Swimming in the Shark Tank 🦈

Carina Linhares
August 11, 2022

Business has taken off after Shark Tank's pilot episode

Get ready — it's time for this week's rundown of the My Biggest Lessons podcast! Chris Meade was joined by Tiffany Krumins, inventor of Ava the Elephant and founder of 'Opu Probiotics, on the pod to chat about how she grew and sold her first business, and the lessons that she'll be taking with her into the future. Check out the full episode below! ⤵


If you asked Tiffany Krumins 13 years ago if she thought she'd be a successful inventor and business owner, she probably wouldn't believe you.

But, that's exactly what happened. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Tiffany was a caregiver for kids with special needs — a fulfilling job that she loved, though at times it would present some unique challenges. With one of the kids she cared for in particular, medication time was always tricky, as the child had anxiety around taking their medication. Tiffany brainstormed ideas on how she could make taking medicine easier for the child, and a brilliant invention was born: Ava the Elephant.

When Ava the Elephant worked so well to calm the child's anxiety during medication time, Tiffany thought, "This could work for kids everywhere." Coincidentally, Shark Tank was doing a casting call for their pilot episode during this time. Tiffany decided to take a chance on her invention, bringing 5 homemade prototypes with no patents, sales, or anything else, to present to the Sharks, and landed an investment deal with Barbara Corcoran.

With a strong bond over life experiences, and Barbara's investment, Ava the Elephant became a largely successful product despite its niche market and slim profit margins. 

Tiffany's huge success with Ava the Elephant led to eventually selling the brand, taking the lessons she learned and venturing into a new business. Wondering what these lessons are and how they shaped her business today? Keep on reading! ⤵


Squeaky clean margins 🧼

When it comes to starting a business and selling a new product, one main indicator of success is profit margins. For Tiffany and her first product, Ava the Elephant, the market was niche with very small margins, and would have been nearly impossible to bring to market and be successful without the help of Shark Tank and Barbara Corcoran's investment.

Taking this lesson into her newest business venture, Tiffany looks for 70% gross margin in new products and markets. If margins were any lower, it would be a struggle for her, or any new business, to not only produce a product, but market and fulfill it as well. 


Getting the word out 📣

While paid and performance marketing are important tools in growing a new business, Tiffany has found that good ol' grassroots marketing and networking have worked really well for 'Opu so far.

Through friends that are influencers, appearing on local news stations, and just word of mouth, Tiffany has seen her revenue double every month in the 4 months since launching 'Opu, without putting any money into marketing.

Maintaining a strong network is essential to marketing your brand organically, and was a huge help for Tiffany with 'Opu. Through the network that she's maintained since Shark Tank, Tiffany leveraged her relationships with TV execs and other important industry people, to open up future marketing opportunities on television that will be paired with paid performance marketing to boost brand awareness.


Gotta think long term 🧐

Just like last week's guest Adam Reed, Tiffany knows the importance of slow growth and taking your time when you enter the ecommerce world. With her newest brand 'Opu, Tiffany has had many opportunities through television to make deals to sell a large quantity of her product for a fraction of the price, which is not a direction she's currently interested in. Finding a customer base that will stick with your brand is important, and something Tiffany strives for in a customer base — people who are truly invested in the product and will continue purchasing for years to come.

Taking things slow and thinking about your long term goals is essential for longevity. When choosing a manufacturer to work with as a new business, oftentimes they'll require you to order an enormous amount of inventory upfront, and leave you with too much product that you can't sell. Tiffany's advice? Find a manufacturer that is willing to grow with you at the right pace so that you don't end up with 15k units of product in your garage that you can't sell. 

Feelin’ passionate 🥰

Tiffany's biggest lesson throughout the 13 years since her Shark Tank appearance is that you need to be extremely passionate about what you're doing and the product you're selling. Approaching a product or business idea that you don't care about, with your eyes only on the potential money to be earned, is a recipe for failure.

After inventing Ava the Elephant, Tiffany found herself battling cancer. It became very clear to her while she was in the hospital working on her product that if she wasn't passionate about helping children, she would have dropped the product and gave it up. Hitting wall after wall is to be expected with a new business, and without passion for what you're doing, getting past those walls is nearly impossible.

Want to learn more about ecommerce growth through the personal trials and obstacles of industry professionals? Subscribe to the My Biggest Lessons podcast on YouTube, Spotify, and wherever else you listen to podcasts.