Sara Pagones The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) After their appearance on "Shark Tank", entrepreneurs Nita Gassen and Judy Schoot sold more "Better Bedders" in the following month than they did during the entire previous year.
Nita Gassen and Judy Schott had a life-changing experience when they appeared on the ABC reality show Shark Tank in February to pitch the Better Bedder, a band that goes around the matter to turn bed-making into an easier chore.
The Mandeville women, who launched their entrepreneurial effort three years ago, are now enjoying a moment of fame. People recognize them when they go out in public — most recently when they had lunch together at a restaurant. And when Gassen's daughter was married earlier this month, the priest joked that he was doing a celebrity wedding.
The pair was asked to speak to a group of young entrepreneurs and they get calls from would-be Shark Tank contestants who want insights from their success on the show, during which three of the show's ultra-rich investors made them offers.
They love the popularity. But the most significant change has been for their business itself. It's known as the "Shark Tank Effect," Gassen said, and it's real.
Schott had insisted that they get to work as soon as the watch party that they hosted for the Feb. 26 show ended, Gassen said. "It was unbelievable. By the time we got back to the house, we had thousands and thousands of orders."
Over the next month, they sold more Better Bedders than in the entire previous year, Gassen said. Sales have quadrupled, with about 40,000 sold to date.
Schott, 61, works as chief operating officer of a health and benefits management company where Gassen, 51, had been in sales. But Gassen left that job before the show aired to focus on the Better Bedder. Now she says it's no longer part-time in any sense, and Better Bedder also employs her daughter, who went back to work the morning she returned from her honeymoon.
"When you start a new business like this, you can't expect to have time," said Gassen, who recently moved from Mandeville to New Orleans.
The outcome of the show, including the shark whose offer they accepted, was exactly what they had hoped for. Lori Greiner is known as the "Queen of QVC," which caters to the customers that Gassen and Schott think are most likely to buy their product: women and older consumers.
"We watched enough Shark Tank to know that every shark had a reason we could go with them," Gassen said. "We wanted Lori, but you never know." But to their astonishment, they ended up getting offers from three of the sharks — a rare occurrence. "We ended up going back with Lori, but we got her to come down some," Gassen said.
Greiner offered $150,000 for an 18% stake and a promise to take the product nationwide. She's been very involved, Gassen said. "Lori's face is on our website now, she's been great, promoting us."
As of yet, the Better Bedder hasn't been featured on QVC. That requires a certain amount of inventory, and their product has been selling out as fast as the sewing shop they use can turn them out.
But as soon as they can catch up, they aim to be selling on QVC, and in two to five years, get the business where they ultimately hope it will be — selling to customers all over the world.
"It's definitely a product that is worldwide, universal," Gassen said.
"Everybody sleeps on a mattress." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.