Appearing on ABC’s hit business reality show Shark Tank with 6 million viewers pretty much guarantees overnight success for entrepreneurs. The elite group of business owners, selected from tens of thousands every year, become sought-after experts in their niche. In Season 7, only 104 made it on air out of 40,000 applicants. Serial entrepreneur Elizabeth Moskow, who appeared in a February 2015 episode, has united 77 Shark Tank alumni in her new venture — Tank Talkers — in hopes paying their good fortune forward.
“I’m an ideator, a doer and a “make-sh*t-happener” who follows my ideas and passions to success,” Moskow said.
Launched in May 2016, Tank Talkers serves as a speakers bureau of Shark Tank alumni available for speaking engagements, corporate team building seminars and conferences. The entrepreneurs, aka Tank Talkers, are available to share their vast experience in all business areas such as how to position your brand, compete with big brands for shelf space and expand overseas. Speakers include CEOs of the some of the most successful businesses in Shark Tank history: Tracey Noonan of Wicked Good Cupcakes, Lani Lazzari of Simple Sugars and Dr. Steven Nakisher of Talbott Teas.
Noonan and daughter Dani cut a deal with O’Leary Ventures founder Kevin O’Leary in an April 2013 episode that gave him a 45-cent royalty in perpetuity for a $75,000 investment. He made back his money in only six weeks. Lazarri, age 18, created an all-natural skincare brand because of her sensitive skin’s tendency to get eczema breakouts. Lazzari received a $100,000 investment from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for 33% of Simple Sugars in a March 2013 episode. Her sales blasted from $44,000 to $6 million, reported Success magazine. The Pittsburgh, Penn. personal care brand sells at more than 700 outlets and internationally. Nakisher is one of O’Leary’s must successful Shark Tank deals ever. Mr. Wonderful invested $250,000 for 35% of the gourmet tea company in February 2012. Shortly after Jamba Juice (NASDAQ: JMBA) bought Talbott for an undisclosed amount.
Moscow and her partner Abby Schwalb pitched their 1970s inspired lip balm — Balm Chicky Balm Balm — in Season 6. Unlike other stick lip balms, Balm Chicky had a patented “friend end,” letting users share their lip balm without the risk of spreading germs. Moscow and Schwalb left the tank empty handed but enjoyed overnight success nonetheless.
After Shark Tank, the the product was sold in Target (TGT), Whole Foods Markets (WFM), Wegman’s Grocery Stores and other retailers. Sales hit $250,000 in 2015 — nearly 15 times as much as the prior five years combined. They closed the business this year, opting instead to license their patent and let other companies sell the product under their brand name.
Moskow explains why she created Tank Talkers, the value she hopes to provide and much more.
Ho: Tell me about Tank Talkers. What key features distinguish it? Sell it to me.
Moskow: There is no more powerful a voice than that of the entrepreneur. Not surprisingly, many of the entrepreneurs who appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank not only have a passion for speaking of their vast experiences, but also “paying it forward” to fellow entrepreneurs. TankTalkers.com was born as a platform for doing just that.
We’ve compiled the best speakers across business segments, area of expertise, and even age group. Some of our talkers have had tremendous success, others colossal failure and yet each has a treasure trove of knowledge to offer and share with the business community.
Each Tank Talker brings his/her own unique perspective of the entrepreneur’s journey to the stage. The Tank Talker website sorts speakers by topic and by business category. It also highlights our Talker Teams, groups of Tank Talkers that speak together and share varying perspectives on the same topic delivering a multi-faceted and well-rounded presentation for any conference, meeting or special event.
Tank Talkers Versus Other Speaking Bureaus
Ho: What customer problem does it solve?
Moskow: There are tons of speakers bureaus out there, many touting CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, celebrity entrepreneurs and motivational speaking gurus. But they don’t weave a full story like Tanktalkers.com can. While we have our share of successful business minds on board, we also curate, mix, and match the members of our group to provide not only recognizable names in business, but riveting and engaging content about all things entrepreneurial.
We’ve spoken with many conference organizers who have relayed horror stories about paying many thousands of dollars for a speaker, only to have him/her show up unprepared, have their own agenda for talking, or completely wander off topic. What makes Tank Talkers different is the true ability to curate content specifically for the target audience because our Tank Talkers all know and work with each other.
Ho: How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Moskow: Hundreds of Shark Tank alumni have connected through social media channels after appearing on the show. We provide an enormous level of support to each other daily via the web. I quickly came to realize the collective power of this group through participation with them via Facebook (FB) and wanted to figure out a way to galvanize us together for continued success.
Ho: What made you think it could be a successful product?
Moskow: Every member of Tank Talkers has the grit, drive and tenacity to get themselves on national TV and to start up. These businessmen, women and even children are all “tank tested” and were hand selected by producers of ABC TV’s Shark Tank out of thousands of other entrepreneurs. From that select group, the best of the best were chosen for inclusion into Tank Talkers.
Ho: What hardships did you encounter in developing and launching your product?
Moskow: Not many, Tank Talkers has come together seamlessly, which speaks volumes for the mutual respect we have for each other. Every member brings with them a passion for business and for sharing their stories, tips and advice with others.
Ho: What sacrifices, if any, did you make to start your business?
Moskow: The decision to start and spearhead yet another business is often daunting. Many entrepreneurs including myself who follow their ideas into action, sometimes experience a bout of “Do you really want to do this?”
Because I’ve already owned three of my own businesses, I know the time, energy and commitment it takes to make another venture successful. Overcoming my own hesitancies is usually the hardest part, sacrificing my own time and energy. At this point in my career, I do however know a good idea when I land on one, Tank Talkers is a great.
Talking Business Strategy
Ho: What’s your business model?
Moskow: Tank Talkers charges clients for content curation and also receives a percentage of the fees paid to the speakers for each booking. We then own a growing library of entrepreneurial content to share with the business world online.
Ho: How much does it cost to book a Shark Tank entrepreneur to speak at an event?
Moskow: Costs vary by a number of different factors: number of talkers on the panel, location, availability and more. There is a tiered pricing model in place that is speaker dependent. A portion of the fees includes a content curation piece that happens as we work in tandem with meeting and conference planners to deliver exactly what they need for their event. There’s obviously a lot of work done in advance to ensure the best possible Tank Talk.
Ho: What are your goals for your business over the next year and five years?
Moskow: Tank Talkers aims to gain a presence within the business conference segment, become a player in the industry and give our Tank Talkers opportunities to deliver and hone their entrepreneurial messages.
Longer term, Tank Talkers aims to become the go-to speaker’s bureau and a top producer of content for conferences, meetings and online for business-minded audiences. We also strive to help our entrepreneurs become recognized experts and leaders in their respective industries and provide them with speaking opportunities that will help them ]to succeed in doing so.
Ho: What is your sales and marketing strategy?
Moskow: To actively engage with both large conference organizers and enterprise meeting planners. By providing relevant and riveting content already curated for them, we’re solving some of the problems they experience on a day-to-day basis when booking talent.
Given our varied backgrounds, networking and capitalizing on the popularity of Shark Tank will help to spread the word and gain us bookings. We plan on partnering with entrepreneurial focused print and online media outlets to promote our speakers, topics and entrepreneurialism in general.
Ho: Is there anything else I should have asked?