On Friday, Oct. 23, Kendra Scott makes her debut as a guest investor on ABC’s Shark Tank.
The name Kendra Scott has become synonymous with success. Her jewelry line has become a national phenomenon, second only to her entrepreneurial efforts. She can now add reality-TV star to her list of accomplishments. In late September, ABC announced the 12th season of their Emmy-nominated unscripted show Shark Tank. For the first time, the show heads to Las Vegas. And Kendra Scott was along for the ride as one of their guest Sharks.
It’s true, they really do things bigger in Texas.
On Thursday, Oct. 22, Scott, in conjunction with some of Austin’s most prominent businesses, lit up the Austin Skyline in yellow to commemorate her Shark Tank debut. This included a custom star display on the Fairmont Austin. As part of her celebrations, Scott made a charitable donation to Divinc. Austin. Scott’s entrepreneurial spirit is as well-known as her personal success. Her donation to Divinc. further exemplifies her dedication to supporting up-and-coming businesswomen and men in Austin.
After the ceremony, Scott answered a few questions for Austin Woman about her Shark Tank experience. She also spoke about her deep ardor for entrepreneurship.
How did the opportunity to be a guest Shark on Shark Tank come about?
I’ve been a fan of the show for years, so it’s been a dream of mine. I think the fire was really lit when I announced my Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute. It demonstrated that I have a passion for fueling other entrepreneurs with the tools and guidance they need to thrive. And Shark Tank took notice!
What is your approach to choosing companies you want to financially invest in?
I believe in investing in the founder first and the idea next. You have to have a daring, disruptive idea to make your business successful. But with the right founder behind the wheel, someone who has that relentless drive to see their passion through, I know they’ll stop at nothing to make their business succeed.
How do you feel you differ from the Sharks on the show?
I am the only female Guest Shark this season. So my personal experience as a female founder who built a company from my bedroom with $500 to a billion-dollar business, and all the struggles and triumphs it took to get there, is what I brought to the table.
Which Shark did you connect with the most?
Mark Cuban and I have the Texas roots connection, so we became pretty fast friends. Once I proved I could hold my own in the Tank, of course!
Was there a Shark you had more contentious interactions with?
I’ll tell you the same thing I told Kevin O’Leary when I first met him: I’m a velvet hammer. I may seem soft and sweet on the outside, but watch out. You never know when I’m going to strike. I’m fiercely competitive, and I have to admit that side of me came out in the Tank. But ultimately I had a great experience and have so much admiration for all of the Sharks.
What has been the most rewarding part of the Shark Tank experience?
I feel so much hope about the future of our country and of entrepreneurship after my time at Shark Tank. This year has been a difficult year for us all and for me personally. As a mother of three boys juggling homeschool, Zoom business meetings and finalizing a divorce this year, there were times when I let those stressors keep me from seeing the vision for what’s coming next. But the entrepreneurs I met in the Tank never lost sight of their vision. They blew me away with their passion and relentless drive to carry on with their dream, even in the face of great challenge.
What, if anything, did the Shark Tank/broadcast experience teach you?
Every second in the Tank is a valuable experience in front of some of the greatest minds in business, offering you real-time insights and advice. I learned so much from being in the room with Mark, Kevin, Lori and Barbara. So it was a reminder that advice, and inspiration, can come from anywhere.
Did being on Shark Tank give you any aspirations of running your own pitching competition? Or starting your own program for budding entrepreneurs?
I already have! Last year, I worked with The University of Texas at Austin to bring my dream of the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute to life. This year, we’re taking that a step further with our inaugural Women’s Summit next month. Arming young female entrepreneurs with tools to combat financial, cultural or personal barriers they may face in the world of business.
How did you connect with Divinc. Austin? Are there plans for further collaborations?
I believe in the power of mentorship, and I love what Shark Tank has done to give entrepreneurs a leg up in the business world. In partnership with all of the buildings that helped light the skyline yellow in honor of the Shark Tank premiere, we knew we also wanted to give back to a local organization that supports the entrepreneur community here in Austin. It was a natural fit to partner with Divinc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, who supports underrepresented founders and entrepreneurs in Austin, who we have worked with many times before! I am thrilled to be supporting them!
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who have aspirations of trying out for Shark Tank?
First, find something you love. Don’t just start a business for the money or success, but tap into a very real, unquenchable passion for your idea. That’s what will make you a driven founder. Next, practice being agile. A flexible plan and the ability to respond to challenges ahead will help you make quick and necessary changes that let your business grow. And last, stay true to your core values. Now more than ever, customers are gravitating toward businesses with an authentic heart. Lean into who you are and what makes you unique, and let that remain your focus.
Be sure to tune in to ABC at 7 p.m. CST tonight for Kendra Scott’s Shark Tank debut.