3 Lessons from The Natural Grip’s Shark Tank Experience

3 Lessons from The Natural Grip’s Shark Tank Experience

Recently The Natural Grip was featured on Shark Tank, ABC’s investment television show. The Natural Grip is a one year old company that sells reusable tape hand grips that protect your hands during CrossFit training. They do business primarily through distributors but also have an online store, hosted on Bigcommerce’s ecommerce platform.

The company has seen great growth in its first year and shows a lot of promise. So much promise, in fact, that it generated a heated bidding war between investors Robert Herjavec and Daymond John. Eventually Herjavec won and invested $125,000 for a 25% stake in the company.  The exposure they have received from their TV appearance, along with Mr Herjavec’s expertise, seems to guarantee that The Natural Grip will see continued growth and expansion.  Here are a few takeaways from the show and our experience visiting their website.

The Natural Grip on Shark Tank

Ashley Drake on ABC’s Shark Tank


Lesson #1: Focus on Your Goal

As an entrepreneur, you wear many hats and are pulled in numerous directions. Furthermore, with all the challenges you face, it can be easy to be blown by the wind and chase after every possible revenue opportunity.

From The Natural Grip’s experience on Shark Tank, we learned that they are extremely focused.

Mark Cuban: “I don’t think you want to expand outside of CrossFit. That’s not the opportunity. The opportunity is adding additional products that leverage your credibility and the trust you’ve developed.”

Ashley Drake: “Right now though, let’s deal with this… what we have going on.”

Without losing sight of future opportunities, she maintained her focus on her existing product in the untapped market before her. That’s not an easy thing to do when talking to a billionaire with a lofty vision for your company.

Now, what Cuban says makes sense in a lot of contexts. However, for a young company that has yet to fully find their identity and take advantage of what lies before them, it’s not the  best idea. Too many people jump at every opportunity – never finishing what they started.

With finite bandwidth, you cannot do everything. Excel at one thing first.

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For your business or online store, you might find yourself in similar scenarios, but don’t get distracted. Focus and achieve your goals, then move on.


Lesson #2: Go All In

Like many entrepreneurs, founder Ashley Drake and her family are fully committed to the business. Although she is an active duty Captain in the Army Corp of Engineers, she finds time to dedicate to the business by sleeping less than four hours per night. On top of that, her husband has left his day job to commit full time to the business.

Rarely do entrepreneurs survive, let alone succeed, without this type of dedication. Of course, timing and preparation are key. Long gone are the days when you could merely open an online store and easily get sales. Commit to the journey.

Sacrifice and commitment are critical to your success.

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It is critical to understand the vision and see the endgame. However, don’t expect that you will get to the finish line without putting in hard work first.


Lesson #3: Optimize Your Website

While The Natural Grip shared on Shark Tank that they have built the business through distributors, they have focused some of their effort online as well. They have an online store — hosted on Bigcommerce’s ecommerce platform — on a subdomain, as well as a basic site with a fancy parallax splash page featuring their Shark Tank experience and their products.

While Bigcommerce was a great choice for their ecommerce platform, the website is poorly optimized for online visibility.   Hopefully they become aware of this while the company is still young, because it can impact their presence and sales significantly.  Not once is CrossFit included in a page title, URL, or H1 tag! Only one product has a product review, and none of them are marked up with Schema.org structured data.

The results of all this? See for yourself — Google “crossfit grips” and see what happens. They are nowhere to be found (though their Facebook page shows up at the bottom of page one of the search results).

There are also a few critical user experience issues such as not having their own SSL certificate, and forcing users to check out on an unbranded URL (https://store-n49vz.mybigcommerce.com) instead of their own domain. As a result of the splash page, root domain site, store site, and unbranded checkout, there are multiple different experiences that potential customers have to navigate through to buy the product. These types of user experience challenges can seriously hurt a store’s conversion rate.

Don’t get so caught up in the business that you forget to do your due diligence on this critical marketing channel. Even if the focus is not on online sales, potential retailers and distributors are going to have a hard time finding The Natural Grip over their competitors.

Don’t forget about your users.  Make it easy for them to find you.

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It is critical that you optimize your website for both online search and user experience. If you don’t know how, start by filling in the standard fields with descriptive text as if talking to a customer. From there you can learn more about online search or hire an ecommerce SEO agency to help you out. Be sure to have a friend (or a stranger) go through your website for the first time – with no background – and share their experiences.


There are always lessons to be learned from observing others’ experiences.  We wish The Natural Grip continued success in their growing business, both wholesale and online.

Scott Williams

Scott is the founder of Inkblot Digital. He is an ecommerce geek who leads Inkblot as we discover new, inventive ways to helps customers' business thrive through custom development.

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