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What D2C Brands Can Learn From Shark Tank India (2022)

Did you know that India’s startup ecosystem has seen a 3x increase in venture and private equity investments, from around $11 billion in 2020 to $36 billion in 2021? Well, it is no wonder then that Shark Tank, the Emmy award-winning business reality series about entrepreneurs pitching their ideas for investment, is now in India! 

What is Shark Tank India? 

Shark Tank India is an Indian business reality television series. The show is an Indian franchise of the popular American show, Shark Tank. Shark Tank (the American version) was based on the Japanese show Dragon’s Den, which came out in 2001 and has been produced in 30 countries since.

The show is all about entrepreneurs from different industries and walks of life pitching their business to a panel of five investors (called the ‘sharks’ in the series). The goal of the entrepreneur is to make the business presentation in a way that gets the sharks to invest in their company. 

Sounds like a great way to get funding (and fame) for your business idea right? 

Well, many Indian entrepreneurs thought so, too.The show received 62,000 applications from aspirants in India, out of which only 198 were chosen to pitch their ideas to the “sharks”. 

Who are the Sharks (aka Shark Tank India judges)? 

Sharks are self-made multi-millionaires and have a track record of success in being an entrepreneur. They make up the panel of judges that listen to the pitches made by the contenders, and decide whether they’d like to invest their own money to help build, market or mentor the contestant.  

In the season of Shark Tank India that aired on 20th December 2021, the entrepreneurs are pitching their ideas to these Shark Tank judges: 

  • Ashneer Grover (Managing Director and co-founder of BharatPe) 
  • Aman Gupta (Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of boAt) 
  • Anupam Mittal (Founder and CEO of Shaadi.com and People Group) 
  • Ghazal Alagh (Co-founder and chief of MamaEarth) 
  • Namita Thapar (Executive Director of Emcure Pharmaceuticals) 
  • Peyush Bansal (Co-founder and CEO of Lenskart) 
  • Vineeta Singh (CEO and co-founder of SUGAR Cosmetics) 

You’ve probably heard of each of these sharks or their companies before. While it may seem overwhelming to address them all together, in Shark Tank India (and also global), only five of the above seven are present in an episode. 

Now that you understand the format and the basics of the show, you may be wondering who are some of the Indian startups that have found success in the show. If you thought that technology was the only type of startup that secures funding, this list of D2C brands in India that saw success via Shark Tank India may surprise (and inspire) you.

FUN FACT: 11/13 of these brands chose to go with Shopify, vs others, as their ecommerce platform!

D2C brands making waves in Shark Tank India

1. Bummer 

Bummer is a fashion and apparel brand on Shopify that is bringing back quirkiness and comfort to the one segment that has often been ignored by fast fashion - underwear. For an industry that has been plagued by plain whites, blacks and greys, they’re bringing bold colors and prints to the forefront, keeping the material quality at the center of their production. 

The brand secured INR 75 lakhs for 7.5% equity from Namita at Shark Tank India. The founders intend on using the investments to hire more specialised resources to expand the brand to different global markets. 

bummer at shark tank india

2. Tagz Foods

A Bangalore-based startup on Shopify, Tagz foods is another food brand that is gaining popularity for its innovative, lip-smacking and fitter snacks for the GenZ. They’re bringing a healthy twist to snacks by moving away from the traditional frying and baking approach to production. 

The health potato chips brand secured a funding of INR 70 lakhs for 2.75% equity from Ashneer to expand their product further, target new markets and innovate with the flavors being offered. 

tagz foods on shark tank india

3. Heart Up My Sleeves 

Another fashion and apparel brand which is on Shopify and that is bringing innovation to the fashion world is Heart up my Sleeves. It is a brand that has brought detachable sleeves to the market with the goal of increasing the longevity of apparel, making them an ‘everyday must-have’. 

The brand received a funding of INR 25 lakhs for 30% equity from Anupam and Vineeta at Shark Tank India, and intends on using the resources towards market expansion. 

heart up my sleeves on shark tank india

4. Ariro Toys 

Ariro is a toys brand that takes a more natural approach to production and gives kids a more Montessori environment to develop in. With a zeal to offer children toys that were minimal and truly served a purpose, Ariro works with data-backed, tried and tested designs and local artisans to craft engaging toys out of wood and has their store housed on Shopify. 

The brand secured investments worth INR 50 lakhs for 10% equity from two sharks, Aman and Peyush. They intend on using the resources towards doubling their toy productions, testing new innovations and growing their market. 

ariro toys on shark tank india

5. Meatyour 

Meatyour is a brand by Egsagro Products Private Limited that sources all the eggs straight from Shree Balaji Farms, who is known as one of the biggest free range farms across India. The farms are focused on providing hens a cage-free environment for healthier eggs that are free from antibiotics.

The brand received a funding of INR 30 lakhs for 20% equity from Anupam, Aman and Peyush to expand their free farms, and provide the farmers and the hens a natural environment to thrive in. 

meatyour on shark tank india

6. Auli Lifestyle 

A beauty and cosmetics brand that is bringing Ayurveda to the forefront, Auli is focused on natural skin care products. Their range of skincare products are 100% Ayurvedic and backed by science to deliver the best of results. And they are also on the Shopify platform.

