit, but I did it on purpose. It was fair enough that Glen went under it.”
Working 80 hour weeks and desperate to get someone on board to help with the business, Sutton accepted Richards’ deal. The deal has since passed due diligence and Sutton says working with the investor has been fantastic.
“Glen is a really lovely human being, he’s a genuinely nice man and that’s really important to me. He also has a lot of business sense that I don’t really have. I’m really hands on and creative, but I’m useless at the technical stuff,” she says.
“I wanted some help with logistics, and if I didn’t get Glen on board I would have had to go into a lot of debt, and it would have put me in a much more stressful situation.
“I need to have someone to feed off, and have a bit of reassurance I’m not doing it on my own.”
Sutton revealed in the tank she has struggled with dyslexia throughout the course of running her business, relying on her sister to help with the paperwork-heavy side of the business. Since filming, she’s taken on a personal assistant to help with the books and says her experience with dyslexia has been both a blessing and a curse.
“It’s been frustrating at times, not being able to read documents and understand them, it doesn’t make life or business easy,” she says.
“On the other hand, if I wasn’t dyslexic I wouldn’t be able to cook as well as I can. I could never really understand recipes, so I just learnt how to put flavours together.”
Some of the sharks told Sutton what she needed was a business partner, not an investor, but Sutton disagrees. She says being able to bring on someone to take care of the spreadsheets and forms that come with running a business means she can focus on her strengths.
“Now I can stay doing the things I’m good at, and I can get someone else to do all the things I’m not good at,” she says.
Sutton’s original goal was never to be “just a granola brand” and The Monday Food Company has since expanded across five different product ranges, including gut health products and kids food. Sutton says she is also focused on growing her personal brand, having started a blog and making plans to launch a cookbook.
The company has also expanded into Dubai, a choice of which Sutton says was due to the preponderance of wealth in the country, as her products have a high sale price due to the process and health-focused ingredients.
Sutton is content with how the business is continuing to grow but warns other aspiring entrepreneurs that building a business too fast can put it at risk of folding.
“Keep your job for the first year and just put some of your wage in and build it slowly. Be prepared to not have a life for a while — it’s hard work,” she says.
“You’re not going to be a millionaire in a year. Be prepared to not make any money for a long time.”
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