Big fish shares pearls of wisdom

June 30, 2016 by Author Maria Nicola

Tank six months ago, Maria Nicola has learned to “test the waters” before getting in too deep.

The Lane Cove entrepreneur appeared on the hit Channel 10 series Shark

Tank, where big-time investors compete to choose inventions that they think will succeed in the market.

“Shark” and RedBalloon founder Naomi Simson invested $75,000 into Ms Nicola’s 10-way necklace – a piece of jewellery which can be worn 10 ways – in exchange for a 40 per cent share of the one-year-old start-up.

Ms Simson – who turned her own online gift retailer into one of the country’s biggest online success stories – had already been an asset to her business, Ms Nicola said.

“She’s taught me to test the water in a small way, see if that works then magnify and then magnify again, rather than go in guns blazing,” she said.

Ms Nicola said she had previously had more of a tendency to blow money on ideas without thinking them through. The change in tactics had already paid dividends, she said.

When the show was filmed in November she had sold about 1400 necklaces in the first year.

Since then, she has sold the same number again.

Ms Nicola said her experience on the show “couldn’t have been better”.

“I think Naomi would be such an asset to my business, especially with all her retail experience.

“There was a connection there. She makes you feel really special when you’re standing in a nervous atmosphere.”

Ms Nicola said she had been “very nervous” about appearing “like a fool” on the show but was pleased how it came across when the show aired last week.

She started the business a year and a half ago on her own with $20,000, she said.

“I started this business with the mentality that I better like what I’m making because if it all goes belly up I’m going to have to wear it all,” she said.

Far from belly up, the business turned over $80,000 in its first year.

“It’s been like a rollercoaster,” she said.