The brand secured a final deal of INR 75 lakhs for 15% equity from Namita Thapar at Shark Tank India, and plans to leverage the funding to grow their market as well as the range of natural products. 

auli lifestyle on shark tank india

7. Hammer 

Hammer is an electronics brand that provides a stylish and extraordinary range of audio and fitness devices for promoting a healthy lifestyle. The Panipat-based tech startup, which has built its store on Shopify, has served around 1.5 lakh customers in a span of just two years with a vast variety of audio and wearable accessories at smart prices. 

The tech-DTC-startup secured a funding of INR 1 crore for 40% equity from Aman at Shark Tank India. The brand’s goal is to double down on their marketing, advertising and product range to grow faster with the funding in place. 

hammer on shark tank india

8. Beyond Water 

Beyond Water is changing the way we look at water and how frequently we hydrate by making water fun. They use the highest quality ingredients that are all natural and tasty to bring different flavors to daily water consumption. 

The liquid water enhancer brand received a funding of INR 75 lakhs for 15% equity at Shark Tank India, from Namita and Aman. Their goal is to expand their functions and reach newer target markets with the product. 

beyond water on shark tank india

9. CosIQ 

CosIQ is a beauty brand that is bringing high performance skincare using effective clinical technologies with a focus on clean ingredients and minimalist formulations to the market. 

The beauty brand secured INR 50 lakhs for 25% equity from two sharks, Anupam and Vineeta for scaling their product portfolio and target market. 

cosiq on shark tank india

10. Skippi Ice Pops 

Skippi Ice Pops is India’s first food and beverage brand that sells flavored ice popsicles online, helping consumers reminisce the good old days when ice creams weren’t really a thing! 

The Hyderabad-based startup received a funding of INR 1 crore for 15% equity in the first edition of Shark Tank India. Founded by husband and wife duo, Ravi Kabra and Anuja Kabra, it is the first brand to have received investment from all the sharks in the show. 

The founders plan to use the investment to drive more innovation and introduce more refreshing flavors to the Indian market. Currently, Skippi ice pops is available in over 660 outlets in Hyderabad alone and 2,200 outlets across India. 

skippi ice pops on shark tank india

11. Beyond Snack 

Beyond Snack is a food brand on Shopify that is taking the traditional Kerala-special banana chips to households worldwide. The brand has also introduced exciting new flavours to the popular chips to appeal to more consumers, making it an even more loved snack. 

The food brand received an offer from Aman and Ashneer in Shark Tank India. They secured a final deal of INR 50 lakhs with a 2.5% equity. 

The brand plans to use the funding to further their production of banana chips the authentic way, and reach more markets.  

beyond snacks on shark tank india

12. Farda clothing 

A premium fashion and apparel brand, Farda clothing is bringing creativity to the industry with their take on streetwear. They’re combining trends with art, intricate design and culture to give each piece a unique look that makes a statement. 

Farda nailed their Shark Tank India pitch and secured a funding of INR 30 lakhs for 20% equity from Namita and Aman. The brand intends on using the secured funding to expand their target market and production. 

farda clothing on shark tank india

And a special mention to one brand that received a lot of love…

13. JhaJi Achaar 

One more food brand who are also on Shopify and made it to Shark Tank India is the JhaJi Store. It is an online pickle store that sells homemade achar using authentic, traditional recipes from Mithilanchal in North-Eastern region of Bihar. 

While the brand did not receive any deal from the sharks, the women founders have been receiving a lot of love (and even funding offers) on social media for their idea, efforts and the pitch they took to Shark Tank India. In Anupam Mittal’s words, “dil aur dimaag, sab jeet liya!”.

jhaji achaar

Is Shark Tank for you? 

We believe that every business idea deserves a stage and if you do ever get the opportunity, go for it! But making it to Shark Tank is a challenge by itself and not everyone will make it through.

Whether you get through or not, it is important to remember that shows like Shark Tank are not the end of the world. As an entrepreneur, if your idea is strong enough, you can reach out to other sources of funding.

Let us also remind you, you don’t need funding to start selling. 10 out of the 19 D2C brands that got funded on Shark Tank so far were already selling their product, and chose to go with Shopify, as their ecommerce platform! 

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If that wasn't enough of a takeaway, here are more business lessons that we learnt watching Shark Tank India.

Business lessons to take away from Shark Tank India 

Shark Tank has been a source of inspiration and learning for many to-be and existing entrepreneurs across the globe. While each one’s learnings from the contender pitches and episodes may look different, read on for a few business lessons we’d find as common themes across the ones who find success (on the show and off).

1. You have 10 seconds (to capture attention)

When you’re dealing with a shark, your first 10 seconds are your make or break. How you articulate your business and the value you bring to the market during these few seconds is a good indicator of how well your brand will hold in a fast-moving market. 

This doesn’t just hold true for business ideas. The same logic applies to how you take your products and services to the market as well. If your marketing and advertising campaigns aren’t able to entice a consumer in the first few seconds, you have as good as lost the sale! 

