How Nashville-based startup Havenlock made it on to Shark Tank

A few weeks ago, Nashville-based Havenlock had the opportunity to pitch their business on ABC’s TV series Shark Tank. During the pitch, the team had something unexpected happen, and they were able to turn it into a positive outcome that can only be credited to thinking on their feet–quite literally. You can see Havenlock’s pitch here. 

 

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I caught up with Clay Banks via email after the dust settled a bit and asked him for a few tips for fellow entrepreneurs in the area looking for similar opportunities. He offered some insight into both Havenlock, and insight for those looking to follow a similar path.

 

1. How did you get on Shark Tank? What is the best way to prepare for it? What was the most rewarding part? Is it really affecting your sales? (Just tell us what you can tell us).

Just like starting a business, you have to take the first step. SharkTank started with Alex driving to Chicago in May of 2018 for an open casting call that lasted three minutes. From there we were selected to continue through many rounds of cuts and practice pitches. I can say that with every request the producers made leading up to the filming, we over delivered and well before their deadlines. We took each task as if the company was pitching a global strategic partner. We prepared for 6 months prior to the actual pitch. We rehearsed many nights here in Nashville and again at Alison’s house in LA the day before. We watched enough prior episodes and knew every question they would ask. We even had a google doc we shared to fine tune our answers to assumed questions. I think if you go back and watch the episode, we did a really good job knowing our numbers and business model. That is critical.   

The most rewarding part about SharkTank was seeing the rest of our team come together and focus on a single mission of getting on the show. We were more interested in getting exposure than a deal. While a deal would have been nice, the exposure has now led us to new opportunities and that was our primary objective. The pre-filming process was very difficult and everyone else on the team (not on the show) pitched in to support Alex and I along the way.

Sales are definitely up on our website. Home Depot, Amazon, Terminix and our other re-sellers are also increasing over average months. The traffic and exposure is proving to be more beneficial with new strategic investors and distributors coming forward. Opportunities we hadn’t thought of before are now presenting themselves. The school portion of the SharkTank airing came on stronger than we had imagined. Hundreds of schools have contacted us asking for quotes and product demonstrations.  

2. On your partnership with Terminix- how did that come about and how long have you been working to close a partnership deal like that? I saw something on Alex’s Linkedin- is Havenlock essentially white-labeled with Terminix’s branding? Do they offer it as a service with their other home services?

The Terminix conversation started a few weeks before we filmed for SharkTank.  Around August 2018. Terminix was a big part of our SharkTank pitch that never made it in the final airing.  Their tag line is “ Defender of Home.” They are growing and looking for other products they can sell that align with their brand and help increase conversion for their other services. They also didn’t have an existing security platform and we fill that void.  

3. Since that partnership, have you gotten any follow up or feedback from any of the Sharks yet? If you could add anything to your updated pitch to them, what would you say?

We haven’t received any feedback or follow up directly from any Shark as of now. Daymond’s tweet was very encourage though. We ended up coming back to Nashville and just closed a $1.2M over-subscribed Series A. This round was with 15 new investors at much better terms than what we had proposed on SharkTank back in September. We also have a full pipeline of new strategic partners looking to get involved. Looking back to being on stage, our company has more than tripled revenue from that time and that doesn’t account for the new business from the airing this week. Our pitch today would certainly be better.  

We knew the cap table economics was a long shot for the Sharks.  At that time, we had 18 investors and a team that we had to stand up for.  
Reflecting back, at that time: I would have pushed for a contingency offer with Lori on the school portion. I thought we were close with Daymond and we really wanted a deal with him, but he’s right. The investment needs to be a win -win.  And in that case, it would have been a loss for us. I have more respect for him acknowledging that than you can imagine. We have worked too hard for someone to come in and take it.  

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