How Happy Feet Became a Shark Tank Success

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Can a plush slipper put you in a happier mood? Today’s guest and Shark Tank dealmaker have been banking on that since buying the existing Happy Feet business in 2002. He is with us today talking about the wild ride that his kiosk, retail, and e-commerce business has been on with a single brand that now has licensing agreements with the likes of Disney, Marvel, and the NFL.

Pat Yates is another serial entrepreneur and e-commerce success story. Pat has the broadest experience in physical product of almost anyone we’ve talked with here at Quiet Light. From his early start in a retail golf shop, to selling coffee out of a truck in a one-man distribution venture, on to kiosk retail with Happy Feet which now has a booming e-commerce presence, Pat has done it all. He walks us through the Shark Tank process, the deal he struck, the risks he took in his first licensing deal with a celebrity face, and how he managed the rapid growth and cash flow challenges his business faced.

Episode Highlights:

  • When the website for Happy Feet went live and Pat’s vision to merge kiosk to e-commerce.
  • The Snooki Story and how he took a chance on licensing for the first time when no one around him thought it was a good idea.
  • His decision to apply to be on Shark Tank, the process he went through, and what his appearance did for the growth of his business.
  • Rapid growth cash-flow challenges and how Pat overcame them.
  • The importance of having good people around when growing.
  • Ways to scale and grow creatively for success.
  • Mistakes Pat made or was perceived as making in scaling the business.
  • How kiosk business works and Pat’s thoughts on the current kiosk climate.
  • Pat’s advice for those beginning as entrepreneurs and his key tips to being prepared to succeed.

Transcription

Mark: Joe, Pat Yates is somebody that has been a friend of Quiet Light Brokerage for a long time and might have one of the broadest experiences in the world of physical products of people that I know. He sold everything from licensing products on retail, a whole kiosk business, e-commerce, and he was also on Shark Tank and you finally had him on the podcast where he can talk about some of the experiences that he’s had and what it’s like to grow a business that’s as popular as Happy Feet.

Joe: Yeah I know. Over the last six or seven years I’ve probably talked to maybe a dozen people that have been on Shark Tank and Pat I think has had probably the most success. He got a deal with Robert. He talks about the process, the presentation, preparing for it, a little bit … he goes back into how he started in Happy Feet in malls, in kiosks; really his father bought the business and he tells some great stories about Jersey Shore and meeting Snooki and how he took a risk and did a licensing deal with her. And then really talks about the success after Shark Tank and how to manage cash flows. And then we dipped a little bit into the back side of it because I was at a Blue Ribbon Mastermind last summer and somebody that has e-commerce product talked to somebody that does retail up on stage and whether they should try mall kiosks and things of that nature. And because Pat has a great deal of experience there we talked about that a little bit at the end in terms of how to go from e-commerce to retail and whether he thought the kiosk business was a good option.

Mark: I know every time I walked through a mall … a few years ago when I was walking through a mall I’d always come across one of his kiosks and his giant stuffed slippers which is what Happy Feet is right?

Joe: Yeah.

Mark: They’re these ridiculously oversized slippers and theyR

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