Stay humble: In the tank, things were very intense and my character was personally questioned. Because it was so intense, I could have easily gotten defensive. Instead I just took the heat. Your job in the tank is to be a great ambassador for your business and not necessarily the alpha character that is trying to make good TV.
As a part of my series about the ‘5 Important Business Lessons I Learned While Being On The Shark Tank’ I had the pleasure of interviewing Tate Stock.
Tate Stock is the founder and CEO of Chirp, a company that has helped over one million people live better through simple and effective pain relief solutions. Tate started Chirp in a barn with 400 dollars in sewer pipe, grew it to a multimillion-dollar enterprise, and recently made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for 2020. He is a registered boat captain and enjoys sailing, scuba diving, and skiing.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit of the backstory about how you grew up?
I grew up farming and learned how to work hard from my dad and mom. I always thought work was fun so that is a bit strange for most people, but that has helped me get through any challenge. Most problems in life can be worked through if you put your head down and focus. Growing up really taught me that.
Can you share with us the story of the “aha moment” that gave you the idea to start your company?
With a semester left in college, I found a roller type of product at my aunt’s house, but I had a really hard time finding it online. I went out and bought 400 dollars in sewer pipe and 50 dollars in yoga mat, built the original wheels and threw them up on Amazon and sold 12k dollars worth in the first 2 weeks. Bingo! So me and the small team of interns I managed to convince to work for me focused on selling to the yoga market for the first year and a half, what the product was originally intended for.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
The most interesting thing that has happened is our now 60%+ female workforce. I am not really sure how it happened, but we have always just hired for talent, and I am so proud that we have a diversified team. The different perspectives we get really help the company grow.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
Every time I leave on vacation, there is something that goes wrong. A few years ago, I went sailing in Thailand and 3 days into the trip I got a call from our warehouse manager letting me know the warehouse was on fire! I was in the middle of the ocean halfway around the world when back home a production crew of 60 people were building 10k wheels a day and the warehouse was on fire! Luckily it was more the warehouse next to ours that was on fire, and we had minimal damage. Other close calls while I was out of town were someone dropped an entire 12” diameter pipe from the forklift onto their mom’s car, someone hit the gas line with a forklift, and the internet or power seems to get shut off at the office every time I leave. I have learned to have key people around that I trust. They take urgent problems and get them solved. And these days, I don’t even hear about most of it.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes! We are working on several incredible pain relief products that customers are going to love. Instead of selling a bunch of gimmicky plastic products that pile up in a living room basket, we are investing a lot more resources back into new, innovative solutions for pain relief. The first one coming out is a muscle relax cream called Relieviate™ that has 9 essential oils. We created it with the goal of being the fastest-acting and longest-lasting muscle cream on the market.
Ok, thank you for all that. Let’s now move to the main part of our interview. Many of us have no idea about the backend process of how to apply and get accepted to be on the Shark Tank. Can you tell us the story about how you applied and got accepted. What “hoops” did you have to go through to get there? How did it feel to be accepted?
Earlier in the spring, Shark Tank actually reached out to me and asked if I would apply for the show. I had applied before a couple of times, but they get so many applicants, the normal route of applying and waiting for an answer from them is an uphill battle. Them reaching out to me did not mean that we had a free ticket though. I went through the entire application process, and I was treated like any other contestant. It took hours and hours of commitment from me and our team. And there was never a promise of being on the show. When Chirp was accepted to go film, it was extremely exciting! All the time it took to get to that point was worth it . . . but they do always remind you that filming doesn’t mean airing, so when we found out our air date, that was the most exciting for me and the team.
I’m sure the actual presentation was pretty nerve wracking. What did you do to calm and steel yourself to do such a great job on the show?
Before we went to present in front of the Sharks, I watched a bunch of The Greatest Showman. You can count on Hugh Jackman to pump you up.
So what was the outcome of your Shark Tank pitch. Were you pleased with the outcome?
We ended up with a deal from Lori, 900k dollars for 2.5%, and we would pay her back after 18 months. We were very excited, as we were looking more for a partnership than for the money.
What are your “5 Important Business Lessons I Learned While Being On The Shark Tank”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Put in the time: I spent so many hours prepping for Shark Tank without the guarantee that it would pay off. But if something could be worth it, do it.
- Stay humble: In the tank, things were very intense and my character was personally questioned. Because it was so intense, I could have easily gotten defensive. Instead I just took the heat. Your job in the tank is to be a great ambassador for your business and not necessarily the alpha character that is trying to make good TV.
- Reach out to others: Within a few days of the first episode of the season airing, I was on the phone with one of the companies that aired and learned A TON of things we should do to prepare for our episode airing. It really helped our team be ready for the tidal wave of customers from the show.
- Think differently: After the filming, I sent all 5 Sharks and 5 of the producers on the show a letter with a few questions to learn about their success. They have never gotten something like that. I just said, I know you don’t have time to go out to lunch, but here are a few things I would like to learn from you . . . and then I listed a few questions and included a return envelope so they could send it back.
- Be ready for the heat: I made sure that all of my answers were very accurate and I was as real as possible. We came into Shark Tank with the largest company valuation, but also the largest amount of sales. I knew they were going to grill me for that, but I think I was ready for it.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive and avoid burnout?
Focus on the strengths and not the weaknesses of team members. You hire someone for the good that they can do for your customers. Everyone has weaknesses, and if that is what you focus on in others, you are wasting your time and energy.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would like to inspire a movement of giving. I am still running a few companies and growing, but I do my best to give back whenever I can. I love to give people 50 dollars in the parking lot of the grocery store, or recently we created a Chirp Team Bonus Share program, where team members get a quarterly bonus for just being on the team.
We all need to do better at giving beyond our means, not living beyond our means.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Paddle a canoe, even if your dad owns a ship.” You’ve got what it takes to do something great. Don’t get too caught in the wake of someone else’s success.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would love to spend a morning with Richard Branson. He is the ultimate example of doing a lot with a little and being more of an Adventure Capitalist than a Venture Capitalist. I aspire to that.