For those who don’t know, Shark Tank is the ultimate business-reality TV show that is broadcasted on ABC-TV on Friday nights. For those “tank junkies”, like my wife and me, thankfully, it is replayed nightly (or so it seems) on my favorite network, CNBC, the business channel for Cable TV. Entrepreneurs, or even individuals with products pitch their businesses to the super-rich “rags to riches” multi-millionaires and billionaire Sharks (and Sharkettes), who compete with one another for a deal.
Great ideas. Terrific drama. Incredible audience.
The program has been so successful, it has spun off an epilogue, “Beyond the Tank”. That new weekly program, takes us behind the scenes to see what a few of the former contestants are now doing after achieving Shark Tank fame and incredible national exposure. Certainly not all contestants make a deal, and the sequel revisits the businesses and the fates of some of those who succeeded (and some who failed) getting the investments of the likes of Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban or from Lori Grenier, the Queen of QBC.
Now, back to Lisa Lloyd.
Ms. Lloyd appeared on Shark Tank promoting her enchanting fluffy utility-toy, TC Pets, which was part play-animal and the other part, a hidden container for rings and other small items. She ended getting a deal from branding expert, and inspiration, Daymond John, who has his own incredible story of achieving wealth beyond his imagination. What makes Lloyd special, however, is the fact that she is now one of the very few contestants, so far, who have been featured on the Beyond the Shark Tank series, now in its second season.
Oh, and she now lives right here in New Orleans, is very involved with the booming entrepreneur community, and has just launched a new product which idea was spawned from the frivolities of Mardi Gras. Her new product has worldwide potential opportunities and is sold internationally.
A few weeks ago, after learning about her life-experience, after watching her Beyond the Shark Tank episode, it wouldn’t take much of a pitch to convince me to do a short online video interview. I did so yesterday.
She is somewhat of a serial entrepreneur. Her very first product came from her work in the military. Since women would often put their long hair-do’s up, away from their faces, she created a product, called, French Twist. According to Lloyd, "That probably went on to do about $20 million".
From that experience, she established a business to invent a license, “not just to invent, manufacture and sell products”, she said. Essentially, she would help people with the process of inventing, patenting and licensing products to various companies. She said she essentially helps others by “licensing your patent rights”
The young businesswoman, now with hands-on experience, “went to do that eight more times” and her products have cumulatively achieved over $30 million in sales now for 23 years.
The self-made woman said, “At the height, I was earning about $300,000 a year without getting out of bed”.
Which now gets us back to Shark Tank.
Lloyd redesigned a container product and repurposed it as a toy, keeping it as a container for jewelry and other items, "but having a feel and look of a plush toy". Those adorable “fluffies” were sold under the name TC Pets or Treasure Chest Pets.
She initially started with three designs and ultimately had about 70 different products ready to be rolled out. This was the product she took to the Shark Tank.
Ultimately the licensing expert got her toys into about 400 stores. Unfortunately, she wasn't an expert in manufacturing and distribution. Worse, she became just another victim who suddenly saw the American Dream turn into sleepless nights and troubled days, the Great Recession, which started in 2008.
There were the issues with customs and with the magnets she used in the toys. Textiles prices increased, so did freight. Shipping and transporting via Fed Ex and UPS became too costly, due to the increased prices in oil. Costs soared by about 700%, just in one year.
"I couldn't recover from some of things I didn't know had it not been for all of the margins being eaten up by the cost continuing to skyrocket”.
The hostile feeding frenzy of diminished markets and hungry creditors were fast-closing in. Her own shark, Daymond kept giving advice, she really didn’t want to hear—“don’t throw good money after bad money”.
The final blow for TC toys came from the ultimate predator found in business-troubled waters. A competitor. She sadly and reluctantly shut down her “pet toy” enterprise.
She later said in the interview, that she jokingly likes to tell people that she went to the School of Hard Knocks. As she and many other entrepreneurs who taste success and then failure, soon discover-- success, after losing, often rings too--if you persist and keep doors open.
Lisa Lloyd, from Shark Tank and Beyond to Masque Rage rave