Benita Chacko and Namah Chawla

Beyond investments, does Shark Tank double up as an advertising medium for its pitchers?

The pitchers have witnessed a spike in sales and website traffic after appearing on the business reality show.

~ VS Mani & Co. witnessed 10x growth in sales and became the bestselling coffee on Amazon, on the day it featured in a ‘Shark Tank India’ episode.

~ Despite not securing any funding, Recode Studios expects to earn an extra Rs 5 crore after its appearance.

~ The business reality show transformed the fate of Flatheads - from running into huge losses, the sustainable footwear brand’s inventory was sold out overnight.

~ The revenues of Skippi Ice Pops that appeared in the first season, grew 40 times after appearing on ‘Shark Tank’.

~ Get-A-Whey, another ice cream brand, also experienced 10x increase in revenues as soon as the episode featuring it, aired last season.

These are just a few examples of how ‘Shark Tank’ has impacted its participants beyond just their investment needs. The show offers startups an incredible marketing opportunity. They present their products and their journeys on a time slot on Sony TV as well as its OTT counterpart Sony LIV.

Sony Pictures Networks India’s platform also gives these brands a global reach, which is difficult to get through any other form of advertising.

Ravi and Anuja Kabra, Skippi Ice Pops’ co-founders
Ravi and Anuja Kabra, Skippi Ice Pops’ co-founders

Ravi Kabra, Skippi Ice Pops’ co-founder, says, “The platform acts as a marketing tool for startups that don’t have the budget to come on national TV for a 15-minute slot. Our brand got exposure in India and among the NRI community across the world. We are now exporting to eight countries and this was possible only because of the exposure we got through ‘Shark Tank’.”

GD Prasad
GD Prasad

GD Prasad, co-founder of VS Mani & Co., who worked at Dentsu earlier, opines, “Technically, it is a 15-minute ad spot at zero cost. On the day our episode went on air, we did an experiment. We turned off our ads and yet, the traffic on our website doubled.”

The way a pitch is planned, how the props look, the way the founders/co-founders talk about their product and present it to the ‘Sharks’ (judges) - everything is important. Whether a brand gets a deal or not, the show is being watched by millions of people, who are looking to determine whether it’s worth trying.

“That’s why our outfit, the ‘davara’ tumbler in which we served the coffee and the background music, were all crucial aspects of the pitch. We spent 3-4 hours figuring out the right track to play for our entry. We planned everything and this is where our advertising experience helped,” adds Prasad.  

Shark Tank’s elevator pitch versus an ad spot

The benefits that the participating brands garner from their ‘Shark Tank’ appearance, are incomparable to a regular ad spot, even if it airs during a GEC’s prime time show. 

“We wouldn’t do a 15-seconds TVC at all, and it is not because of the cost,” asserts Prasad. “The audiences try a product if the recommendation comes from a credible voice. The same results can’t be achieved by using celebrities or even making a film.” 

VS Mani & Co pitching to the Sharks
VS Mani & Co pitching to the Sharks

‘Shark Tank’ has established itself as a credible space for opinions. It features ‘Sharks’ - when they appreciate a product, viewers tend to like it and trust is generated. 

Are these success metrics momentary?

Kushal Sanghvi
Kushal Sanghvi

A critical aspect of any overnight success is to know whether it sustains itself over a long period of time. Kushal Sanghvi, head - India and SEA, CitrusAd, and media content specialist points out that while the show has a shelf life of about three months, the memory of Indian audiences is not too sharp.

“Most people don’t even remember all the participants of Shark Tank’s first season,” shares Sanghvi.

What happened with Ganesh Balakrishnan, co-founder of Flatheads, proves that there is a correlation with empathy. But whether this sentiment remains intact after six months, only time can tell, Sanghvi adds.

“This emotional sentiment may cascade and fizzle out as larger events happen, which will divert the audience’s attention. And, people eventually tend to move on.”

However, if one is to go by Get-A-Whey’s journey, it appears that brands tend to enjoy this trust and credibility for a long period of time. 

Jash and Pashmi Shah
Jash and Pashmi Shah

According to Pashmi Shah, Get-A-Whey’s co-founder and CMO, ‘Shark Tank’ appearance made the brand to realise that it is important to reach the smaller cities as well. Today, the dessert brand is present in over 45 cities. 

Shah says that the ‘Shark Tank’ effect didn’t last just for a day or two, as people still recognise the brand as ‘Shark Tank wali ice cream’. 

“The impact is still there, even after almost a year. The brand’s website experienced 10x increase in revenues as soon as the episode aired. Once the brand started expanding into different cities, the contributions of food delivery aggregators (Swiggy/Zomato) and quick commerce marketplaces also rose significantly.”

Jash Shah, Get-A-Whey’s co-founder and CEO, adds, “While there was a significant spike in numbers just after our episode aired, what most brands fail to understand is that these moments are only for a particular time and start dipping as soon as the audience becomes complacent. Hence, building on this momentum becomes extremely essential for the brands appearing on the show.” 

Prasad of VS Mani & Co. believes that it totally depends on the brand to be able to sustain this. “‘Shark Tank’ should be seen as the main asset and we need to plan the PR around it. We decided to use this mileage and offer our customers a 50% discount on the day the episode aired, as people were flocking to our website.”

From the day the episode aired, until now, VS Mani & Co. has been seeing a lot of social media conversations. Some of these conversations are also driving traffic to its website. 

The dark side of limelight

Skippi Ice Pops won an 'All-Sharks Deal'
Skippi Ice Pops won an 'All-Sharks Deal'

All the brands that appear on the show share their financial details with the ‘Sharks’ on TV. This information is important for the judges to make the right investment decisions. However, sensitive information like gross profit, EBITDA and cash flow, becomes public in the process. This may give the brand’s rivals inside information.

Apart from that, Kabra of Skippi Ice Pops mentions, “The show also raises consumer expectations. It could be in terms of quality, taste, logistics and supply chain. For example, they expect that like the products on Amazon, it should be delivered within a day. We are still a startup. So, such expectations become a challenge.”

Have news to share? Write to us