The founder of an Australian fashion-technology company discovered its Shark Tank segment had been cut from the reality television show just one week before the episode was due to air.
Kristy Chong is the chief executive and founder of Modibodi, a tech-based underwear company for women that aims to tackle issues such as light bladder leakage.
Chong’s pitch was scheduled to appear on the episode of Shark Tank that was broadcast on Sunday, 22 May, but Chong was told it had not made the cut.
“We were told that 20 percent of filmed segments don’t actually air, but we believe that number is closer to 50 percent,” Chong told SmartCompany.
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Chong says her pitch to the sharks went well, maybe even a bit too well.
“They told me they thought I could do it on my own, and I didn’t get caught out on any questions so it wasn’t attractive to air,” Chong says.
“My asking price was also quite high.”
Chong declined to reveal the amount of investment she asked the sharks for or the valuation of her business.
Missing out on the exposure that comes with appearing on a national television program is disappointing, Chong says, but with other investors already on board she’s not too worried.
“I had an investor that came on board before the episode was filmed,” Chong said.
“This is the way that’s right for the business, and I’ll be looking for future investment down the road.”
Modibodi’s garments use a patented modifier technology, which moves moisture away from the body to the garment’s middle layer. This allows wearers to remain comfortable through situations such as breast milk leakage or excessive sweating, and it also reduces odours.
Chong launched Modibodi in 2013 through an e-commerce model, which she says was best model for the product.
“It was the best way to start selling because we could do it on a smaller scale and spend time growing the brand,” Chong says.
“We found social media to be very cost effective early on.”
Modibodi’s says her business has increased twenty-fold from January 2015 to January 2016.
“We’ve grown a lot just from word-of-mouth and social media,” Chong says.
“Modibodi’s had month-on-month growth, and this month is the best so far.”
Chong has also won a number of awards, including the Women’s Weekly 2016 Women in Business Highly Commended award, and she says the recognition is “absolutely important for building brand and customer trust”.
Moving on from her dip in the Shark Tank, Chong is focused on Modibodi’s expansion plans.
“We’re going to start wholesaling this year, and also produce more video content,” Chong says.
“Expanding our customer base is also a priority, and we’re hoping to expand into the US.”
Chong believes fashtech (fashion technology) is yet to gain a foothold in Australia, but the market is gaining traction.
“Australia’s always a few years behind the US, but people are catching on,” she says.
For other businesses starting out seeking investment, Chong says it is essential to put yourself out there.
“You need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Chong says.
“Also don’t just put all your marketing budget into one medium, play around and see what works.”