Susty Get-Together Before Shark Tank:
A good party, a few glasses of champagne, some delicious food, and attractive people to dance with are all things that most people enjoy. Susty Party’s creators, Jessica Holsey and Emily Doubilet were huge fans of parties. The two met at one of their homes in Brooklyn, New York, and immediately began talking about business potential.
Jessica was searching for a way to leave her Wall Street career and put her Harvard Economics degree to better use, Emily was an environmental studies graduate, and the two of them came up with a method to start their own company while still keeping the party going.
They started Susty Party, which stands for “sustainable,” and began selling environmentally friendly, high-quality party goods to other partygoers. All of their products were created from recycled materials or renewable resources, and they sourced them from manufacturers that employed visually impaired workers. Their goal was to build a firm that reflected their own values, one that was environmentally friendly, successful, and provided customers with a good time.
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A half-joking suggestion at a business conference that the two apply for Shark Tank was quickly taken up, and Jessica and Emily began the lengthy application process. They were eventually told of their application’s success, and after a little celebratory dance, which was a frequent occurrence for the business couple, they began preparing for their presentation.
Shark Tank’s Susty Party:
There are fun individuals who are invited to every party, and then there are the truly fun people who make the party happen all around them. When Jessica and Emily entered the tank, they made sure the sharks understood what kind of people they were. The two entrepreneurs went in wearing party hats and exchanging high-fives, introducing themselves and announcing that they were seeking a $250,000 investment in exchange for 10% interest in their company.
Just in case the Sharks were still blind to their characters’ fun-loving side, they made it plain as they launched into an impassioned presentation, complete with considerable arm waving and carousing of selected lines. As the pitch went, the mix of important business points of interest intermingled with casual delight grew almost surreal, but there was little doubt that the Susty Party duo and the sharks were having a good time.
The show appeared to be coming to an end, but the good times were just beginning. The sharks were encouraged to come up and dance ‘Susty Party Style’ by the duo. You’ll be astonished to learn that Kevin O’Leary was the first shark to jump out of his seat when the offer was made.
Lori Greiner and Barbara Corcoran swiftly followed Kevin’s lead, and Mr. Wonderful was an unexpected hit on the dance floor. Kevin O’Leary busting moves in the shark tank with four lovely ladies surprised me, but unless he was just up there to swipe a few environmentally friendly party plates and the editing covered up his crime, it appears Kevin is quite the party animal himself when he’s not eviscerating strategically unsound investment opportunities that are.
The sharks sat back with a party drink and the atmosphere was almost convivial for a time, but certain parties have a knack for turning sour at a moment’s notice, so the fun had to take a back seat.
Robert Herjavec inquired as to whether Susty Party was the sole provider of their goods. In an attempt to evade the subject, Emily confirmed they were ‘contract created,’ but not easy enough for the sharks. ‘Can I buy these exclusively from you?’ Barbara said, simplifying the matter. Jessica tried to evade it this time by talking about sales channel distribution,’ but Robert had had enough of the game by this point and cut her off.
The atmosphere calmed down, and additional questions regarding pricing and manufacturing surfaced. The topic of conversation eventually shifted to sales. Jessica said that the company had made over a million dollars in sales so far that year, with year-end projections of $1.5 million.
The gathering was energized by the good news. Lori exclaimed, “Fantastic,” and Robert Herjavec stated that he was now taking the entrepreneurs “much more seriously.” Jessica took advantage of the sharks’ heightened attention. She indicated that if the company received a similar investment, it could fairly anticipate growing its sales networks and product line, as well as attaining $5 million in revenues the next year.
Regrettably, the earnings were not quite as remarkable as the sales figures. Jessica grudgingly admitted that the company had lost about $80,000 that year due to high costs, mostly associated with introducing new items. Jessica replied that the company’s cash was now just about $30,000. Mark Cuban appeared concerned and inquired how much capital the firm had to back it up at the time.
With the news, the party atmosphere seemed to die a little more, with Mark Cuban remarking that such minimal capital was ‘a concern.’ Robert inquired about the company’s inventory worth. The sharks made a few critical comments when Jessica acknowledged that they had stock worth at least $125,000.
