Kiersten Hathcock, CEO of Mod Mom Furniture, proved that success can be achieved even without a check from the sharks. She appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2011 with her homemade toy boxes, seeking money for manufacturing costs. Shark Robert Herjavec felt that the business was still "starting out," but he saw potential and offered her a deal.
Normally, the story would end there. But Hathcock told CNBC.com that after the show aired, the deal didn't go through.
"In January of 2011, after discussions with Robert, he made it clear Mod Mom was still a bit too small," she said in an email.
Luckily, an angel investor saw her episode and offered a deal that she said was even better, allowing her to "expand in ways we never thought possible."
CNBC.com caught up with Hathcock to see what it's like to be on "Shark Tank." She also spilled some secrets and went into detail about what happened after the show aired.
What is the initial effect on your business from being on "Shark Tank?"
The initial impact was phenomenal from a PR standpoint. Truly, there is no way our little company could have afforded a TV ad during primetime programming, which is essentially what we received for braving the tank. After airing, talk show appearances, speaking engagements and magazine articles followed and helped to strengthen the brand.
Since you aired in Season 2, how has "Shark Tank" continued to impact your business?
The impact has been enormous. Most folks who watch assume that everyone becomes an instant millionaire but for us, we still continued our organic growth after the deal with Robert did not go through. ... In January of 2011, after discussions with Robert, he made it clear Mod Mom was still a bit too small.
We plotted along after receiving small investment monies from friends and family in 2011 and much to my surprise, in 2012, a true angel investor entered the picture. He was watching "Shark Tank" on Hulu, saw my episode and reached out via email. We spoke on the phone a few times and worked out a deal that was better than the one I would have received from Robert and within about two weeks time, I had a check in my hand...
This investment has allowed us to expand in ways we never thought possible over the past two years. ... We're even offering soft goods now! Over the past year, we partnered with talented textile designer Samantha Cobos of Pure Inspired Home to create a collection of custom, American-made, organic soft goods/upholstered furniture as part of our upscale PureMod collaboration ... It's very clear to me that "Shark Tank" still positively impacts Mod Mom, even three years out from the initial air date.
What was it about your pitch that attracted the sharks?
Ultimately, I think the sharks saw that I had built a respected brand from my garage without furniture design experience, carpentry know-how, and seed money .... The demand for the product was there and the sharks saw potential for mass growth. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think the tool belt and heels [that she wore on the show] had anything to do with their interest in my story ...
When did you first think to yourself, "I can do this" or 'I've really done it?"
... By the time I had built the 300th toy box, I was feeling like "I really did this!" And getting orders from celebrities was icing on the cake. Going from a place where everyone was thinking I'd lost my mind in 2006 to a place where the design world was featuring my work in magazines and in international design books was surreal. It still is....
Can you give a little behind the scenes information on what happened after the show?
I'm beyond thrilled to share that we are going to be launching "Mod Mom Furniture" through a licensing partnership with Stanley Furniture Company and their iconic American furniture brand, Young America. In addition, I will be representing the Young America brand and its award-winning nursery and kids' furniture as a spokesperson who knows first hand the importance of providing safe, high-quality, US-made products for kids. ... Look for new and existing Mod Mom collections to debut through Young America later this year on our website youngamerica.com.
In addition, after Shark Tank, I founded a nonprofit organization called The Little Light Project that helps highly sensitive/intuitive children as well as grieving parents. In fact, another "Shark Tank" entrepreneur, Shelly Ehler of Show No, joined our team as VP! ... We are teaming with Young America, mental health professionals, intuitive therapists, and alternative healing specialists to help provide support and resources for kids struggling to fit into our very black and white world.
By Jill Weinberger and Liza Hughes
More bite is coming to Tuesday nights on CNBC. Get ready for "Shark Tank" on Tuesdays, 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. Learn more about Mod Mom Furniture and watch Kiersten Hathcock battle it out with the sharks Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. EST.