Shark Tank” in Depth: SwimZip Dives in for a Deal!

SwimZip Presentation on ABC's "Shark Tank"

Shark Tank has been a Friday night viewing tradition of mine since its premier in August, 2009. Many children’s businesses have been on the program, so it is also a favorite for our industry. Recently, Betsy Johnson and her brother Berry Wanless pitched the “Sharks” to invest in their SwimZip brand of protective designer sunwear for a $60,000 investment and a percentage of equity ownership. Here’s a link to see how SimZip landed Lori Greiner as a partner through their persuasive presentation, proof of value, drive, passion and hard work:

The SwimZip appearance on Shark Tank inspired me to introduce a new feature on The Giggle Guide® that follows up on entrepreneurs that appear on the program.

What were the steps you took to become an entrepreneur on Shark Tank?

I think having a passion for your product is what Shark Tank looks for when seeking entrepreneurs. Shark Tank wants to make sure you believe in what you are doing and that you are seeking a strategic partner. I would say that SwimZip is both – having skin cancer myself, I am on a mission to educate people on sun protection and make it easy for people. Also, I want to take my business to the next level and this is why I think Berry and I were able to get on Shark Tank.

How long was the interview process from start to filming?

It was about a 5 month process for us from start to filming, and then our episode didn’t even air for 5 more months.

Why do you think that SwimZip was chosen to be on Shark Tank?

I believe SwimZip was chosen to be on Shark Tank because we are passionate about our product. Berry and I both want to keep our kids sun safe, but as a business we want to educate people on sun safety and hopefully show why SwimZip UPF Swimwear is essential for all parents. We also are an affordable option. Lastly, SwimZip sun protective swimwear has proven success over the last three years. I think the producers could see our potential.

What were you surprised to learn about the Shark Tank experience?

How long the process was! It took a lot longer than I thought it would to be a part of Shark Tank and actually film the show. I am so thankful for our time though because we had a chance to really deep dive into our business and understand the whole business. It was a great look into what makes SwimZip a successful sun protective brand!

How long was the actual interview with the Sharks?

The interview was about two hours long for us. There was a lot edited out that I wish was in there, but we are thankful for what was shown. We believe it showed how passionate Berry and I are about the business. We prepared for our presentation by 100% understanding our business and numbers. We truly know our company’s numbers inside and out, and are so thankful we took so much time to understand it. The show producers also help a lot with making sure we are prepared.

What did you think about Daymond’s advice that “The big guys can crush you with just one set of returns. Their margins are so small”? Lori Greiner did not seem to be concerned about this opinion.

Daymond had a lot of great advice for us during the taping. He knows retail apparel inside and out. Returns are a real problem for smaller companies trying to partner with the big box stores. Lori’s position comes from her experience with these situations and her knowledge about how to structure contracts so that the returns do not destroy us. We would like to grow our business to support boutiques with a designer line at affordable prices and also look at other ways to grow our business.

Your brother Berry seemed less enthusiastic to participate and reluctant to take Lori’s deal. What were you thinking when Lori offered you a deal and then you countered her offer?

When Lori offered us a deal I was excited, but Berry was less excited because he did not want to give up too much equity in our business. He thought we can do it on our own. Starting a small business is hard, and growing it is hard too! Being an entrepreneur is tough. I’m always inspired by other entrepreneurs who are fighting the business battles day in and day out!

What happened after the show aired?

After the show aired we had a huge influx of interest in SwimZip and amazingly supportive fans! We can’t thank them enough! Berry and I still run a small business, but we are so excited to have so many new people seeing our product and also keeping kids sun safe! We hope that SwimZip can offer fun, adorable, affordable, UPF swimwear for everyone! We are expanding our ages of our lines and looking to grow!

What advice can you share with other entrepreneurs in the children’s business that are thinking about dealing with the Sharks?

Go for it! The Sharks may not have backgrounds involving children’s products, but they recognize a good business when they see it. When they see the potential to infuse an investment and make a business grow – whether it’s children’s products or something else – they are going to jump on it.

How do you think the appearance and the deal will benefit SwimZip and your experience in business?

SwimZip’s experience on ABC’s Shark Tank was absolutely wonderful. The Shark Tank staff was so supportive and the insights we gained with the Sharks, invaluable. We were on the highest rated Shark Tank to date, with over 8 million viewers! We walked away proud of our presentation. And ultimately, on air we got the deal we wanted, so it was a huge win for us. We have already seen a huge boost in interest and sales. We have the best UPF swimwear and beachwear products, but getting them in front of an audience can be difficult. Being on national television is such a crazy experience and we totally loved it!

For more information about Swim Zip visit SwimZip is also introducing Adults UPF Swimwear

Product photo credit: Child Essence Photography Chicago

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