We love catching up with past Shark Tank contestants to hear about post-Shark Tank life and what it’s really like in the boardroom with the Sharks. This week we sat down with Daniel Rensing, who co-founded The Smart Baker in 2009 with his wife Stephanie. Daniel took time out of his busy post-Shark Tank life to tell us what he and Stephanie are up to now, and how their life has changed since appearing on the show…
You and Stephanie developed a line of helpful kitchen products after spending a lot of time in the kitchen. What’s your signature recipe?
It’s hard to say, we love ourselves some blondies (vanilla brownies). We never just have plain ice cream anymore, so blondies are the perfect base for sundaes.
What made you decide to apply for Shark Tank?
I did it on a whim when Stephanie was in the kitchen baking. Really, I was just interested in seeing if they were doing another season, so I came across one of the casting people’s email addresses and I sent an email saying we wanted to be on if there was another season. Steph said “no no no, don’t do that,” but two weeks later I got a phone call one evening asking if we were really interested!
Can you sum up your application process in 3 words?
Full of anxiety
Before you went on Shark Tank, what were The Smart Baker’s sales like?
As the time we weren’t really doing much. Maybe $20-30K in sales a year, which happened mostly during holiday time. We started off with the apron in “Food Network Magazine,” which kicked things off. Stephanie was still in grad school, and I had another job, so at the time we were happy to see one order come through a day. We started growing a little more, and were even growing during the application process. We still weren’t that big, though.
Before you went on the show, was there a particular Shark you most wanted to make a deal with? Why?
As you can probably tell, Barbara. Both Steph and I had a copy of her book “If You Don’t Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on your Pigtails.” If I had a second option, it would’ve been Mark because of his web stuff and because we wanted to focus on e-commerce. But we mainly liked Barbara because of her success with Daisy Cakes and Pork Barrel BBQ.
Did any of the Sharks scare you?
No, but I cant speak for Steph… she’s always a nervous wreck [laughs]. I was most concerned about making sure I knew the answers for every question that could be asked. “O’Leary is the Simon Cowell of Shark Tank” was in the back of my mind, but not a huge concern.
You and Stephanie were seeking $75,000 for 25% of your business. How did you arrive at that valuation?
We literally took our sales (I’m not big on projections because you never know what’s gonna happen). We were 100% honest with what was happening at the time we were filming. We saw how sales were increasing, looked at about 1.5-2x gross, and as Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary) said, we were spot-on with our valuation.
Barbara and Daymond both wanted a piece of your company—did you think you’d get two offers?
Not really. I don’t even know if we went in there expecting any offer! We just didn’t know if it was up anybody’s alley.
How did you decide which Shark to go with?
We went with Barbara for her female mind (based on our target consumer) and because she could help with making any tweaks, if needed, to fit that target. She had involvement in the food industry too, so it just seemed like a natural fit.
Why kind of public reaction have you received since the show aired?
It’s been good. National TV exposure is great for any business. We’ve gotten in peoples’ minds for weddings and parties with our displays, and the aprons are great as gift items. It’s great that now [wholesalers and sales reps]are contacting us now, instead of vice versa.