#Success advice for any #startup interested in #Sharktank!

1. Make sure you know who your competitors are, if any. Tons of great product ideas pitch on Shark Tank and then Lori says “Yeah, I’ve seen this before, we just sold 10,000 of these last week on QVC.” This same idea goes for smartphone apps, you have to create something really unique in the app space and make sure no one else has already thought of it and did it better.

2. Make sure it has a WIDE application. The Scrub Daddy did $14 million in sales right after Shark Tank because it was a product that anyone on the planet (with a kitchen sink) could easily buy and use.

3. Don’t make your pricing insane. Who remembers the marital confrontation Stuffed Elephant in a Box that was a plush toy in a plastic box for $60? It might make for a fun gag gift, but not for $60.

4. Don’t ever mention “I’m going on the show for national exposure” anywhere in your application,  phone interview and certainly not during your actual televised pitch. With 7 million viewers per show that is one of those blatantly obvious things that the producers hate to hear. It seems that there is a culture within Shark Tank in which the entire “free exposure” concept is taboo to talk about.  

5. Be entertaining. Shark Tank is about 90% viewer share and only 10% real business. The brilliant producers who handled my segment rigged a balloon drop to coincide with the moment when I said “Balloon Distractions”. This would never happen in a dry business meeting with venture capitalists. I feel that some entrepreneurs get on simply because they are entertaining, not because they have a decent business idea. We are both; Balloon Distractions has done $5 million in sales and booked entertainers into restaurants 100,000 times, but I feel that we got on the show because I own a BALLOON business and the producers felt it would make for a fun segment.

6. If you have fun / attractive personalities in your business use them on the audition video. There are plenty of Shark Tank segments that have included good looking / sexy / pretty folks. This is TV after all, if you have a “looker” in your business include them in your pitch. In talking to the Nardo brothers at Nardo’s Naturals I’m convinced that Barbara invested in them because she thought the boys were sexy! I’ve watched every episode going back to Season 1, there has been no shortage of cleavage on the show….. case in point:

http://sharktankclips.com/season-3-episode-3-you-smell/

7. Before you pitch on the show go out and sell your product to PROVE there is some type of demand, even if your business is less than a year old. The sharks are impressed by hustle and moxie, if you go and work trade shows and state fairs for a few months and sell 50K in product you have proof that regular folks out there in the market can be converted to customers.

8. There is nothing wrong with taking something obvious and putting a new twist on it, grilled cheese sandwiches have been around for a thousand years, but Tom and Chee turned it into a successful restaurant franchise with proven sales and strong business systems.

9. Build your business big enough to support you full time. The Sharks hate part-time business owners. Your loyalties are divided if you make 70K as a pharmacist and 10K from your business. The Sharks know this, none of them became wealthy by building their companies 10 hours a week.

10. Last but not least, keep it very simple. Tom and Chee, Scrub Daddy, Chord Buddy, Wicked Good Cupcakes, etc. all of the successful pitches can be summed up in a short sentence. Our company sends balloon artists into restaurants to entertain the kids while they wait for the food to arrive at the table, that’s why we’re called Balloon Distractions!

Hope that helps, and Happy Twisting!

-Ben Alexander

Founder / CEO

http://www.BalloonDistractions.com

SHARKS! …. in balloon hats.

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Shark Tank posted this pic on their Facebook wall today, and various bloggers have written about us ALREADY so there is no secret that our episode airing THIS Friday will be a BIG moment in latex history.

HUGE THANKS to all the members of the Los Angeles team who came out the day before and made these amazing shapes; the motorcycle for Robert Herjavek, Shark Hat for Lori Greiner, Fruit hat for Mr. Wonderful, Crown for Barbara Corcoran and Dallas Mavs player for Mark Cuban.

Most people have seen an artist twisting in a restaurant and never realized that you could build a fun and profitable business around that concept. We are the first company to establish a decade-long reputation with NATIONAL brands like Chili’s, IHOP, Applebees, Texas Roadhouse, etc.

Our online Orientation makes sure that 100% of our artists are trained to a very high standard, and 100% of our bookings are CALL CHECKED across 4 time zones.

We know that there are people out there who are looking for a fun business built on family values with a corporate culture of creativity and compassion towards children.

If you would like to work with us to build a region in YOUR area please go to:

http://balloondistractions.com/build-a-region.html

Feel free to hit the SHARE button below and work with us to bring more people into our fun and creative enterprise!

Pay for COLLEGE with Balloons!

