From Princeton Dorm Rooms to Thriving in the Shark Tank
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Things here at Thrive+ have definitely been hectic since getting word we’d be featured on Shark Tank this Sunday, Feb 25th. Since being told that we’d been selected for this once in a lifetime opportunity a couple weeks ago, all our attention has been focused on making sure we’re prepared. Between scrambling to get enough inventory in on time, moving our fulfillment center in to a new warehouse, making sure there was no chance our website would crash, and about a million other things; we haven’t had time to breathe, let alone properly celebrate the good fortune we’ve been continually blessed with. Celebration can wait though; this sort of exciting chaotic growth is what we’ve grown used to. These past nine months, our road to Shark Tank, have been filled with new challenges, new lessons and, thanks to our amazing customers, new milestones week after week.
Princeton’s eLab Summer Accelerator
Everything was lined up perfectly going in to this summer. We had just received our first funding from an angel investor, college was officially behind us, and we were starting the intensive Princeton ELab entrepreneurial accelerator program for the second year in a row. Thrive+ was no longer just a labor of love to be worked on after classes and on the weekends; it could now finally be our (often more than) full-time job, and we were ready to scale up as rapidly as possible.
The summer could not have gone better. We grew more than 20x over the course of the 10 week ELab program. At one point, about a third of the way through, we made our first attempt at hitting a $2,000 sales day. We ended up completely overshooting our goal and hitting $3,000 instead! All the while, we were making invaluable connections with the help of the program, including two Princeton professors who we officially signed on to our advisory board before the summer was over.
With eLab finished, we made the big decision to move down to Houston, our hometown, to set up Thrive+ HQ. While we couldn’t wait to finally be moving home, we had a devastating surprise in store. The first weekend after we moved in to our new apartment complex and co-working space, Hurricane Harvey hit.
Our apartment became an island literally overnight. As we watched the waters rise, inch by inch, we were terrified of what this would do to our company. We knew that shutting down operations because of this disaster would serve to erase weeks of progress we had made. However, by some miracle, our power and internet stayed on through the night, as well as the weeks following.
The community effort we saw through the two weeks in which we were stranded was amazing. As the only dry land in a horribly flooded neighborhood, our apartment complex became a place of refuge for those who had waited too long to leave. We all worked together to make sure the complex was safe, well stocked, and available to anyone who needed our help. At one point, we even spent a day surrounding the apartment transformer with sandbags to make sure the ever-increasing water levels wouldn’t threaten our outpost.
The Day It Began
Just days after we’d finally been able to drive off the property, we got word that we’d been selected to film for Shark Tank in just a couple weeks. While this was far from a guarantee that we’d actually be featured on the show, the application we’d sent in months prior was one of thousands. In those weeks leading up to the filming, the pitch was practiced every second that we weren’t working, until we were certain that nothing could go wrong.
The Calm Before the Storm
Things went back to normal soon after filming with the Sharks, and the next couple months were a brief but welcome reprieve. While still uncertain of when or if we’d actually be featured, the possibility of Shark Tank loomed on the horizon, and we knew that with January would come the cheapest ad prices of the year.
We laid low through the Holidays, letting the big spenders slug it out for the relatively small prize of Black Friday and such. Instead, we prepared for what was to come; we intended to catch them sleeping. During this time, we made sure we were ready for another rapid period of growth. We started work on getting another round of funding, we scouted out an extra manufacturer to make sure our supply line was rock solid, and we made sure we could get enough product at moment’s notice to deal with the incredible demand that could come from Shark Tank.
Great sales, but no Shark Tank?
January hit, and just as we’d been told, ad prices plummeted. Our sales tripled over the course of a few days. We had to push our manufacturer to get the product we’d reserved for Shark Tank to us early, lest we run out. We scrambled to get our fulfillment team in to their own warehouse, rather than the suburban house they had been working out of before, just so they could have a place to keep it all.
As this was happening, the season of Shark Tank moved along week by week. With only a few episodes left in the season, we went in to February with the silent acceptance that our pitch would not make it to air, but the growth of the past month made sure we were not lacking hope or confidence for the future of our company.
The Shark Tank Announcement
Three weeks ago, today we received an email. We had made it on the second to last episode of the season of Shark Tank. Thousands of hours of work over the past months had led to this, and we now had three weeks to prepare for the biggest night of the company’s history, and our lives.
Our journey to this point has been unforgettable, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store. Without those cheering us along, and especially our loyal customers, this wouldn’t have been possible. So thank you, from all of us on the Thrive+ team, for allowing us to work every day on building this company that we care so much about. We look forward to serving you in the years to come.
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