Funding

Shark Tank recap: Why a shark’s name was more important than a shark’s money for Charli Chair founder Meray Yassa

Kirsten Robb /

Meray Yassa says the $200,000 investment from real estate titan John McGrath she and her husband Hani scored on last night’s episode of Shark Tank was more about the man behind the money than the money itself.

The Yassas pitched their baby showering highchair Charli Chair, asking for $200,000 for 5% equity in the business.

The product, which Meray Yassa designed after experiencing back pain following the birth of her third child, lets parents wash their children standing up in the shower.

After the Yassas were grilled on their $4 million valuation, their profit numbers and the relationship with their third party manufacturer, real estate entrepreneur John McGrath was the only shark to put his hand up, although his offer was far from the original deal.

“The amount wasn’t what we were after,” Yassa told SmartCompany, admitting she had gone into the Shark Tank with a plan not to give up more than 25% of her business.

“But we needed guidance and a mentor and that’s what we got with John. We came out with nothing but we secured a great mentor.”

McGrath said he recognised the growing trend in the property market to abandon bathtubs in favour of space-saving showers and he could see a massive opportunity for the product.

But instead of 5% equity, McGrath offered the Yassas a $200,000 investment, to match the money they already invested in the product, consisting of $100,000 for a 50% stake and a further $100,000 loan.

“You don’t have the business acumen and experience,” McGrath told the couple.

“I’d like to be your business partner and then you could have 50% of something that could be worth millions.”

But despite the hard deal, the couple reluctantly accepted.

“We really didn’t want to give too much of our business away,” Yassa says.

“But having John on board, we’re so excited, his name on its own will open so many doors.”

Yassa says McGrath’s expertise in the property industry will help the couple fulfil their dream of having a Charli Chair in every home.

“We were excited when he picked up on that, he really is a genius,” she says.

Yassa, who describes the whole Shark Tank experience as “heart wrenching”, says the money will go towards a full international patent of the product and a small amount of marketing.

Her pitching advice to other entrepreneurs is to know your product and your numbers inside out.

She says the Charli Chair, which is named after her daughter who was too heavy to be bathed in a regular bathtub, is like a fourth child to the Yassas.

Shark Tank was like standing up to talk about our child, so thank god they didn’t have any criticism of the product,” she laughs.

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Kirsten Robb

Kirsten Robb is a former journalist at SmartCompany. Previously, she worked at News Corp as a property reporter for Leader Newspapers and the Herald Sun, and holds a Masters of Journalism at Melbourne University.

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