Kevin O’Leary was ready to put a damper on the party even further. He pointed out that there was nothing special about Susty Party; anyone could buy the same items and resell them. Jessica defended the company by claiming that Susty Party was “genuine.” Kevin retorted, ‘I’m authentic as well.’ After a little pause, Jessica said, ‘We’re responsive.’ Kevin challenged, ‘I’m more responsive,’ with a cheeky gleam in his eye, ‘My point is anyone can do what you’re doing.’
Barbara was worried about propitiatory value as well, but she was more worried about the company’s losses. Barbara left out because she couldn’t see any way to make money on an investment. Robert had more bad news for the duo; he, too, saw a lot of risk in the Susty Party business, and he believed there was a lot more to be done before the company could achieve sustained profitability, so he was out as well.
The party was fast winding down, and Lori decided it was time to depart as well. She informed the duo that she had recently invested in a company that planned to release recyclable paper party plates in the near future and that she was thus disinterested in doing business with them.
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Next up came Kevin O’Leary, who stunned everyone when he stated he had an offer to make, but it wasn’t quite what Jessica and Emily had in mind. He offered a loan of $250,000, but he also demanded 30 percent ownership of the company.
The couple was dissatisfied with the arrangement presented and turned to Mark Cuban for a better offer, but Mark had a number of reservations about the company. The large inventory and low assets pointed to poor management for him, the business was susceptible due to the propitiatory concerns, and he was fired.
‘All roads lead back to Mr. Wonderful,’ Kevin said happily as everyone’s gaze returned to him. Kevin and the Susty Party duo exchanged more barbs, and Jessica offered a half-hearted counteroffer, but Kevin refused to budge an inch from his position. The entrepreneurs were left with little alternative but to take the party somewhere after refusing to accept their lone offer and refusing to meet Kevin’s requirements.
Now in 2022, Susty Party – the After Shark Tank Update
It appeared to be a soft rebuke for the sharks, but it came with the good news that the company had reached an agreement, and with a far more ethical partner than Jessica and Emily had found in the sharks. They announced a few days later that the Susty Party piece, which had originally shown in May 2014, had really been produced in September 2013, and that they had secured half a million dollars in a seed financing round barely two months after filming. They got the investment for only 8% stock in the company, which was much improved over the deal they were looking for on Shark Tank.
The duo leveraged their newfound financial stability to fund and launch their new product line. Whole Foods Market helped with a producer loan to get the new Susty Party goods on the stores and to create bespoke Susty Party variety packs.
Susty Party thrived alongside their new mission-aligned investors, and in May 2014, just weeks after their piece aired, they closed the second round of funding, aided in part by their presence on the show. That wonderful news was quickly overshadowed by even greater news. Target has announced that 27 distinct Susty Party goods would be available at 276 of its stores around the country. Target also planned to advertise the debut of Susty Party to its shops by providing the products in prominent retail areas, as if that wasn’t enough good news.
The Susty Party Website is a functional affair with a large choice of party supplies for sale, but there is a dearth of supporting content typical to business websites, and the Susty Party site appears oddly drab for a party firm. There is a range of their products available on Amazon as well, and while there isn’t a lot of consumer feedback, the reviews that have been left are all largely excellent, praising both the products and the company’s ethical objectives in equal measure.
The only concerning clue I saw online was an abrupt halt in Facebook updates in March 2016, following several years of consistent daily posting. I’m not implying that hangovers are to blame, but with two party-loving businesspeople like the Susty Party duo, it’s an unavoidable suspicion.
With the level of success that Jessica and Emily have attained since their participation in the show, there’s no doubt that they’ve had many of their regular celebration dances, as well as a few hangovers. After surviving dancing with sharks, avoiding a terrible deal with Mr. Wonderful, and rising from a defeat in the tank only to gain greater success than they could have dreamed, you can bet that the two fun-loving entrepreneurs’ celebration will not be ending anytime soon.
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