Heart Pup Before Shark Tank.
Fashion conscious Law student Anastasia Balyura couldn’t bear to be parted from her dog during her study periods. To solve her dilemma she developed a product to allow her furry companion to be with her at all times. She believed that the innovative and functional fashion accessory she had created would appeal to her fellow trendsetting dog owners and she founded her Heart Pup business to meet the demand.
Heart Pup During Shark Tank.
Anastasia appeared alone before the sharks in October 2014, introduced herself to the sharks and announced she was seeking $25,000 in exchange for 10% equity in her Heart Pup business.
She began her pitch, rather confusingly for the sharks, by talking about her baby Trixi, who loved to be ‘held twenty four seven’, she informed her bewildered looking audience that Trixi had even attended law school with her. With a final enigmatic statement asserting that Trixi was with her in the shark tank even at that moment, she finally revealed her constant companion to the sharks. Hidden underneath her sweater was Trixi herself, a cute little chihuahua nestling within Anastasia’s custom made dog sling/carrier. With only a soulful look from deep dark eyes, Trixi seemed to win over Robert Herjavec and Daymond John in an instant, while Kevin O’Leary looked at her as if he couldn’t work out which species she was.
Anastasia pulled back a curtain to reveal some mannequins wearing demonstration slings, she continued her pitch by declaring that the Heart Pup dog sling was ‘The Worlds best dog carrier’. She elaborated on the benefits of her product further by explaining that her carrier was unique because it was functional, fashionable and comfortable.
The Heart Pup carriers were hand made out of an Italian Cashmere blend and felt luxurious. They came equipped with a large outside pocket that was spacious enough to allow the user to keep their keys or phone inside. They were designed ergonomically and could fit on either shoulder as required. Finally they also included a clip that could attach to the collar of the furry occupant to prevent an attempted leap to freedom, although that kind of energy expenditure seemed like the last thing on sleepy Trixi’s mind.
As Anastasia handed out some samples of the carriers, Kevin suggested that Trixi’s relaxed pose might be less than natural and he asked her if Trixi was drugged.
Robert Herjavec in contrast, was full of admiration for Trixi. He confessed that he also had a chihuahua at home. Anastasia was on the ball when it came to sales opportunities and she sang to him that 30% of her customers were men. Robert urgently clarified that the chihuahua was his daughters and Anastasia continued to demonstrate her selling ability, quickly replying that Robert’s daughter would look great in a Heart Pup sling.
Lori Greiner asked Anastasia if she was already selling the Heart Pup slings and the young entrepreneur launched into a statement that quickly confirmed she was, however she then veered off into a tangent that detailed her time in law school some more. Although her speech appeared quite short on the show when it was aired, the producers included some footage of Lori and Daymond attempting to interrupt her monologue at points, unsuccessfully in both cases. In case anyone hadn’t guessed, the producers made it quite clear that Anastasia had been an enthusiastic and slightly rambling speaker during her time in the tank, they also made it look like none of the sharks could get a word in edgewise.
There were a few questions about law school and a bit more waffling from Anastasia but eventually Daymond pinned her down and wanted to know how many units she had sold.
Anastasia confirmed she had been selling her carriers for approximately one year and had sold 980 units.
Mark Cuban asked what the retail price of her product was and the surprising answer was $138 each. Kevin O’Leary exclaimed ‘What?’ in surprise and Mark looked equally taken aback by the high price.
Robert Herjavec inquired what the cost of the item was. Anastasia confirmed each unit cost her only $8 for fabrics and an additional $8 for production.
The sharks looked genuinely impressed, Robert commented ‘Those margins are crazy!’ and Daymond declared that they were the best margins he had ever heard. Even Kevin smiled in admiration, but only a little.
The interest from the sharks towards the talkative entrepreneur increased a little and Robert asked what the total sales had been so far, Anastasia confirmed $135,000 was the total sales figure in her first year of business.
‘You’re killing it, you’re making real money.’ Mark Cuban told Anastasia, as impressed as all the others sharks at this surprisingly profitable business.
‘You’re making $100,000 a year’ said Robert, who had borrowed Trixi for a bit of affectionate Shark – Dog interaction. ‘Yeah, I guess so’ Anastasia replied causually, because that’s what Anastasia was like in the shark tank, immensely likeable, surprisingly profitable, fairly talkative, and somewhat unlike every other applicant who had ever been on the show.
There were a few more questions that generated some long explanations from Anastasia, who finally, after referencing Henry Ford, described how she needed sharks to help her achieve growth within her business. She described how she envisaged a row of buttons on her desk that she could press and have a shark arrive to help her out, ‘I want you to be my buttons’ she told the sharks as she finished her lengthy speech.
Lori asked how the sales up to that point had been made, Anastasia told her that they had all been via the internet and through word of mouth.
Daymond confirmed that the product was still being hand-made by Anastasia and he expressed admiration for the fabric. He asked Anastasia what she would use the $25,000 investment for.
She explained that she intended to use the money to facilitate a third party manufacturer, to make the product for her, so that she could concentrate on running the business.
Robert Herjavec loved animals but he didn’t share Anastasia’s vision. He congratulated her on her success so far but he couldn’t see a mass-market appeal for the Heart Pup carriers, and with that he dropped out of the negotiations. Trixi, seated comfortably in his lap, gave him the faintest look of disappointment.
Mark Cuban explained to Anastasia how he would ‘go nuts’ in her business, he admired it and thought it could be a great company in time, but he wasn’t ‘a button guy’. He repeated that investing in Heart Pup would drive him crazy, and with that he joined Robert in dropping out.
Anastasia didn’t want to end the conversation with Mark and tried to pin him down on some of his points, Mr Cuban looked uncharacteristically flustered and repeated that he would ‘go nuts’ if he invested with her. He appealed to Anastasia to speak with the other sharks who had not yet dropped out, almost pleading with her ‘Go on, go on’ and pointing up the line. It was becoming increasingly clear that the business was not as likely to drive Mark insane as a working partnership with Anastasia would be.
Lori Greiner received the attention of the talkative entrepreneur next and Anastasia urged her ‘Lori, lets make a deal.’, but Lori was less enthusiastic about a partnership. She felt that the Heart Pup carrier could be copied too easily and it wasn’t unique. It was also a niche product in Lori’s opinion and would be unlikely to appeal to a large market, especially at the high retail price. For those reasons, Lori was also out.
Kevin O’Leary hadn’t asked Anastasia a single question during her time in the tank, he was abrupt and to the point as he explained why. ‘I hate rat dogs a lot, I just hate them.’ he explained, before quickly confirming ‘I’m out’.
With only Daymond John left in the negotiations, things were looking fairly uncertain for Heart Pup in the Shark Tank, but if anyone would support this expensive, fashionable accessory it would be the most fashionable shark of all.
Things looked brighter for Anastasia immediately as Daymond declared ‘I’ve been waiting for all the jokers to get out of the deck’. He revealed that his director of licensing had encouraged him to look towards the market for animal products recently. Daymond believed there was money to be made in the area and he had an offer to make. He suggested an investment of $50,000 in exchange for 40% equity in the business.
The other sharks seemed surprised by Daymond’s offer and Kevin remarked ‘That’s sick’.
With no other options Anastasia gave the deal a moments thought but quickly accepted it. As she left the show she talked excitedly to Trixi about the Deal, Trixi said nothing in response, perhaps because she was only a dog, or perhaps because she just couldn’t get a word in.
Heart Pup Now in 2018 – After Shark Tank Update
As Lori Greiner pointed out during the show, the Heart Pup dog carrier is essentially a niche item. It’s too expensive for a mass market item but it does seem to have become a far more common accessory amongst the beautiful people, particularly the beautiful people who happen to be young, female and rich. The product is featured in several online fashion blogs and publications, of which there are an enormous and varied array. Heart Pup might fail to ever make multi millions in profits, but what it does make, it will make for a tiny cost of the eventual return.
The product range has been extended into a huge selection of differently styled carriers since the show and customers can buy directly from the Heart Pup website, Amazon, or a number of other online outlets. The Heart Pup brand make regular Facebook and Twitter updates in which Trixi makes frequent appearances, still as cute as ever, she is as much a part of the Heart Pup brand as Anastasia herself.
The huge mark up that Anastasia revealed in the Shark Tank made the Heart Pup business a fairly safe investment for Daymond John. Such a safe bet should have seen more than one deal offered but ultimately, the viewer was left with the impression that it was Anastasia herself, and her rapid fire manner of speaking, rather than the business she sought investment for, that put some of the sharks off of an investment with her. With a good result in the Shark Tank and a hugely profitable item being marketed to a customer base that she understands well, Anastasia should feel as comfortable as her furry partner always looks when she’s modelling the brand.