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

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern 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.

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