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‘Shark Tank’ investor shares secret sauce with New York startups

Daymond John

(New York Business Journal) – For TurboPUP CEO Kirstina Guerrero, only one action plan truly matters before starting a business: “Take time to write down your entire five-year plan with everything you intend to do,” Guerro told an audience of small business owners. “And then burn it.”

Guerrero offered her advice during an event Tuesday night at the New Museum that was sponsored by Capital One. Its purpose as to aid entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as offer an opportunity to network and hear strategies from the featured panel.

Daymond John, CEO of clothing line FUBU and an investor on ” Shark Tank,” appeared alongside Guerrero on stage. The two met when he decided to invest $100,000 in her company in exchange for 35 percent equity during a taping of the show.

John, who started his clothing company FUBU at age 18 in his mother’s basement, said learning how to bend with change is a critical competent of being an entrepreneur. His path to success wasn’t an easy ascent straight to the top. Rather, he says, it was an uphill battle marked with difficulty. John said he experienced several setbacks as an early entrepreneur, having to close down his company three times during the years 1982 through 1993, citing a lack of capital. The situation didn’t become any easier when 27 banks rejected him for a loan.

But persistence, John emphasized, is key to conquering unforeseen problems.

“When you have absolute passion for something, that’s when you succeed. Nothing in this world of greatness is done without passion,” said John.

Guerrero similarly went through a difficult period with her company, which makes power bars for dogs. Her business model took a heavy blow when the bird flu broke, as egg yoke was the second-listed ingredient for the dog treats.

But she didn’t miss a beat, talking to her mentors, educating herself on what could serve as a substitute, to re-formulate the product. According to Guerrero, TurboPup is now projected to make $3-5 million by the end of the year.

While Capital One can’t control the stormy seas of entrepreneurship, it can at least aid a future business owner with a sail for navigation. It has a new project,BusinessAdvising.org, that offers mentorship in areas such as marketing, technology, and finance to customers.

According to Capital One’s research, two-fifths of small businesses haven’t executed a marketing campaign in the last six months, and 92 percent say they don’t have a mentor. As the bank sees it, guided mentorship is the push a small business owner needs to be successful. And after all, smarter business owners should mean more profits — and more profits are exactly what a bank wants to see.

“People think of small business as small, but they have actually created two-thirds of jobs right now.” Nicole Wyman, a Capital One spokesman, told the New York Business Journal. “ That’s why it’s worth it to invest and help them because they fuel the economy.”

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