Entrepreneur.com: How Guppy ‘Treps Fared After a Swim in the ‘Shark Tank’

ABC’s hit show Shark Tank puts entrepreneurs’ business ideas to the test, giving them the chance to turn their startup dreams into reality. The show invites contestants to pitch their concepts to five “sharks” — wealthy angel investors — who then evaluate the companies and determine whether they’re worth investing in.

Now in its third season, Shark Tank has provided a number of young entrepreneurs with the capital they need to launch or expand their businesses. But what happens after the episodes aired? Snagging investors was only the beginning. For a story for Entrepreneur.com, I spoke with three young treps who dished on their experience with the show and how their businesses are faring in the real world. Click here to read the piece.

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Entrepreneur.com: On Crowdfunding Sites, Age Doesn’t Matter

For many young, first-time entrepreneurs, tapping parents for startup capital is the closest they’ll come to landing investors. But what do you do if the bank of mom and dad can’t or won’t subsidize your brilliant business idea? Consider crowdfunding.

Websites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and PeerBackers follow a crowd sourcing business model, wherein members sign on as backers and supply the capital necessary to start a business or product. In return, these investors typically receive tangible rewards like special access to a screening, a T-shirt or a sample of the proposed product.

The good news? Age tends not to be an issue among crowdfunding investors. “Young people have proven they are able to raise money like anyone else,” says IndieGoGo’s CEO and co-founder Slava Rubin. “The key for anyone is to have a good pitch, be proactive and find an audience that cares.”

Check out this story for Entrepreneur.com for more tips on how to successfully crowdfund a business.

Entrepreneur.com: Keep Your Customers Coming Back

One of the most common mistakes small-business
owners make is to focus so much time on attracting new customers that they skimp on the effort it takes to create loyal customers. That’s a mistake, because it’s more expensive to get new customers than to retain them. To develop and nurture a relationship with your customers, you have to communicate regularly and, above all, provide consistently over-the-top service.

For a story for Entrepreneur.com, I took a look at how three small businesses are keeping the customers they worked so hard to attract. One business uses a low-cost online service to send automatic emails to some 400 customers at any time, whether it’s to wish them a happy birthday, congratulate an anniversary or simply thank them for their loyalty. Another lets their customers watch the progress of their work in real time online. And the third uses Cardagin, a mobile loyalty and customer retention program, to send special offers to customers on their smartphones and reward them with loyalty points.

Other small businesses can mimic these smart customer retention ideas in order to keep their customers coming back. They all involve use of new technology, and for that, these small business owners should be applauded for their innovation.