The Sharks Bite!-April 2012
On January 20, two local businesswomen had their turn on ABC-TV’s Friday night business reality show Shark Tank. Aspirants appear and pitch their business plan in front of several of the nation’s top entrepreneurs, including Mark Cuban and Fubu creator Daymond John. The goal is to come away from the broadcast with funding and a high-profile partner.
The business, MyWonderful Life.com, is a web-based tool that allows individuals to personalize and even pay for their funeral, wake, cremation, or celebration in advance. “Baby boomers want control of everything,” notes Sue Kruskopf, who also owns local ad agency Kruskopf Coontz. “We don’t want to go out like our parents.”
To the uninitiated, the appearance went badly. “There’s no business here,” sneered shark Robert Herjavec. Outspoken shark Kevin O’Leary told the duo their business plan “really sucks.” Rather than being on the scrap heap post-prime time, the duo’s business is in better shape than ever. “We wanted exposure,” says cofounder Nancy Bush. “We got 6.2 million viewers,” and they are hoping for reruns.
Kruskopf adds that the show has brought a 50 percent uptick in “members,” as she calls customers. “We’ve had contacts from all over. There are people who may invest with us.”
As for the Hollywood part, the Labor Day weekend spent in L.A. was “as unglamorous as it gets. You’re total cattle. All they did was make you up,” says Kruskopf. She says producers edited their 30 minutes with the sharks in a blender so that the sharks appeared to be offering responses to things the duo had actually said at a different time.
“It’s entertainment first and business second,” Kruskopf notes. But she’d do it again in an instant.