How do you give the people of Los Angeles a taste of New England? Simple: you buy a food truck and sell authentic, mouthwatering Maine lobster rolls.
At least, that's what Sabin Lomac and Jim Tselikis, Co-Founders of Cousins Maine Lobster, did.
A few months into their business, they went on Shark Tank, securing a deal with the one and only Barbara Corcoran. She forked over $55,000 for a 5% piece of the action.
Now, one lonely food truck turned into a fleet of fifty, and Los Angeles became one of thirty locations where you can grab a lobster roll on wheels.
How did they make it happen? It all boils down (put intended) to their simple, yet incredibly powerful mantra: "Prepare Well, Work Hard."
Let's take a look at how they put it into action.
Before Entering the Shark Tank: "Prepare Well"
Lomac describes Cousins Maine Lobster as "a passion project." In the early days, he wasn't planning to move to Los Angeles full-time. Both he and Tselikis weren't planning to quit their jobs. In fact, when they bought their first food truck, their only goal was to break even.
Then, Shark Tank called.
It was the push they needed to go all in. But, fully aware of their relative inexperience as business owners, Lomac and Tselikis knew they had to prepare.
Here are a few unconventional ways they prepared for Shark Tank:
- Watched 60+ episodes and wrote down the most commonly asked questions on index cards.
- Practiced their pitch in the mirror while the other person tried to distract them. "As ridiculous as it could possibly get, we were trying to do it," said Sabin.
- Role-played as different sharks and grilled each other with questions.
- Went for runs to get their heart rate up.
- Decided to target a specific shark. One shark stood out from the rest in their research of the show: Barbara Corcoran. Tselikis said, "She's available for us 24/7, always has been, and that's why we targeted her. We felt she would be like that, and some of the producers indicated that. Very maternal, kind, loving, funny."
All that research and preparation paid off, with Sabin and Tselikis landing a $50,000+ deal with Barbara. But the hard work was just beginning.
After Leaving the Shark Tank: "Work Hard"
"[Shark Tank] gives you an opportunity, but it doesn't guarantee success. You wake up the next day or week or month, that's when the hard work starts. You have a target on your back. Nine, ten million people have seen this. So, we did everything we could to make it tick," said Lomac.
In 2014, two years after their appearance on Shark Tank, they started franchising Cousins Maine Lobster — an idea from Barbara.
Nine years later, Cousins Maine Lobster has more than 50 food trucks nationwide and seven restaurants. They also founded Cousins for a Cause, a non-profit that partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to give back to local communities.
Putting It All Together: "Prepare Well, Work Hard"
When asked what advice they would give to entrepreneurs looking to secure a deal on Shark Tank, their message was simple: get ready to work.
"If you go on the show really wanting a deal, get ready for the work because if you don't want to work, you don't want long days, late nights, or early mornings, you're wasting your time. It's really just the start," said Lomac.