australiabusinessblog.com Elevator Pitch is the show where contestants get into an elevator and have only 60 seconds to pitch their business. Our board of investors is watching, and if they like what they hear, they open the doors and the australiabusinessblog.com steps into the boardroom to try and close the deal. If they don’t like what they hear, the australiabusinessblog.com will be sent back.
It’s fun, it’s intense, and in this ongoing series of articles, we celebrate the entrepreneurs who walked away with a win and share their tips for pitching success.
Who are you and what is your company?
Hi, I’m Sheena Jongeneel, CEO and co-founder of stylet, the kidswear rental platform that is revolutionizing the future of fashion. Our sustainable approach to style keeps kids looking their best and parents spending less, while clothes stay in use and out of landfill. From high fashion to cool and casual, we rent curated collections for special occasions, but also for everyday fun.
I’ve been an australiabusinessblog.com all my life, including two health and wellness companies, each with a successful exit. I have a masters degree in medicine and an MBA, but most importantly I am a single mother of an eight year old girl so I really understand the need for our service. Children grow so fast, and their tastes change so quickly, often while that expensive must-have item is forgotten in the closet. Stylette is here to solve that problem!
Related: Watch Sheena’s winning pitch
How did you prepare for the show?
Wow, that’s such a crazy story! I literally heard on a Monday that a spot was opening up on the show for the next day. I had just attended a Women’s Venture Summit in San Diego and Kim Perrell’s book was in the event gift bag. I had her e-mail, so I quickly left a note saying that I had seen that she was a judge on australiabusinessblog.com Elevator Pitch, and that I would love to be on the show.
I thought maybe sometime later in the season, but the production team emailed back the same day at 2pm asking if I could be in Florida by 7am the next morning. As an australiabusinessblog.com you say yes and go for it! I threw some stuff in a carry-on, called my ex to let him know to take care of our daughter, and got in a car to the airport. I missed the 4pm flight by minutes and ended up on the red eye of Los Angeles.
Related: What Do You Do If An Investor Suddenly Changes Terms Halfway Through The Deal?
Well, over 2,000 miles, and too many cups of coffee later, I was on set! I used the five hours on the plane to practice my 60 second pitch. I used the timer on my phone to go around the field in my head – or maybe I said it out loud as the passengers kept staring around me. Needless to say, I had zero sleep and not nearly as much prep as I would have liked, but I knew my product and the company inside out and just spoke from the heart. It was the perfect mix of adrenaline, exhaustion, excitement and maybe a little too much caffeine.
What did you think was going to happen? What was different from your expectations?
I like to go into situations thoroughly prepared, maybe even over-prepared, which allows me to focus on the best possible outcome, but the timeline was so compressed here that I had to delay it a bit. Other than Kim, I didn’t know much about the judges, so when I got the email from the production team, I read the most recent episodes and read up on the other judges.
From that moment on I knew I wanted to work with Marc Randolph. We were scaling Stylette to a subscription model and I thought his experience with Netflix would be perfect for us. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, or how I was going to get there, but as I started running through all the possible synergies in my mind, I knew I needed Marc on board. Some of the questions from the other judges were very intense and I felt some doubt creep up, but in the end I think they all wanted to support Marc and Stylette in this collaboration!
Why do you think they opened the doors?
A solid pitch is the only thing that opens those doors. Mine may have been made on a red eye, but I know the brand and numbers by heart. A lot of pitching is a formula – who you are, your background, the product, how it works, demand and returns – but nothing can replace the passion and excitement you feel for your own product. The valuation was fair, especially in today’s market, and I had a great offer.
How did the negotiations go? Would you do something different?
Yes, I was planning on negotiating Marc’s offer to get his valuation higher (we closed a $250,000 deal with a $4.5 million limit), but my adrenaline was pumping and I was just so excited. He said yes. I said yes. And then it was yesses everywhere. We shook hands, hugged – it’s really hard not to get lost at that point – and it wasn’t until I got back in the elevator that I realized I hadn’t negotiated the appraisal. I wanted to go back in, but that’s for an offline chat now. The bottom line is that Marc Randolph said yes to me!
What do you plan to do with your investment?
This new partnership enables us to scale up the company and take Stylette to the next level. One of the benefits of a high-profile capital investment like this is that it helps attract other investors. Our immediate expenses will be on technology and key hires, and in the future we will develop strategies with Marc to build our network of angels, investors and advisors.
What did it mean to you personally to come in and walk out with a win?
As a first-generation American, Latina founder, and single mom, I’ve had to work very hard as an australiabusinessblog.com to network and build relationships. Stylette has grown organically from my own experiences, but not without overcoming obstacles along the way. I felt that every little success, every little triumph not only moved me forward, but kept me as an example for people like me who could follow in my footsteps. Leaving australiabusinessblog.com Elevator Pitch with a win has been my greatest achievement, reinforcing the idea that other people believe in me and are willing to support me.
Related: Here’s The Difference Between A Pitch That Returns A $100,000 Investment And A Pitch That Returns $0
But even more than that, it meant everything to me that my daughter could see me win. She’s been my biggest cheerleader, from the beginning when she helped me practice my MBA PowerPoint presentations, to my one support call before I hit the elevator to pitch. She reminded me to enunciate because she knows when I get excited my brain moves too fast to get the words out. And she also reminded me, without saying it, that I’m doing this for her as much as I do for myself. This entrepreneurial journey has been long and rewarding, but not always easy and not always smooth. I think we both needed this win, and it felt great to be able to share it with her… and everyone watching the show.
What’s your advice to anyone thinking of signing up for a future episode?
Well, definitely try to give yourself a bit more lead time than I had, and if you do get a call, don’t think too much about it because it might make you nervous! Then remember to follow the formula when you make your pitch: introduce yourself, state the name of your company and your slogan, describe your product and put together a well-thought-out question stating your appreciation and how you plan to spend the money to use . Sixty seconds go by really fast, so relax, don’t forget to breathe, have fun and, as my daughter says, articulate.