Meet the LA Startup Founder Who Had Two Hours To Prep Her 'Shark Tank' Pitch

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

Meet the LA Startup Founder Who Had Two Hours To Prep Her 'Shark Tank' Pitch
Photo courtesy of Curie

One Sunday afternoon last September, Sarah Moret was hiking through Griffith Observatory when she received a voicemail from the producer of “Shark Tank,” ABC’s hit entrepreneurial reality show. The voice message notified her that she had just two hours to get to the “Shark Tank” studio and pitch Curie, her aluminum-free deodorant brand, to the show’s “Sharks”—its panel of investor judges featuring Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John and Kevin O'Leary.


"I just jumped in the car; my fiancé was driving, and he brought me home as fast as possible in the carpool lane," Moret told dot.LA. "I curled my hair, got ready in 20 minutes and did my makeup in the passenger seat of his car for a primetime TV show."

Sarah Moret at the top of her hike, moments before she received a call from the producers of "Shark Tank."

Photo courtesy of Curie

Moret first applied to be on “Shark Tank” in 2020, but didn't receive a callback. She heard back from the show after reapplying the following year, with initial plans to film in July—but the producers bumped her filming date and put her on standby until September.

"I compare it to being like an understudy in a play," she explained. "I didn't have a set filming date. I was just told that I would get a phone call if there was space in the schedule for me to film.”

But Moret was confident she had a product worth waiting for, and the entrepreneurial know-how to scale it into a successful business. Most conventional antiperspirants in the market are made out of aluminum that can cause armpit irritation; while there are natural, aluminum-free deodorant brands, Moret said they also irritated her skin or left her smelling like a gym bag. Curie, her solution to these problems, uses sage oil and probiotics to beat the stink, arrowroot powder to absorb the sweat, and chamomile and aloe to soothe the armpits.

Prior to launching Curie in 2018, Moret worked as an associate at Santa Monica-based venture capital firm Crosscut Ventures, where she earned a spot on the investing team. There, she learned the ins and outs of the startup world.

“Curie started from a personal need,” Moret said. “I'm an athlete and at the time was a marathon runner, and just couldn't find anything that worked.”

Curie generated revenues of $125,000 in its first year of selling deodorant sticks. The following year, the startup had $700,000 in sales. At the start of 2020, she raised $1 million through a convertible note capped at $5 million to continue growing the brand. It has gradually expanded its product offerings to include body wash, moisturizing body oil, a detox mask and hand sanitizers.

Before appearing on “Shark Tank,” Curie’s body products were already sold in over 300 stores nationwide including Nordstrom, Anthropologie and fitness gym Soulcycle. It had also frequently appeared on shopping network QVC.

Fast forward to September 2021, and Moret finally entered “the Tank” with her eyes set on Corcoran and Greiner. She wanted to make a deal with one or both of them because, as Moret put it, “I just gravitate towards female investors or founders.”

Curie's line of deodorant sprays in three scents. Photo courtesy of Curie

When Moret’s episode of “Shark Tank” finally aired last month, she was surprised to find herself the first one up. Moret confidently introduced Curie on national television without a hint of sweat on her face or dirt from the hiking trail. She charmed the Sharks with her background and solid numbers—her opening pitch was for a $300,000 investment in exchange for a 5% equity stake—but four out of the five Sharks didn’t bite, saying she had raised too much money early on and had too many products.

This wasn’t new to Moret: Her first efforts at pitching Nordstrom and QVC had been rebuffed as well. “Rejection is a part of being an entrepreneur,” she said. “You're always going to get no’s; you can't let those no’s stop you or discourage you.”

It all came down to the final Shark, Daymond. When he produced an offer—$300,000 for 20% equity—that Moret deemed too low, she shot back: “I know my worth, I know the company's worth and I'm not backing down.”

After Moret countered with $300,000 for 12% equity, Cuban and Corcoran combined on an offer of $300,000 in exchange for 14% equity. Moret took the deal, as Cuban quipped: “I never thought I would be in a women’s deodorant business, ever.”

After the show aired, Curie sold out all of its deodorant products in 24 hours and now has some 5,000 customers on its waitlist. Moret said the company has plans to roll out further products, but supply chain issues have impacted their progress.

“Our biggest hurdle right now is just getting back in stock quickly, so we can get people their deodorant,” she said.

🤠Musk Picks Texas and 🔥Tinder AI Picks Your Profile Pictures
Image Source: Tinder

🔦 Spotlight

Tinder is altering dating profile creation with its new AI-powered Photo Selector feature, designed to help users choose their most appealing dating profile pictures. This innovative tool employs facial recognition technology to curate a set of up to 10 photos from the user's device, streamlining the often time-consuming process of profile setup. To use the feature, users simply take a selfie within the Tinder app and grant access to their camera roll. The AI then analyzes the photos based on factors like lighting and composition, drawing from Tinder's research on what makes an effective profile picture.

The selection process occurs entirely on the user's device, ensuring privacy and data security. Tinder doesn't collect or store any biometric data or photos beyond those chosen for the profile, and the facial recognition data is deleted once the user exits the feature. This new tool addresses a common pain point for users, as Tinder's research shows that young singles typically spend about 25 to 33 minutes selecting a profile picture. By automating this process, Tinder aims to reduce profile creation time and allow users to focus more on making meaningful connections.

