Update: Everlywell Founder and CEO Julia Cheek made a deal with Lori Greiner, one of the sharks on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” which was broadcast Sunday evening. The deal gives Everlywell a $1 million line of credit with an 8 percent interest rate and it gives Greiner a 5 percent equity stake in the startup.
— Shark Tank (@ABCSharkTank) November 27, 2017
Below is our original story about how Cheek prepared for the taping of the show a few months ago.
If you’ve watched a few episodes of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” you’re probably aware most of the pitches are for consumer packaged goods. And they’re often a new iteration on an existing product of some kind.
That’s what makes EverlyWell‘s forthcoming appearance on the show particularly interesting.
The Austin startup offers a variety of at-home medical tests that rely on a blood spot or saliva samples to give insights about a consumer’s genetic markers. It ranges from fertility to food sensitivity to Vitamin D tests. At-home genetic tests are a relatively new thing for the mass consumer market, and one that the average American consumer probably isn’t very familiar with. On top of that, the company has a complex supply chain that’s not exactly the kind of pop TV producers usually want.
That made preparing for a prime time show even more nerve-wracking for EverlyWell Founder and CEO Julia Cheek.
“We spent a ton of time thinking about how to communicate our pitch in a way that’s attention-grabbing for consumers,” she told me. “And we had to make it interesting for the sharks and the audience.”
Cheek can’t discuss many details about the actual show taping because of “Shark Tank’s” contracts. That means we’ll have to wait to know what kind of investment she was asking for and how it turned out.
But she was able to share the arduous process that led to the studio taping a few months ago.
Cheek said just applying is a big decision. The application took about 20 hours to fill out, and it forces founders to demonstrate they’re a credible business and not just trying to get a PR bump to boost interest and sales.
“You have to be realistic about the probability of getting on the show, which is extremely low,” she said.
Once EverlyWell cleared that hurdle, it was time to craft a pitch and work with “Shark Tank” producers on perfecting an angle that would give sharks and the audience enough digestible information without getting into the weeds of at-home medical tests.
“…you want to do a good job pitching the company. You get one shot to tell it.” – Julia Cheek
Cheek said that going in she was interested in a potential deal with any of the sharks. But she said that Mark Cuban and Lori Greinermost have the consumer and retail experience she was looking for in an investor.
Cheek had never been on TV before — at least not something as widely known and broadcast as “Shark Tank.” She is a former multiple World Champion equestrian and has pitched EverlyWell on big stages, including in front of about 30,000 people at TechCrunch Battlefield last year.
But being on “Shark Tank” stands apart.
“I think being recorded on a camera is a totally different level,” Cheek said. “And, frankly, there’s a lot of pressure I put on myself… you’re presenting the brand and you want to do a good job pitching the company. You get one shot to tell it.”
Then, you don’t even know for sure whether your segment will air. Months passed, and Cheek couldn’t talk about her experience with anyone. Finally, she got the go-ahead when producers scheduled her segment for Nov. 26.
The timing, in and of itself, is big. Their segment is set to air on the eve of Cyber Monday. That’s one of the biggest shopping days of the year for most companies, including EverlyWell. The company, which has 17 employees, is now working at breakneck pace to prepare for the traditional sales boost companies get after being on such a widely viewed show.
And, while she couldn’t talk about the final result, she said just knowing her company has made it this far on the journey is rewarding.
“It’s been so much work, it’s really affirming that we get to at least see that to fruition,” she said.
Other Austin Companies that Have Been on Shark Tank
EverlyWell is the latest of several Austin startups to be featured on “Shark Tank.”
Others include (follow links to prior coverage): Monkey Mats, PrideBites, BeeSweet Lemonade, PopUp Play, Wondercide, Beatbox Beverages, Beardbrand, Besomebody, Grace and Lace, How Do You Roll? and Grease Monkey Wipes.
EverlyWell’s segment is slated to run on Sunday, Nov. 26, at 8 p.m. CST.