Leslie Haywood entered the Shark Tank in Season 1 and struck a deal with Robert for her grilling accessories. Her Grill Charms can be added to meat products before they hit the grill to distinguish such things as temperature and flavor for your guests.
As her company goes Beyond the Tank on January 28, she spoke candidly to us about her decision to license her product out to a manufacturer and gave advice to future contestants of the reality show.
What Happened After ‘Shark Tank’
In the short term, of course sales increased tremendously. This made me realize and come to terms with the fact that maybe what I thought success meant to me, wasn’t really accurate. I did some soul searching and came to the conclusion that success was not something that could be bought, sold or made. To me, it was the health and happiness of my family. I then made the very difficult decision to license my product Grill Charms to a large kitchen product manufacturer. Grill Charms deserved more then I was willing to give. Shark Tank made me realize that at this time, building a grilling gadget empire wasn’t for me. I’ve heard of many women especially that can do it all and have it all. I’m not the one. And I’m finally okay with admitting it. Not to worry though, once the kids are grown and I’m at a different stage of my life… I’ll be back.
If you remember way back to Season 1, all the Sharks but one wanted in on Grill Charms. One of the main reasons I went with Robert in the first place was because he said he believed in me. For the first few years after the show, I kicked butt and needed very little from him. I would call, text and email every once in a while to check in and he’d do the same, but as far as running the business, that was all me. I do know that if I ever needed anything, I could call him.
Advice for Those Trying to Get Into the ‘Tank’
Be the best you, you have ever been. In the first early stages of trying to get on the show have an interesting story, be as dynamic as you can, and sell yourself, not so much the product or the business. The Sharks will never see any of it until you get there, so you are selling yourself to the producers of a TV show. There needs to be a reason why people would want to watch you and your story. And if you can’t find anything about you, your product or your business that is fascinating, inspiring, exciting or touching, then TV isn’t your shtick. It doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, it just means you need to build your business the old fashioned way, before reality TV!
Advice for Those Who Get the Call From the ‘Tank’
People who are unbelievably fortunate enough to get ‘the call’ to go out to LA and participate in the possibility of being on the show, here is my advice and key to your happiness- low expectations. If you are an inventor or entrepreneur, by nature you are already overly optimistic and a little naive because if you knew how hard it really was when you had your very first idea for your business, many of you (myself included) maybe wouldn’t have ever started! Ignorance is bliss. So, I already know you think you are going to fly out there and have everyone fight over you, you’ll be a star and you’ll be a gazillionaire before the sun rises. This is the wrong attitude. Just the fact that you got a call is amazing and you have beaten the odds. Now embrace each and every step of the way with gratitude and appreciation. Even if you get out there and you never get your chance to walk out onto that Oriental rug. You made it farther than thousands and thousands of other entrepreneurs. If you get out there and the Sharks think your product sucks, embrace it for what it is, an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience that so few people get to have. I’ve talked with so many people who have been in various stages of the process and the ones that are happiest are the ones that realized nothing is guaranteed and every step, every outcome and every experience is an opportunity. You are owed nothing in this world and as in life; this experience is what you make of it. Soak it in and learn something.