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Mom Inventor Gets $50,000 on ‘Shark Tank’

Tiffany Krummins and Ava the ElephantIf you were offered $50,000 for a 55% stake in your business on a national TV show, would you take it? Watching Tiffany Krummins mull over the offer from real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran on Sunday night's episode of Shark Tank, it was tough to tell what she was going to decide. But after a tense few minutes, Tiffany decided to go for it, sealing the deal with a hug and getting the funding she needed to start the patenting and prototyping process for her children's medicine dispensing product, Ava the Elephant.

Tiffany, who has worked with special needs children as a nanny for 10 years and  also volunteers at a hospital, had the idea for her product a year ago when working with a boy with Down Syndrome who frequently had to take medicine for ear infections. Ava the Elephant was created to making taking medicine fun by having the cartoon elephant speak to the child getting the medicine, squirt the medicine out of her trunk and praise the child afterward.

It's been a busy year for Tiffany -- the Auburn, Georgia, mom developed her idea while she was pregnant and still working. Shortly after her daughter was born in August, she saw a Craigslist post that led her to audition for Shark Tank. She filmed her episode in California in January, and shortly after was diagnosed with cancer, but the 29-year-old inventor-entrepreneur has continued to work on bringing her product to market during surgery, recovery and radiation.

Sunday, when her episode of Shark Tank aired (view the episode on ABC.com), she launched the Ava the Elephant website and started selling her product to the public. And this past week, she took the time to share her story with us...

What was it like to be on Shark Tank?

Tiffany presenting her invention on Shark Tank

Tiffany presenting her invention on Shark Tank

This show is about as real as reality TV gets -- you are really pitching your business idea to investors, one time, and that's it. You wait until your turn, you go into the set and you stand on camera in front of five very successful people and you have one shot at it. There are no "Can I start overs?" You either ace it or you don't. At that point the investors decide if they have interest in your product. If they do, the negotiations start. They can all turn you down, or two or three of them may be interested and "fight" over the percentages they would get. It's a yes or no thing, not a competition.

What was going through your mind as you received the $50,000 offer on the show? Were you concerned about giving up the majority share?

Honestly, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Since the judges were so harsh to so many before me that day filming, I was sure that at any second they were going to let me have it! I was not concerned about giving up the majority share. If I had said no, I could have tried to produce the product myself and would never have sold the amount I will sell with Barbara's know-how, connections and help. I am not a greedy person and wanted to see my product on shelves no matter what I had to give up, and I did not think I could get a better deal.

I knew what kind of business woman Barbara is and knew that she sticks to her guns. I was excited but wanted to think it over before I spoke. I am a very fast talking and thinking person and I had to force myself to stop and think.

How did you finance your business before Shark Tank?

I got creative: I thought my husband would make a great Frankenstein so I asked if he would let me transform him for Halloween & try to win some money in the local contests. I sewed a very large costume, shoes, etc, it took months. We entered two here in Atlanta and won first in one, for $5,000, and second in another, for $500. I used that money to fund the beginning of my product.

I made my first Ava from sponges and fabric. When given the chance to pitch my idea, I made five models out of clay.

What were you able to accomplish with the $50,000 from the show?

I was able to patent, manufacture and bring my product to market with $50,000. That is another plus to having a wonderful mentor like Barbara -- you then have connections that money can't buy. It allows you to save money in a lot of ways. Just the advertising from the show is priceless.

How involved has Barbara been in your business?

She is very involved! She is there when I need help, but never steps on my toes. We talk daily, and she and I have become very fond of each other.

What were the other competitors on the show like?

Tiffany Krummins with her husband, Igor, and daughter, Annabelle

Tiffany Krummins with her husband, Igor, and daughter, Annabelle

I met the most creative, amazing people while there. That was the great part about it -- you weren't competing, so everyone became very friendly and supportive. However, we weren't allowed to speak about our business or invention in any way, so none of us knew what the other was doing. Once you pitch, you leave immediately.

What did you do while waiting to present?

I prayed a lot and practiced my pitch a lot. We were all in one huge area and we looked hilarious. We were all pacing around, going over our pitches -- over and over and over again.

How did you find out about Shark Tank, and what was the auditioning process like?