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Balloon Distractions PAID Internship Program

Balloon Distractions currently operates in 30 markets across the United States, from Seattle to Miami to Minneapolis. Each region is managed by a Regional Partner, many of whom started on the team as entry level entertainers, working their way through college.

Our company holds an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and is being featured on Season 5 of the top rated ABC show “Shark Tank” on January 17th, 2014.

This program seeks to partner with local colleges and universities to develop new Regional Partners in all 200 demographic market areas across the United States.

How it works:

Interns will learn how to entertain in restaurants, hire and train new staff and seek out and land new restaurant clients.  They will work closely with the local Regional Partner in a mentor / mentee relationship.

Interns will earn $12 to $25 per HOUR working in restaurants.

By working in a “real world” environment our interns will gain valuable experience inside a national company that will complement their academic work in the classroom.

Ideal candidate:

Any ambitious student with an expressive personality and a strong work ethic who is great at thinking “on their feet”.

An ideal candidate will be non-conventional, creative and personally dynamic.

Internship Program Goals:

This internship will teach a mix of pragmatic business skills; public speaking, customer service, hiring and managing staff and how to prospect and close new clients. Interns will work closely with Balloon Distractions staff as well as General Managers in national chains such as IHOP, Chili’s, Applebee’s, etc.

Within our pool of interns we want to identify and develop the future Regional Partners who will help us place a team in every metro area in the United States.

Specific timeline / schedule

The timeframe specified here is at the discretion of the intern and the Regional Partner who will be assigned to mentor them (the RP mentor). This internship is flexible and should work around the schedules of both the intern and their RP mentor.

Week 1-3:  Intern will learn the basic entertainer role and go to restaurants to fill bookings, while doing so the intern is guaranteed to earn a minimum of $12 per hour. Intern will also be taught our online scheduling system and navigate our Online Training Interface.

Week 4-7:  Intern will assist their RP mentor as they recruit and interview new entertainers.

Week 8-10:  Intern will assist RP mentor in prospecting and landing new clients.

During the entire internship (and after) the intern is encouraged to fill bookings in the local area. Intern has the freedom to log onto our scheduling system and choose bookings at will, so there is flexibility based on the intern’s college schedule.

Completion Requirements

#1. The intern is required to successfully fill 20 bookings in the course of the 10 week program, each booking is from 3-4 hours in length and are normally in the evenings from 5PM on.

There are also Saturday and Sunday breakfast bookings that run from 9AM to 1PM.

#2. Intern must hire and train 2 crew members alongside the RP mentor.

#3. Intern must sell 2 new clients alongside the RP mentor

Interns are expected to sign an intern contract which includes a non-disclosure and non-compete clause.

This program can be custom designed based upon the specific credit hour requirements of your university and / or major.

Regional Partners earn $40,000 to $55,000 in their first year, so this is a viable post graduation track for any 4rth year college student.  

Contact:

BenAlexander@BalloonDistractions.com

 

Now money vs. FUTURE money.

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Written by Ben Alexander

When you trade dollars for hours you are working NOW for income NOW.

You are limited to 24 hours per day, so your income is limited as well in this scenario.

If you build a business you will not be paid hourly, and you may not see a profit or payback for weeks or even months…. but IF you design your business the right way it will create income for you far into the future.

As long as your business uses a TEAM you are building FUTURE money that will be generated when you are asleep, out of the country, drunk, or on a date with your spouse.

( Or any of those four combined !)

Of course, if you spend all your time on FUTURE money you may not have enough to pay your bills today, so there has to be a smart balance.

When you are young and broke you need to spend enough time on NOW money to meet your basic needs, but should also spend some time on FUTURE money that will pay off down the line. IF you earn more than you spend you can invest the extra and turn NOW money into FUTURE money.

If you take on debt you are deducting funds from your FUTURE money.

Getting a decent college education is all about FUTURE money, dropping out of high school at 15 years old to work at Taco Bell is all about NOW money.

Poor folks work for NOW money, usually because that is what they have learned from the other poor people they have lived and interacted with over the years. 

When I started Balloon Distractions in 2003 I needed to earn at least $300 a week in tips, so I went out to restaurants in Tampa and filled gigs a couple of nights per week. During the day I would sell new clients and train new balloon artists. Within a year the tips became a much smaller percentage of my overall income.

If you spend time to train someone in your business you are creating Future money, if you do the job yourself because “no one can do it better than me” you are working for NOW money.

At Balloon Distractions we’ve designed an online training interface so that our team can learn how to grow the company without my presence.  If I go into a coma today my company has the systems in place so that when I wake up in 2020 it will be larger by a magnitude of 4 or 5.

