Luring the sharks: Hyderabad-based startups rocking Shark Tank
With season one of Shark Tank India winning hearts, investors and customers, start-ups from Hyderabad, who have had their fair share of fame on the show, share their experience
The Indian business reality TV series, the first season of which was aired from December 20, 2021 to February 4, 2022 on Sony Entertainment Television India, has got people of all ages hooked to their screens. It has inspired entrepreneurs to think big. Shreya Veronica compiles experiences of Hyderabad start-ups that made it to the sets of the show
‘We feel like mini-celebrities’
Ravi & Anuja Kabra (Skippi Ice Pops)
Banjara Hills-based Skippi Premium Ice Pops is India’s first ice-pops brand. Ravi Kabra, co-founder and CEO; and Anuja Kabra co-founder and COO; share that to produce high-quality products that are clean, green and healthy, they worked towards bringing down the intake of artificial flavours and colours to zero. Sharing their experience about how they ended up being on the show, they say.
“We applied for Shark Tank in early August last year and there were about four-five rounds that we had to go through before we could be finalised for the shoot in Mumbai. Once we were on the sets, things changed for us. It was pretty exciting and terrifying at the same time — because a lot of start-ups walked away dejected. From the 66,000 applications that came in, 187 got short-listed and only 60 of us got funded. So, the success rate was only 0.1 per cent.”
They were the first brand on Shark Tank India to have achieved investment from all the five sharks on the panel. Ravi says, “In fact, Peyush Bansal (the founder-CEO of Lenskart), who wasn’t on the panel, decided to invest in us after a few days. Today, Skippi Ice Pops is manufactured and distributed across every outlet in liquid format. People no longer need to have a freezer to sell or store these. We sell our ice-pops in liquid form, people can buy them, freeze and enjoy.”
He says that they feel like mini-celebrities. “Whenever we walk into a restaurant, are at any public place or even at our office, people walk up to us and want to click pictures with us. We have achieved something phenomenal, I’d like to believe so.”
A game-changing experience
Ishmail Badri & Tasneem (Guardian Gears)
Ishmail Badri and his wife Tasneem, founders of the bike accessory start-up Guardian Gears in Secunderabad, share that merely featuring on the show has turned out to be a game-changing experience for them. “I have been watching Shark Tank USA since its first season. Last year, when I heard the show was coming to India, I decided to register. During the first lockdown, I saw a contestant on Shark Tank Australia making an entry on his Royal Enfield. I dreamt of doing the same. I registered in February, in August we got a call for the audition and shot in November. The experience was amazing and it was a learning curve for us,” Ishmail tells CE.
He adds that Vineeta Singh, the founder and CEO of Sugar Cosmetics, was his favourite shark. “Aman (Aman Gupta, co-founder and marketing director of headset company Boat) was great too. After the show got aired, our phones wouldn’t stop ringing. We had people from abroad calling us up about our products. Within just days, the tables have turned — earlier it was us who would call people up and now it’s the other way round,” he says.
Featuring on such a big platform has come as a great source of validation for Guardian Gears. “When getting into the show, we never expected any of this. Of over 62,000 applicants, 800-1,000 companies were called for auditions and some 150 were featured on the show,” Ishmail says.
Seeking investment of Rs 5
CoCoFit made the most humble impression on the show. Seeking an investment of only Rs 5 from each shark, its founders left no stone unturned to make their time on the show worthwhile. Shashi Kanth, the founder, introduces us to his business. “Simply put, coconut meets fitness here. We make and sell close to 135 products that are made of coconut and its by-products. From coolers and slushes to shakes and ice creams, we have them all.”
On how they landed on the show, he shares, “When we came across a notification of Shark Tank India, we applied for it and got to know that we were selected during the initial screening. We then got through phase-two and finally the audition. We were already doing brisk business, and now, Shark Tank has helped us get more investors. Rather than getting into negotiations, we decided to give it away for free. It was like us buying three sharks. Based on the traction we received, we had close to 2,800 franchise requests, that’s huge!”