I found the casting call on Craigslist, and the auditioning process was very long. After months of paperwork, and speaking and meeting with producers, I got the final go-ahead about two weeks before I had to fly to California to film.

What are your initial goals for Ava the Elephant?

I tend to dream big so I picture giving an Ava to every sick child in the hospital. The children I worked with are my inspiration and keep me going -- remembering those children in the hospital reminds me of how much I want to be successful and help them one day.

Have you brought on any other people to help manage your business since the show?

We brought on an amazing website designer, Tim, with Out think group. I have been handling everything myself, but now that the show premiered and people are so interested that will change in the near future.

Would you recommend going on Shark Tank to other mom inventors and entrepreneurs?

Yes! In this day and age there are multiple ways to get things going -- if you are given an opportunity like this run with it. But only do it if you really believe in your product. If you would hesitate for one second to purchase your product if it were someone else's then it may not be right.


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30 Responses »

  1. Dear Tiffany: You are a wonder! Did you know that President Reagan went secretly to Germany to overcome his cancer? The U.S. cancer recovery record is still abominable compared to the very high success rate in Germany.
    Look into it whatever the progress of your breast cancer. You deserve no less. Bless you my child!
    === Rev. Al Lehman, Melbourne Beach, FL LehmanArt@aol.com

  2. HEY TIFF I WANTED TO SAY CONGRADS ON UR PRODUCT AND I PRAY THAT CANCER GOES AWAY. I THINK ITS WONDERFUL WHAT U ARE DOING AND THE STRENGTH U HAVE IS UNBELIEVABLE. YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION AND I AM DEFINITELY STARTING MY OWN INVENTION BECAUSE OF THIS STORY. IT BROUGHT TEARS TO MY EYES.... I WOULD LIKE TO FURTHER MY JOURNEY BY GOING ON THE SHOW ALSO SO IF U HAVE ANY ADVICE OR INFO ON HOW I CAN ENTER PLEASE EMAIL ME AT YUNIQUE125@NETSCAPE.NET.... THANKS LOVE MUCH SUCCESS TO YOU AND UR FAMILY!!!!!

  3. HI TIFFANY MY NAME IS ROMEO I AM WORKING ON A INVENTION THE HELPS PEOPLE PICK FRUIT FROM THERE TREE.I SEE YOU ARE DOING BUSINESS WITH GREATER CHINA.I HAVE A QUESTION TO ASK .YOU GOT $50,000 FROM BARBARA TO GET THE PATENT AND START THE MANUFACTURING.COULD YOU HAVE DID THIS WITH ONLY $10,000.I AM THINKING THAT IF I DONT GO ON A SHOW LIKE SHARK TANK AND GET $50,000 AND GIVE UP 55% THEN THERE IS NO WAY I WOULD BE ABLE TO GET THIS THING STARTED.HOW MUCH GOT USED FOR YOUR PATENT AND THEN HOW MANY UNITS DID YOU START WITH.COULD YOU HAVE STARTED BY DOING THIS ONLINE MAKE SOME MONEY THEN TAKE YOUR PROFITS AND THEN MOVE INTO THE STORES.

  4. Tiffany,

    I saw the initial 'Shark Tank' and the episode with the update on Ava just tonight.

    I am so happy for your much deserved success. You are obviously a very caring
    and giving person, and it warmed my heart to see your story.

    I hope you realize your dream of an Ava for all of your sick children
    but I believe you already give more than you maybe even know.

    To Your Continued Health and Success!

    God Bless

    • Jennifer,
      You made my day, thank you for the kind words and encouragement! It has been a difficult few weeks with the stress being a one woman show! I will keep pushing through as I know it is God's plan for me to help children! May God bless you and yours!

      Tiffany Krumins

  5. Read your story and message board. Very moved. Giving all credit to God is right. You obviously love what you do and you aren't greedy. Barbara chose well! Congratulations.

  6. Hi Tiffany,

    I'm so glad to hear about your good fortune with Ava and glad your health has improved. You deserve the best. I have so many questions to ask you, mainly your best advice to get on shark tank. I wrote Barbara a letter asking if she could possibly help me get on. I'm very excited about my coupon organizer and hope when she gets time she will call me.

