When SouperGirl founder Sara Polon entered the “Shark Tank” studio, she wasn’t planning on walking out a loser. But that’s exactly what happened, with none of the sharks taking her up on investing in her soup business -- and it turned out to be a great thing.
“I lost on ‘Shark Tank,’ and it's one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Polon says.
Polon, who spent years in stand-up comedy before starting SouperGirl, signed up for the reality competition show at the urging of her staff -- and against her better judgment.
“We just kept advancing to the next round until there we were, walking down the hallway,” she says. “It was an incredible experience. It is as it appears on TV. You don't get a second take, they don't know anything about you before. You get one shot.”
That one shot, as it turned out, wasn’t quite enough -- despite Polon tossing in a “Seinfeld” reference or two. Her pitch just didn’t wow the judges. But she didn’t walk away completely empty-handed.
“They didn't understand my vision and that's OK because I got to tell America about SouperGirl, and that's priceless,” she says. “We get this name recognition, we get national exposure. It just opens up a lot of doors.”
She also took away some valuable lessons.
“I learned on ‘Shark Tank’ to have backup for your beliefs,” she says. “A lot of entrepreneurs get a bad rep for just being stubborn and thinking we know best, and we do not. But if we believe in something and we're passionate about something, we have to back it up.”
Polon, who is now vegan – as are all Soupergirl soups – considers herself a woman on a mission, so to speak. “We can make an impact on the planet if we get more and more people thinking about their food choices,” she says. “If we get millions of people eating this soup, everybody wins.”
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter.