PHOENIX — When Rohan Oza, a shark guest on TV shark tank and co-founder of CAVU Ventures, is considering investing in a brand, he looks at a few criteria.
“It starts with one, the product. Is your product truly differentiated? he told a crowd at SNX, SNAC International’s education and collaboration forum held March 27-29. “You can’t be the sixth kombucha on the block. It won’t get you anywhere. You have to be #1 or #2. Otherwise, you’re toast.
Mr. Oza, who invests in agribusinesses, said the product needed to stand out in what he called a fully addressable market, or TAM.
“Fortunately, all of you sitting in this room are sitting in a huge, munching TAM,” he continued. “Step into a world where you think you can really grow. … The second is that you have to find a Founder who you believe in and who supports him.
Mr. Oza has discovered a number of brands and founders over the years, including one who chatted with him on stage at SNX, Megan Reamer, founder of Jackson’s, a line of sweet potato chips. She and her husband started them shark tank and made a deal with Mr. Oza.
She asked the shark questions after five entrepreneurs submitted their ideas to the SNAC Tank competition. He said it’s important to find a brand with a real purpose.
“It can be a mission objective. It can be humor. It could be sizzling. It could be a connection with a particular type of audience, but the brand has to have something where it’s not bland,” he said. “There must be some zhuzh.”
One thing that is vital for new brands is packaging that stands out, not only in its appearance, but also in how the brand communicates its mission. And he highlighted the importance of social media influencers because he said one in 10 Americans influences the other nine.
“The DNA of brands today is built through micro-influencers because they speak to their audience,” he said. “That audience embraces the brand, and that’s when the foundation of your brand story is set.”
Mr. Oza also talked about the progression of what it takes to have a successful snack. In the past, a snack maker just had to think about the product itself and if it could create sizzle around it.
“Then it became what I call the absence of evil,” he said.
It is a sugar free drink or a low fat crisp. Now, consumers are looking for products that have the presence of goodies such as added protein, fiber or probiotics.
“People not only look at what the brand can do for me, but also for the planet. It’s a very Gen Z thing,” he explained.
After talking about the importance of large gross margins and the promise of acceptable snacks, the discussion turned to shark tank. Are the interactions seen on television authentic?
“That’s right. No script, no background. You walk in and the first time you see what’s happening is when they’re in front of you,” he said. news is that none of us can prepare. We can’t Google. I’m on TV, and I can’t even pull out my phone and find stuff. You basically have four minutes of listening to their pitch, and then probably, in real life, 30 minutes of questions from the various sharks. And they cut that down to eight minutes of really good TV. What I love is that it’s emotional, it’s challenging, and you have both success and failure, which is kind of what real life is all about.