At this point in my life all my expenses are covered and I spend almost 99% of my work time on building FUTURE money.

Mainly this involves working to recruit new Regional Partners in order to place Balloon Distractions crews in every city in North America with over 100,000 people.

277 cities in the USA meet this criteria…. and we only do business in less than 35 of those. 

Even taking time to write this essay may result in FUTURE money because someone online  might read it, get interested in my business, and decide to join my team, you never know! 

My personal goal is to be worth $10 million by my 50th birthday….. and I’ll only reach that by focusing like a laser beam on FUTURE money.

Even if I don’t get to 10, I might get to 6 or 7 million, and that would not be too bad.

Which type of money are you focusing on today, this week, right now?

 

The Seasons of your Life

Hanging out in North Carolina with Todd Barrow.Image

written by Ben Alexander, founder of BalloonDistractions.com

Todd started with us as an entertainer filling gigs part time and now runs one of the largest regions in our organization. I got to spend some time with him during the summer of 2013 and we had some great conversations about work, life, and all the BIG questions.

Todd and I are both knocking on 40, and we’ve both had all kinds of varied and weird jobs. Todd was in the military, counseled young people for drug addiction, and even installed water filters!

One of things that Todd and I discussed (over a beer or three) were the “seasons of life” that we all go through along this journey, and how certain types of work fit better at certain points in your life.

Case is point is the college student that joins us and fills gigs as an Independent Contractor, they log on, choose where and how often they want to work, and the flexibility of this works in their favor.

Then you have the stay at home Mom, she might have kids in elementary school, but she doesn’t want the hassle of a typical 9-5 job, so she learns to twist and uses our company to get out of the house 2 nights a week and earn a couple hundred $$$.

The third example might be a retired military veteran who gets out of the military in their 40’s with a small pension and joins our team as a Regional Partner and earns 40K per year by organizing the team, selling new clients and occasionally filling a gig to keep the schedule populated.  

Each of these three examples represent someone in a different season of their life, with different perspectives and goals, along with varied levels of life experience.

As a company we respect whatever season of life you happen to be in, and we’re grateful that people from various backgrounds, ages and experience have joined our team.

So what season are YOU in?

Are you happy with where you are in life, or do you want to make a change and do something different? We are looking for Regional Partners in 200 metro markets throughout the United States, check out our website at BalloonDistractions.com!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The apple does not fall far from the tree….

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written by Ben Alexander

Next month my oldest daughter Claire turns 16. When I started Balloon Distractions she was only in kindergarten, she’s been there all along from Balloon Jams in our living room to expanding this across the entire country. Many times Claire and her sister Grace went with me to restaurants to train new artists, and they’ve been there all along when my wife and I have discussed business challenges across the dinner table.  

There are a handful of event gigs that I’ve been doing year after year, Claire has been going along with me as my “apprentice twister”. She’s wonderful with children and very good at handling people in general so I’m getting her ready to rock some restaurant gigs once she’s mastered a few more shapes.

My youngest daughter Grace has ZERO interest in doing this, so I’m glad Claire has stepped up to the plate. I don’t want to push them, I’m just glad to spend time with Claire, she is a joy to work with.

We’ve been in business 10 years already so it makes sense that we will still be around in another 20 or 30 years. I think Claire has some natural leadership talents that could lend themselves well to helping me lead this company, not just in the United States but internationally as well.  

At the same time I don’t want to be the type of business owner who promotes his child just because of blood, Claire will have to prove herself at every level.

As a parent I’m doing my level best to make sure both my daughters get a solid academic foundation that opens many doors to them, whether in business or elsewhere.  

 

Systems and Complexity.

I’ve been reading books on soil microbiology, capitalism and the growth of railroads from 1850 to 1900 and (last but not least) a book by Kevin Kelly on the evolution of technology in the last 50 years. All three books have a common underlying theme: through the use of well developed systems  a problem is solved with sublime balance and simplicity.

All three books are really about evolving systems: from the way protozoa eat bacteria in soil to the way railroad companies organized freight schedules to the progression of technology from vacuum tubes to the modern high speed internet. The evolution of technology is by far the most rapid of all three because modern progress is continuously becoming a more complex and interwoven system. Case in point: an advance in material technology leads to a faster computer processor, which helps a geneticist unravel a viral genome, and from this another doctor figures out how to graft human skin onto a metal prosthesis, which leads to more human-like robots, etc.

Even singing in a choir you need complex systems… taken in pieces the notes are very simple and unremarkable, but when they are combined in the complexity of voices and instruments a complex and multi-level beauty emerges, all from the organization of simple notes on a sheet of paper.  Perhaps this is why so many scientists and engineers are also musicians on the side…..

Inherent in everything is a quiet system at work. Even the words that you are reading right now are a small part of a highly evolved language system that was started 10,000 years ago and continues to develop even to this day.

Language enabled humans to pass along knowledge from one generation to the next, our forebears learned how to make weapons, which mushroom it was safe to eat… or which root would help cure certain illnesses. We are the products of a vast system of oral and written knowledge that has been modified and grown through ten thousand generations.

Look at any form of biological reproduction: from bacterial replication to mammals bearing live young to a dandelion being visited by a pollen-hungry bee. Vastly different in implementation, but the goal of all three is the same.

The most successful businesses use systems internally, and the largest companies on the planet sell systems that help the consumer simplify their lives. All IT companies sell systems, from Apple to Microsoft to Google.

Take a look at the entire world around you, there is a system quietly humming right there in front of your nose, from the orchid blooming on your desk to the swirling electrons and organized binary bits inside your computer that manifest the words on your computer screen.

As technology moves into the Conceptual Age everything will revolve around clever systems designed to solve a problem.

You might invent the next billion dollar system!

Ben Alexander

2010

Mike Walker recruits in Philadelphia

The next section was written by Mike Walker, our 20 year-old regional leader in Philadelphia. Mike is one of our youngest and most successful regional leaders, he knows his stuff !

Recruiting twisters is the same as selling restaurants.  As a recruiter you are selling the concept of working for balloon distractions to prospective twisters.  Confidence is key, and just like selling restaurants, it all hinges on belief in the product and the ability to convey that belief to the target audience. 

Establishing legitimacy is a very important aspect of overcoming the doubts prospective twisters may have concerning their work with Balloon Distractions.  Many prospective twisters fear that this business is a “scam” (nothing is farther from the truth). It sounds “too good to be true” for many people (it did to me) but I make sure to avoid negative language such as “scam”, “con”, or “rip off.” 

Concerning payment I say this to every prospective twister

“Payment is all in tips, what you make is what you keep, balloon distractions never sees a single dollar of what you earn.  If you make 100 dollars working on a Friday night, you keep all of that money no payments to balloon distractions.  Balloon Distractions serves as a talent agency that simply finds restaurants for Twisters. 

Where I find all my twisters: Restaurants

I cannot begin to stress the importance of restaurant recruiting, three quarters of all the twisters I have trained, I recruited in restaurants.  Recruiting in a restaurant is the easiest way to recruit new twisters.  Prospective twisters meet you face to face and see the company in action.  When somebody sees a flyer advertising fifteen dollars an hour they automatically suspect the legitimacy of the job, however at a restaurant there is no doubt that this is a legitimate business.  Patrons can see us at work, as well as see first hand the clean cut and articulate nature of those already working for the company.  The “wad of cash” is the greatest asset when approaching prospective twisters.  Show the patrons how much money you have made in your x hours of work and then tell them how much you will walk out of the restaurant with in “X” hours total work. 

There is another advantage to recruiting in restaurants.  Beyond legitimacy, you can get a feel for the caliber of each individual while you are making them balloon animals.  In conversation, note their personality and take that in consideration while interviewing them. 

At first for me, restaurant recruiting was a very difficult and awkward process.  I would go up to a table of my peers, make them a balloon animal and offer them a job.  It seemed weird. As opposed interjecting how well twisting balloons pays at the end of entertaining a table of people, I now weave aspects about the job into my conversation with patrons, and I am ALWAYS constantly looking for any interest that the patron has.  Normally questions such as “how did you get into this”, or “how does being a clown pay?” are great ways to begin to recruit patrons at the table.  I always stress that I wish I had come upon this job sooner (which is true) and that it is the perfect job for high school and college students, or whatever their age demographic may be. 

For every table that expresses minimal interest in becoming twister, I write “$15/hr” on the back of the business card that I leave at each table.  I tell them to call me when they are tired of making minimum wage working 20 hour weeks, when they can make the same money in two shifts in Balloon Distractions.

At every table I work, I search for any slight interest that the patron has in becoming a twister, or making more money.  I always find ways to tie into the conversation how I got started twisting and how much I make (without making the conversation awkward for the patrons). 

Every night I make it my goal to leave the restaurant with the phone number of at least one prospective twister.  If they have your number there is a very miniscule chance that they will end up working with balloon distractions, however if you have their number and you call and set up an interview, there is a very good chance they will end up working with us.