First and foremost – what motivates you daily?
To build Tipsy Elves into a nationally-recognized brand and to bring fun, joy, and laughter into our customer’s lives.
I think you’re well on your way with some of those goals! But let’s start from the beginning: why did you start Tipsy Elves?
We wanted the freedom. We were tired of working in our normal 9-5 jobs (which were often more like 8am-8pm). We believed we were capable of more, saw a need in the market place, and went for it.
Absolutely. Successful businesses always fill a need in the market. Let’s talk about your unforgettable Shark Tank experience. What are the top three lessons you learned?
- Nick: It’s very valuable to have a mentor and advisor like you to help point us in the right direction. This is especially helpful when it comes to high-level business decisions, such as whether or not to go year-round or I should quit my job as a dentist.
- Evan: We also learned the power of advertising. We received a very big bump from the airing which has continued to pay dividends since. On the flip side, we learned that it is very important to capture those new eyes from Shark Tank so the momentum can be harnessed in the future. We feel we’ve done a good job of that.
- Nick: Lastly, we’ve learned that it’s important to be likable and easy to work with. We’ve found great success with you, the Shark Tank people, and many other relationships by not overcomplicating things. We focus on bringing value to both people or groups in everything we do instead of only what is best for us and feel it’s served us very well.
I definitely agree with the last point – always keep it simple! How did you know that this is what you wanted to do?
Nick: Evan and I knew when we caught ourselves thinking about Tipsy Elves every hour of every day instead of about law or dentistry, respectively.
Some would say that Tipsy Elves have found success after Shark Tank. So what metrics have you used to measure success? How do you define your success?
Nick: We have a lot of measures. Evan and I feel successful already in that we’ve been able to quit our full-time jobs to focus on Tipsy Elves. However that is not enough for what we want. We also consider the number of employees Tipsy Elves is able to support. Currently, we have 16 full-time employees (and growing!) who depend on us and to be able to pay them and support them and their families is very gratifying. It’s also important for us to be able to have fun and bring enjoyment to our customers. Lastly, we understand that revenues and profits are possibly the ultimate measure of success so we always keep an eye on that.
It’s always nice to realize your business can fully support you and your employees, isn’t it? Did you find there is a price for success? What sacrifices have you made to achieve yours?
The main sacrifice is that there is more stress when it comes to having so many people rely on every decision. There have also been times when the business has taken time away from family and friends. When a business needs you, you have to be there. There are less party nights or happy hours because we are committed to working on the business. They don’t feel like sacrifices though because we love Tipsy Elves so much that we’d both rather be working on the business than doing some of those things. Plus we have a Nintendo Wii, shuffleboard, and a kegerator in the office so that helps too
Awesome – At Herjavec Group we followed your lead and just put in a new games room!
Every entrepreneur has failed at one time or another. Tell me about a time where you’ve failed and how you learned from that experience.
Nick: We had major issues this past holiday season with our fulfillment company. They fell way behind on shipping orders during the busiest time of year for us which caused a major backlash from customers and cost us over $1M in profit due to returns and cancellations. We learned that you can never take anything for granted and need to have extreme diligence in every aspect of the business even those areas that seem very safe or reliable. Ask yourself: if a certain aspect of your business were to fail, what will you do? How could that happen and what safe guards can you take to prevent those big issues? We didn’t ask ourselves that question enough with regards to fulfillment before this season. Also when possible, don’t be the guinea pig for any service provider. Let them practice on other companies.
Wow ! Lost $1 million in profit – a painful but important lesson. Tell me about your biggest sales hurdle that you’ve had to overcome and what did you do to reach the next level?
Evan: Our biggest hurdle would be to change from a Christmas-only company to a year-round company. We do feel we will fully achieve that in 2016 with all of the different categories we are about to launch. To do this, we are dedicated to putting a laser focus on that goal and making sure that everything we make elevates the experience someone will have if they wear the product. We also want to expand our team – after all, you can’t do everything alone. We’ve followed your advice of surrounding ourselves with amazing people who are better at certain things than we are. It’s definitely helped us scale our business and we’re confident that it will continue to grow!
Excellent! How does the future look for you? What is one significant goal you’re striving to achieve?
Nick: We really want to be the #1 destination for everyone who likes to have a good time. If someone is going to any event, party, gathering we want them to know that Tipsy Elves can find them a product that will make them stand out, get noticed and make people laugh. You know, just overall have a much better time than if they wore the same old clothes they would normally wear. We want people to recognize that Tipsy Elves is synonymous with fun and that the best way to have fun at any event is to wear Tipsy Elves clothing. We certainly feel like we are headed in the right direction!