    Thank you,
    Terri Walcott

  7. Tamara,
    I am happy to say that I have reached a new level of success with AVA THE ELEPHANT! She is officially in CVS Pharmacy nationwide! I wanted to speak with you about a few things but could not find your email address from previous contact. Hope to hear from you soon! Thank you all for the support and encouragement!
    Tiffany Krumins

  8. this is such a wonderful product and so is the inventor! So happy for you, Tiffany!

  9. Tiffany,

    Thank you for checking in with us and providing us with the wonderful news!!!

    We're sending you big hugs!

    Warmest,

    Tamara

  10. Ladies, Ladies, Ladies.... I wanted to update everyone on the wonderful few months I have had! Not only am I feeling better after cancer treatments but Ava is really taking off! She is going to be on BabiesRUs.com soon!!! I am thankful for all of the support and if there is anything I can do to help any of you please let me know. Tamara helped me from the beginning and I hope I can one day be in their position to help! God bless you all!

    • Tiffany,

      I am sooo excited for you! What a fantastic, amazing accomplishment.

      I have so many questions as I just launched my own product THE SIPPY STRAW CLEANER.

      http://www.strawcleaner.com

      I would love to pick your brain for 5 minutes if you have the time...

      Jennifer
      sales@strawcleaner.com

    • I just found this website. It is WONDERFUL!!! Thank you Tamara for creating it! Tiffany, I saw you on Shark Tank. It is my favorite show and I hope they bring it back ASAP! I think Barbara is extraordinary and must be an absolute delight to have in your life. I was so excited for you when you took the deal! I think your product is amazing! I'm going ot order one for my new granddaughter!

      I just had my patent application filed and am now patent pending. My product is not for kids, or even moms specifically, but an apparatus and method for preserving and storing a food product that supports the product's current packaging--a simple to make, silly little plastic thingy....

      I do not know where to go from here now that I am patent pending. I would prefer licensing to manufacturing, but am open to both. I also do not know if I should license to one entity or multiple, etc.

      Can you help?

      My very best to everyone on this site! I can be reached via email at mpatters65@gmail.com

      happy inventing!!!

  11. Congratulations!!! I am so happy for you because you made your dream a reality! Your story is very inspirational to me and other Mothers to keep believing and our dreams will come true too. Good Luck and I can't wait to receive your product. :)

  12. Hi Tiffany,

    Thanks for the update! We look forward to hearing the details as they unfold. Please keep us posted.

    Warmest,

    Tamara

  13. I am happy to update that things have been moving right along for Ava the Elephant! We are in talks with multiple companies as to where we may end up....stay tuned! I give all the glory to God! Tiffany

  14. Hi Gabby,

    I'm not aware of any other alternative submission options. You'll need to direct your question to them directly as every show has their own set of rules and requirements.

    Warmest regards,

    Tamara

  15. Is there another way to join the cast of Shark Tank besides e-mail? The submission is NOT confidential and frankly, I don't trust an e-mail submission that's not confidential. Why cant you just mail in a certafied copy of your invention???

  16. Wow.....Congrats go out to you Tiffany!

  17. Congratulations, Tiffany....enjoy the journey!!

  18. Tiffany,

    As you can see, we are all thrilled for you. Please keep us updated. We want to hear about your adventure...the ups and the downs.

    Tamara

  19. Good for you!! I am so excited for you. I also applied for the show but heard nothing...you must be on cloud 9! Congrats a 100X over!!!! Tina

  20. Tiffany,

    Wow!! I was so excited that you took the offer. Barbara's mentoring is priceless. Best of luck to you.

  21. I am blown away at the support I have received in the last week! I am so thankful to God for putting me in contact with amazing strong women like Tamara and Barbara! I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for believing in Ava the Elephant. I hope she will take the tears out of medicine time!

  22. CONGRATULATIONS! Tiffany, ...not because of the $50,000 or because your product will be everyhere....
    CONGRATULATIONS.. because you are reaching your dream.
    Rosario

  23. Congratulations Tiffany... your success is awe-inspiring. Being a mom of a mentally handicapped child, your story and product is near and dear to my heart. I know first hand how difficult it is to administer medication to kids with special needs, so I'm excited for both moms and kids to have Ava the Elephant!

    To your success and Beyond!

  24. Good job Tiffany. It is usually tough to give up more than 50% of your "baby", but sometimes it makes the best business sense to do so. Best Wishes and I look forward to seeing it on the shelves. :)

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