This Shopify learning resource can help you create engaging ads that hold your audience’s attention.

2. Clarity and conviction is key

Shark Tank pushes entrepreneurs out of their comfort zones, with challenging questions. The common factor in the ones that are able to hold their ground in the face of this barrage from the sharks is the fact that these business owners have clearly defined their business, the value it brings to the table and how they plan to make it a success in a competitive market. 

A great way to do this is by identifying your unique selling proposition and using it to communicate with clarity.

3. Know your market

Innovation and creativity is great, only as long as consumers can visualise putting it to work themselves too. It’s important for businesses to evaluate what size of a problem their product/ service solves, and at the same time, what size of the market they can create for themselves. And this is where market research becomes essential.

Clothing is one of the most successful categories on Shark Tank across the globe because it is a fast-evolving industry and there’s always something to be better at. The need for clothing is consistent too, even if the nature of the need changes over time. 

The same holds true for categories such as food, alcohol and other related products. There’s always going to be a problem to solve and always a need for it! Simply put, get to know your target market and ideal customers before you even start a business. 

Some ways to get to know your market and audience include market research, and real-time audience insights.

4. Presentation matters

As a general rule in Shark Tank, we have seen how you present an idea that can make or break the deal. Presentation isn’t just about graphics and design elements. It is about how the contestant breaks down the idea so the sharks understand it’s potential. Bad presentation can pull down even the brightest of ideas.

The same lesson can be taken to marketing, advertising, sales or even when you’re setting up a storefront for your business. If your presentation is poor, you’re most likely going to lose the consumer in the first few seconds of the visit. 

To ensure that your website looks the best, you can follow these top website design trends or check out these beautifully designed ecommerce websites for inspiration. (P.S. they’re all designed on Shopify, using Shopify templates or with modifications to them)

5. Listen to (and learn from) experiences 

Sharks are brutal with their feedback on ideas because they want you to learn from their experiences. Successful entrepreneurs, whether they received a handshake deal in Shark Tank or not, always come away with valuable advice on the way forward. This only goes to say how important it is to listen and learn from what you may have missed out on when coming up with an idea. 

For example, if you’re running an online store for the last one year and see your growth has plateaued, it’s time to focus on learning. You need to reach out to your existing customers, request feedback and insights on what they expect from you next, and how you could serve them better. The more closely and openly you listen, the higher are your chances of finding opportunities to grow. 

While you’re reaching out to them for feedback, also think about using this opportunity to ask them for customer testimonials which can end up becoming one of your most valuable marketing assets too.

6. Do the math

A lot of people who step up for investments are aware of the highest amount they’d like to bring into the business. But it is also important that you do the math and calculate what the minimum investment you’d like to get is - whether you’re at Shark Tank or going for pitching to angel investors for funding. 

Take into account how much would it really take to bring your idea to life, add the possible inflation to the mix, the changing market dynamics and the resources you’d require to run the show. Also add an amount to the same that you’d like to earn while executing the idea; you too need motivation to keep going. If you’re just getting started, read up on the things you need to know about investing in your business, so you’re well-prepared.

7. Be realistic

There have been ideas at Shark Tank, wherein people pitched implanting bluetooths into humans. While it might seem like an idea driven from one of the episodes of Black Mirror, the person did pitch it with all the enthusiasm. 

But did they succeed? No. 

Think about that campaign of naming a cockroach with your loved one’s name on Valentine’s day and the instant cringe it caused. It’s the same thing! 

While following your passion and starting a business is getting easier, it is important that you also validate your business idea with a reality check. 

8. Speak your story (but don’t turn it into a pity party) 

Another aspect that successful Shark Tank contenders have in common is their approach to the business. When they are authentic and true to themselves, with a clearly defined vision and mission, they’re able to do the pitching and convincing much better than the others. 

While it is important to highlight your story and where your idea comes from, it is also important to keep in mind that you should not sound like you are using ‘pity’ as your strategy to grab attention. It may win hearts and soften how sharks respond to your idea, but it does not guarantee an investment. 

Being authentic, however, doesn’t just mean banking on your story. What will really take your brand from local to global is backing that authenticity with a strong product focus.

Whether or not you follow Shark Tank India, we hope that you are able to use these business lessons to get your entrepreneurial journey started!

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Frequently asked questions about Shark Tank India

Is there Shark Tank in India?

Yes there is! Shark Tank India airs on Sony Entertainment Television.

Has Shark Tank India started?

Yes, Shark Tank India was first aired in India in December 2021.

Who are the judges in Shark Tank India?

Here are the judges in Shark Tank India:
  • Ashneer Grover (Managing Director and co-founder of BharatPe)
  • Aman Gupta (Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of boAt)
  • Anupam Mittal (Founder and CEO of Shaadi.com and People Group)
  • Ghazal Alagh (Co-founder and chief of MamaEarth)
  • Namita Thapar (Executive Director of Emcure Pharmaceuticals)
  • Peyush Bansal (Co-founder and CEO of Lenskart)
  • Vineeta Singh (CEO and co-founder of SUGAR Cosmetics)
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