Alexander Mendeluk, Co-Founder of SpiritHoods, Shares How To Survive The Shark Tank

Ryan Espanto via FLICKR
Alexander Mendeluk, Co-Founder of ApiritHoods

Alexander Mendeluk
Co-Founder of SpiritHoods

Alexander Mendeluk, the Co-Founder of SpiritHoods, was featured recently on an episode of ABC’s The Shark Tank. He tells what happens behind the scenes, how he used the show to his advantage, and what comes next for the busy entrepreneur. Alexander has been a FoundersCard Member since 2014.

1. Tell us a bit about your experience on Shark Tank. 
We were approached by the show when we launched in 2010, however we were young and apprehensive at the time. Fast forward to 2013, after seeing awesome growth, we decided to reach out again now that we had some numbers to show for ourselves. 
The experience was incredible, it was a real testament to the strength of our brand, the work we have done and an honor to be apart of. 
2. How long is the filming and how does a regular pitch meeting compare?
Well other than the theatrics and cameras it’s almost identical to a regular pitch meeting! At the end of the day it’s about entertainment, yes the sharks are vetting you and yes it’s real money on the table, but there is definitely an air of play and entertainment. . . which I think normal pitch meetings could use a dose of. 
3. What do you wish you knew about the process/experience before going into the shark tank?
The producers get you well prepared and honestly after being a fan of the show for so long, it was pretty damn close to what you see on TV. 
4. How do the shark’s personalities differ from their TV persona?
Well, from my perspective. . . what you see is what you get. I think they are all actually pretty nice people, they puff it up for camera a bit. They will give you a jab here and there (and yes can tear you apart if you aren’t prepared), but if you know your stuff and you have the numbers to back it up – they seem pretty honest and respectful. 
5. What do you feel was the most valuable part of the experience?
The whole process was amazing. I come from a background in film and television and that helped, but being out there on a major limb with real stakes and real money. . . nothing can prepare you for that. We knew our bottom line, we wanted to go in there and come across authentic and make sure we didn’t get our asses handed to us. . . if we walked away with a deal, great! If not, we at least wanted to leave there with our dignity.
6. What has been the biggest change since the episode airing?
The episode gave us a major adrenaline boost! Not only was it great for exposure, that translated into sales, it helped reinforce the love of our community because we didn’t “sell out.” It helped strengthen our message and brand. We looked at it from the perspective of pitching our brand to 7 million people vs. the 5 that were in the room. 
7. What advice would you give to fellow entrepreneurs walking into the tank?
Know your shit! Don’t sell out, know your value and your bottom line and don’t walk away from that. Trust your gut, a healthy partnership is more important than cash.
Also, make sure you have at the very least market tested your product. Sell something. Patent.
8. Tell us about SpiritHoods and how you came up with the idea.
SpiritHoods is all about embracing the animal inside of us. It’s about self expression, connecting with self, nature and each other while giving back to the endangered animals we draw inspiration from. It spawned from festival culture, my partner and friend Marley and I were making the hoods by hand. I wore one out in Los Angeles once and people went CRAZY! That was the lightbulb moment. .
We wanted to create something that translated our sense of the world and our lifestyle to others. We wanted to make something that might of seemed like costume and show that it could be fun, sexy and playful all at the same time.
9. Tell us about what is next for SpiritHoods.
Now we are on a new trajectory, launching collabs with sister companies such as BlackMilk Clothing, OnePiece and innovating our designs into apparel like Faux Fur Jackets with ears! Make sure to check out this season’s collection.
We also have a collab with Warner Brothers and The Ronan Thompson foundation, raising money and awareness for childhood cancer. 
10. What are other endeavors in which you are currently involved?
I have now soft launched my new brand, The Disruptive.
With The Disruptive I aim to help entrepreneurs start, build, brand and market their businesses so they can make money and help inspire positive change. 
I believe that entrepreneurship is the most powerful vehicle for change and I’m working with incredible startups who feel the same. 
Watch Alexander and SpiritHoods step into the Shark Tank:

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