We’re celebrating National Hot Dog Month and the dog days of summer with tales of franks and pets.
Although Sharks (as in Shark Tank) don’t count as pets, Julie Busha’s Slawsa is the perfect healthy accompaniment to hog dogs and much more.
When Julie Busha answered a Shark Tank casting call, she knew she had a unique product, Busha built her brand Slawsa in 2011, a cabbage-based coleslaw and salsa hybrid made to pair with meats on the grill, sandwiches, chips and more. Slawsa is marketed as healthy. It’s all natural, fat-, cholesterol- and gluten-free, kosher, low in sodium and high in vitamin C.
And her business had strong beginnings. Expected revenue at the time was $500K. She already had a full staff and in fewer than two years, and she scored shelf space at thousands of grocery stores in the U.S. and Canada from big names like Walmart and Kroger. The ask was $150K for 15% of the company…and didn’t land a deal.
Here are Busha’s takeaways from her time in the Tank.
“Never let someone else’s inability to see your value determine your worth.”
Busha says that while the Sharks didn’t get a deal, this didn’t stop her from taking Slawsa to the next level, seeking new investors and partnerships to grow her business. And she still gained high praise from all the Sharks.
Investors Sometimes Shy Away From Food Businesses
When Forbes asked why she thought investors didn’t bite, Busha said that “there’s a lot of risk in food” and grocery store products have a slow ROI. “They like high margin businesses to get their investment back almost immediately.”
And while a “hands-off” investor has its benefits, choosing a valuable investor beyond the pocket book, with industry savvy and an eye for key players, can lead to partnerships with other companies that offer value within, says Busha.
Fiscal Responsibility is Key
Busha was a first generation college student, her business is 100% women-owned and she bootstrapped her business launch. “While I did not get a deal, I received high praise from all of the Sharks, especially Mark Cuban, who complimented my extreme fiscal responsibility to not only launch the business but to buy out a former partner in the early stages.”
Slawsa found its way to stadium concession stands, many restaurants, caterers, food trucks and other venues — not to mention her online store, which includes recipes and more stories of Busha’s success.
Want to read more about Shark Tank pitches that succeeded without a deal? Check out this article.