Shark Tank: The Aftermath
Pluto Pillow vs 5 Sharks
Pluto's Shark Tank experience
Our episode just aired on Friday, May 14! We’ll tell you how it went, along with some bits that didn’t make it into the episode.
Since the pitch, 9 months ago, we've grown our business considerably. Teaming up with amazing investors along the way to help us become a household name. We aren’t getting off this crazy ride!
(Missed how we got here? Read about it here.)
We’re on stage and we don’t know what to do with our hands
The double doors opened, and we walked up on stage to begin our pitch. It was honestly something of a blur. The bright studio lights, fielding questions and the flying camera man made the entire process zip by.
We sought a $400,000 investment for a 5 percent equity stake in our company. We set the valuation of Pluto at $8 million. With this investment and a shark’s expertise, we would scale Pluto and offer new products you would love.
The initial reaction after our pitch was mixed. Our valuation was high, and the sharks generally don’t like that. Second, something not covered in the episode, we already had other investors, and that’s like trying to serve a real shark a spring salad. Third, there was a concern of scaling—how we’d be able increase our production volume while also increasing margins.
None of these concerns couldn’t be overcome with the right founders, and the sharks felt we were those founders. They loved how we got to where we are today more than what we are today. Since we started Pluto in 2018, it’s been largely run by just the two of us—taking orders, assembling pillows, shipping them, customer support, media outreach, everything. Our team has expanded since to a happy team of seven largely due to how much you love our product, and the sharks had confidence in us to take Pluto to the next level.
“It’s not about the mistakes you’re making. It’s about my confidence in your ability to overcome them. And you sold me on that,” said Robert Herjavec. To hear that from such a great Robert was awesome.
So here we are, little pillow-making anchovies surrounded by extremely well-dressed sharks. Early on, most of the sharks swam away, uninterested in making any proposition.
Lori Greiner (aka the Queen of QVC) was out early, citing concerns with the competitive nature of the pillow industry. She had also previously invested in other pillow companies so it wasn't a good fit here.
Kevin O’ Leary (aka Mr. Wonderful) really liked us, but didn’t like the valuation and the amount of capital we were seeking. He was out.
Daniel Lubetzky (founder of KIND bars) loved pillows as a consumer, but not necessarily as an investor, so he was out too. He did let us know that his son loved the pillow he got though!
Mark Cuban understood our product the best, but felt we weren’t at a level that he wanted us to be, so he was out. If you look closely into our eyes in the episode, you will see tears welling up as we come to terms with the fact that we will not be getting a signed Luka Doncic jersey.
It looked like the negotiations would end before they even began.
Robert, who was perhaps the least interested in our company and product before the pitch, saw our potential after it. He offered the capital we were seeking, $400,000, but for a 20 percent equity stake, which is four times the amount of what we were offering. We knew going in that our proposal was aggressive, and we weren’t surprised at a just-as-aggressive counter.
We mulled about it and made a bunch of faces. If you haven’t watched the episode, we hope you do. There are some facial expressions there that we never knew we had, and may never have again.
We countered at nine percent, but Herjavec wasn’t interested.
We thought about it some more and after a dozen camera cuts, we declined.
Then, Cuban (who was much more effusive than what the episode shows #ReleaseTheCubanCut) told us the following in what we can only describe as messianic in tone: “You don’t need it. Don’t take it. Just go.”
And so we didn’t leave with our tail between our legs, but with an energy that we’re going to put right back into Pluto.
While we couldn’t get a deal done, we felt confident when presenting to the sharks and we still feel confident with Pluto moving forward. It was a dream come true to talk about our company to such great business people and veterans of commerce, and to get our idea and product in front of a national audience. Plus, they really believed in us as people, and that’s about as good as any offer we would’ve taken. Personally, we think this was one of the best outcomes we could’ve asked for.
As Cuban says, we’re just going to go. Thanks to all of you for getting us to where we are now. We’ll make good on it!