Still recovering from the latest athletics championships and fitness exhibition, I decided to call it a day at 2pm, not to go home and rest, but to prep for possibly the biggest audition of my life.
By 6am, I was required to be at the BBC studios to film a live episode of Dragons’ Den. Due to my busy schedule, I always seemed to be playing catch up, that week had been no exception. Driving back from a German fitness expo, chasing up potential ShakeSphere leads, managing day-to-day tasks, work seemed never-ending, but in a good way, I loved to be on the go. Being an athlete went hand-in-hand with a fast-paced workload. I hadn’t yet realised the clarity and focus required to grow a business and relied upon ‘graft’ and 2- hour hustling, which fortunately, I was used to from my intense athletics training.
It was 2.30pm when I got home and thought there had been an earthquake. Why were all our belongings strewn across the floor? How did all the drawers open? Why is the window broken? After realising we had been burgled, I raced upstairs to check the cash was still there from the exhibition. Panicking, ShakeSphere was in its infancy and few thousand Euros was our survival for the foreseeable future! Luckily, it was still there wrapped in a triathlon suit in a bottom draw. With my heart rate back to normal, my fiancé and I sorted the house out until midnight.
6am soon arrived and I was at the BBC with a ring binder of relevant documents to attempt to learn prior to my pitch, unfortunately for me, life never turns out quite as you expect it. Within an hour of arrival, I had been into makeup, done my bio statement, and was now being ushered in front of four of the UK’s most influential business people, along with the millions of a home audience that would get to watch this in a few months’ time. Fight or flight mode! I walked out there, nervous, confident, excited, anxious – a real mixed bag of feelings. I clearly remember after 30 seconds, stumbling over a few words, then just taking a few moments to quickly clear my mind, re-focus and establish the message I was trying to get across.
Here was the problem I presented:
I had been using supplement shaker bottles for the last 10 years, I couldn’t believe how messy they were. It was apparent that the shaker bottle industry was happy to churn out the same problematic, square cornered supplement shaker bottle with a flip cap. Mixing balls and grids were the industry standard to break down the powder/liquid-based mixtures within a poorly designed structure. The cleaning process was traumatic, protein was lost in the corners, money was wasted, smell was expected. The common flip cap, can easily pop open in your sports bag, encourage powder to stick, drip on you in the open position, or my all-time favourite, being poked in the eye when drinking.
Here is the ShakeSphere solution I presented:
ShakeSphere relies upon its shape to mix using two opposing half hemispheres to continually drive the mixture around the internal structure, which is essentially a capsule shape. Unincumbered by corners, the centrifugal force and inertia sends the mixture around the capsule shape making it a smooth, creamy drinkable beverage in a flash. As nothing gets stuck anywhere, ShakeSphere also has the ability to puree soft fruits with just 30 seconds of shaking. The internal shape makes cleaning a five-second breeze, ready to use again. Also, using a slide opening cap to drink from, all the aforementioned problems were resolved.
Clarity is a key point when demonstrating your business to any interested party, be it a face-to-face demonstration, a phone call, or an online marketing pitch. After 2 hours 15 minutes of intense grilling (that went on to be edited to 15 minutes), I successfully secured the investment required to expand.
ShakeSphere was now able to pay tooling costs for the latest designed ShakeSphere Tumbler, with budget to bring it to market. You can make £75,000 go a long way when you are used to stretching £2,000 or £3,000.
Problem solving is the first key step in realising your product or service offering. Post Dragons’ Den, we focused on premium matte and metallic finishes on the premium plastics, as well as steels, which added desirability to the ShakeSphere functionality.
Advice for other entrepreneurs on getting your product to market:
Getting to market is the exciting part but also can be very disheartening. Hang in there! When bringing a product to market, it’s a numbers game. Speak to as many of the right people as possible. Get brokers and agents to help where possible.
We focused on selling volumes to quicky to assist with cashflow. We had not been paid for six months. We recognised that to build a consumer brand takes time, where a large retailer or distributor can quickly get you to market with volume orders. We focused on USA retailers, assisted by commission-based brokers. We supported the retailers with the best possible product shots, videos, images, POS and POP. It worked well and we secured a 550-store rollout in the USA.
We have moved on to become established in over 20 countries and won eight awards. We did this by attending global exhibitions, numerous hours of digging around on LinkedIn to find key buyers. As we have expanded, it has been key to outsource to specific skilled workers within that field.
Powered by the internet’s global resources, we have some of the best individuals working on key areas of the business for us. We have now split time equally between trade and consumer-led retail focus. By enabling automated retail opportunities globally, we have been able to become further established as a global player. Instead of having to continually bang on doors, we now get enquiries every day from retailers, distributors and supplement brands looking to utilise the innovation of ShakeSphere.
ShakeSphere social media handles
Watch the Dragons’ Den pitch: