Wearing your heart on your sleeve in front of five self-made multi-millionaires on Shark Tank is no easy feat and, when I look back now at the road that led me here, I am overwhelmed with awe and gratitude. It was only a few years ago that I was giving pole lessons out of a humble two-pole studio in my parent’s garage and now here I was, doing a nation-wide business pitch to franchise what had now become The Pole Room.
The Pole Room was born from my love of pole dancing and a dream of creating a beautiful space where pole enthusiasts could meet and share their friendship, passions and experiences together. I wanted to create a community where each individual uplifts the other – an environment where one person’s success, strength and confidence is as celebrated as your own. And thanks to my partner Andy’s hard work and equal faith in this dream, The Pole Room has become a wonderful, thriving reality.
Andy and I really do owe the growth of The Pole Room to this incredible partnership we have – it’s the perfect match of skills. I bring over 8 years of industry knowledge and expertise, while Andy brings his skills and experience in business and marketing. Together – with our shared passions – we focus on introducing more people to what we label as fun, challenging and empowering exercise.
When we found out we were accepted to appear on the entrepreneurial TV show Shark Tank we knew this wasn’t going to be just about the investment. We were about to be given an incredible opportunity to shine a positive light on the pole industry and how it’s changing thousands of lives across the world. Whether a Shark invested in our business or not, we were excited to attract attention to – not just our own studio but pole studios everywhere.
Stepping into the Shark Tank makes you completely vulnerable. There are no second-takes and everything you say can be used for the final edit. For the next 90 minutes you’re at the mercy of the Sharks. They’ll ask you all the hard questions and challenge your point of your view. They aim to establish if your business’s potential for growth is high and then determine if they can add value. If they can do both, chances are they’ll make you an offer.
Our pitch to the Sharks focused on the expansion of The Pole Room Nationwide. We know the transformative power of our ‘Pole Fitness’ program and saw this as the quickest way to positively impact more people. The investment we were asking for was $100,000 for a 15% stake in our business. This money would be used to develop our franchise system, which would give our program the opportunity to reach more people, household’s and community’s .
While we spent time preparing our proposal and financial projections, Andy and I knew the most difficult task would be over-coming any preconceived ideas about Pole. After all, we were pitching a business in an industry that is misunderstood and remains taboo to many. It was our aim to at the very least to show the legitimacy of Pole as an alternative form of fitness. We wanted to prove that Pole Fitness studio’s are not only operating, but thriving in Australia.
We took our business into Shark Tank with excitement to the challenge it presented and openness to where it could lead us. Although we didn’t make a deal with any of the Sharks, we were offered mentoring by Janine Allis, the founder of Boost Juice. Janine needs no introduction as she is arguably Australia’s most well known franchising expert. In addition to this, The Pole Room was well received by every Shark, which is a testament to how far Pole has come in the last decade.
Since appearing on the show we have acquired our biggest competitor Pole Princess, opened up The Pole Room for franchising and developed a new and exciting business model. Our new business model will make Pole just as accessible to the average person as a cycle, pilates or yoga class. By doing this we will challenge the status quo in the fitness industry as we strongly believe Pole is more addictive, exciting and rewarding than any other of those mentioned.
Surprisingly, It wasn’t a $100,000 investment on Shark Tank that has motivated us to keep pushing forward, but rather words. The time we spent with Janine has given us invaluable knowledge and insight into what it’ll take to expand The Pole Room. When I asked Janine how we could possibly repay her for all her time and help, her response was simply – “Just go out there and make yourself a huge success”.
This article first appeared in the Australian Pole Dancers Magazine