In wholly unrelated news, Elon Musk has announced plans to relocate the headquarters of X (formerly Twitter) and SpaceX from California to Texas. SpaceX will move from Hawthorne to Starbase, while X will shift from San Francisco to Austin. Musk cited concerns about aggressive drug users near X's current headquarters and a new California law regarding gender identity notification in schools as reasons for the move. This decision follows Musk's previous relocation of Tesla's headquarters to Texas in 2021.

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  • Penguin Random House agreed to acquire comic book publisher Boom! Studios from backers like Walt Disney Co. - learn more

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Top LA Accelerators that Entrepreneurs Should Know About

Los Angeles, has a thriving startup ecosystem with numerous accelerators, incubators, and programs designed to support and nurture new businesses. These programs provide a range of services, including funding, mentorship, workspace, networking opportunities, and strategic guidance to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas and scale their companies.


Techstars Los Angeles

Techstars is a global outfit with a chapter in Los Angeles that opened in 2017. It prioritizes local companies but will fund some firms based outside of LA.

Location: Culver City

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, early stage

Focus: Industry Agnostic

Notable Past Companies: StokedPlastic, Zeno Power


Grid110

Grid110 offers no-cost, no-equity programs for entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, including a 12-week Residency accelerator for early-stage startups, an Idea to Launch Bootcamp for pre-launch entrepreneurs, and specialized programs like the PledgeLA Founders Fund and Friends & Family program, all aimed at providing essential skills, resources, and support to help founders develop and grow their businesses.

Location: DTLA

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage

Focus: Industry Agnostic

Notable Past Companies: Casetify, Flavors From Afar


Idealab

Idealab is a renowned startup studio and incubator based in Pasadena, California. Founded in 1996 by entrepreneur Bill Gross, Idealab has a long history of nurturing innovative technology companies, with over 150 startups launched and 45 successful IPOs and acquisitions, including notable successes like Coinbase and Tenor.

Location: Pasadena

Type of Funding: Stage agnostic

Focus: Industry Agnostic, AI/Robotics, Consumer, Clean Energy

Notable Past Companies: Lumin, Coinbase, Tenor


Plug In South LA

Plug In South LA is a tech accelerator program focused on supporting and empowering Black and Latinx entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area. The 12-week intensive program provides early-stage founders with mentorship, workshops, strategic guidance, potential pilot partnerships, grant funding, and networking opportunities to help them scale their businesses and secure investment.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed

Focus: Industry Agnostic, Connection to South LA and related communities

Notable Past Companies: ChargerHelp, Peadbo


Cedars-Sinai Accelerator

The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator is a three-month program based in Los Angeles that provides healthcare startups with $100,000 in funding, mentorship from over 300 leading clinicians and executives, and access to Cedars-Sinai's clinical expertise and resources. The program aims to transform healthcare quality, efficiency, and care delivery by helping entrepreneurs bring their innovative technology products to market, offering participants dedicated office space, exposure to a broad network of healthcare entrepreneurs and investors, and the opportunity to pitch their companies at a Demo Day.

Location: West Hollywood

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage, convertible note

Focus: Healthcare, Device, Life Sciences

Notable Past Companies: Regard, Hawthorne Effect


MedTech Innovator

MedTech Innovator is the world's largest accelerator for medical technology companies, based in Los Angeles, offering a four-month program that provides selected startups with unparalleled access to industry leaders, investors, and resources without taking equity. The accelerator culminates in showcase events and competitions where participating companies can win substantial non-dilutive funding, with the program having a strong track record of helping startups secure FDA approvals and significant follow-on funding.

Location: Westwood

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage

Focus: Health Care, Health Diagnostics, Medical Device

Notable Past Companies: Zeto, Genetesis


KidsX

The KidsX Accelerator in Los Angeles is a 10-week program that supports early-stage digital health companies focused on pediatric care, providing mentorship, resources, and access to a network of children's hospitals to help startups validate product-market fit and scale their solutions. The accelerator uses a reverse pitch model, where participating hospitals identify focus areas and work closely with selected startups to develop and pilot digital health solutions that address specific pediatric needs.

Location: East Hollywood

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed, early stage

Focus: Pediatric Health Care Innovation

Notable Past Companies: Smileyscope, Zocalo Health


Disney Accelerator

Disney Accelerator is a startup accelerator that provides early-stage companies in the consumer media, entertainment and technology sectors with mentorship, guidance, and investment from Disney executives. The program, now in its 10th year, aims to foster collaborations and partnerships between innovative technology companies and The Walt Disney Company to help them accelerate their growth and bring new experiences to Disney audiences.

Location: Burbank

Type of Funding: Growth stage

Focus: Technology and entertainment

Notable Past Companies: Epic Games, BRIT + CO, CAMP


Techstars Space Accelerator

Techstars Space Accelerator is a startup accelerator program focused on advancing the next generation of space technology companies. The three-month mentorship-driven program brings together founders from across the globe to work on big ideas in aerospace, including rapid launch services, precision-based imaging, operating systems for complex robotics, in-space servicing, and thermal protection.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Growth stage

Focus: Aerospace

Notable Past Companies: Pixxel, Morpheus Space



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🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.


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