Swimming with the sharks

file0002093891751Kelly Costello (formerly Chaney) has been a fan of Shark Tank for years! According to her, “I love, love, love the show.” She’s even used advice from the sharks to grow her own business. So auditioning for the show was a no brainer. Here’s what happened to Kelly when she swam with the sharks.

It started with a 21 page application that asked a lot of in depth questions about my business, Puppy Cake. Everything from how I came up with the idea, to my biggest disappointment and success. It took several hours to fill out. Once I was done, I made a 3-5 minute audition video that was supposed to show my personality and any interesting things about my business. I was late in the game for auditioning, so I did it in 3 tries, cut it down to under 5 minutes, and emailed it to the producers.

A week later Mark Burnett Productions contacted me to say I was a semi-finalist! It felt good until I considered that a semi-finalist was probably just one of thousands.

Next, I had a telephone interview. I was so nervous! I knew that every contact with someone from Mark Burnett Productions was part of my audition. How I handled myself on the phone would indicate how I would handle myself in front of the camera. So if I clammed up on the phone, they would probably think I’d clam up in front of the Sharks.

The phone call went really well. The producers were great. After I got off the phone with them, I sat down and wrote a first draft of my pitch. Even though my producers didn’t say I was definitely going to L.A., I had to act like I was so everything would be ready when I got confirmation.

Eventually I got the good news! Unfortunately I’d be traveling alone. After doing a little research it seemed next to impossible to get my dog, best friend, and business partner Izze out to L.A.

I contacted Alyson Lyons, who helps run a Vizsla rescue group near L.A, to see if she had a dog that would be good on TV. I needed a bomb proof dog that could walk on a leash and was food motivated. Alyson suggested Minnie, her 7 year old Vizsla. Minnie was perfect for the job.

I only had one day to relax before I made my pitch in front of the producers. Minnie and I got to know each other that night and were prepared for our last audition.

Kelly Costello swam with five sharks and lived to talk about it.

Kelly Costello swam with five sharks and lived to talk about it.

Tuesday morning we had orientation and then waited in our dressing room at the Sony Pictures Studio lot. I practiced my pitch in my room and then went to the studio for a dress rehearsal. I wondered if they were trying to make us extra nervous by not letting us see the set. I found out that it was because they were filming all day, every day that I was there. I did my pitch and got a little feedback. I immediately felt like it was over and that they weren’t going to let me film.

Being a track and field athlete during school, I learned that you only get one shot during a race. If you screw it up, there weren’t do-overs. I anxiously waited to hear from my producers to find out if I was going to get to film on Thursday.

Before I left the set that day, the crew started asking me about Puppy Cake. I told them about how we use human grade ingredients and how it’s really healthy. A crew member asked if he could eat one. I said sure and he grabbed a Puppy Cake and tossed it in his mouth. With his mouth stuffed he said, “That’s pretty good.” Before I knew it, a swarm of crew members devoured the Puppy Cakes.

Wednesday, I paced around my room while watching old episodes of Shark Tank on Hulu. I only took a break to bake more my Puppy Cakes in the hotel. I bet the housekeepers were wondering what in the world I had been doing in my room. There was batter and white powder everywhere. The white powder being the yogurt frosting that comes in every box.

With the Puppy Cakes baked and frosted, I stood in front of the mirror and practiced my pitch. I also called my parents and pitched my product to them. I visualized all the questions the sharks would ask me to prepare myself for the next day. At 7 PM, a producer called me and said I needed to be ready to go at 11 a.m. the next morning. As soon as I got off the phone, I called my family to let them know I would be filming the next day and to pray for me. I then called Alyson to let her know what time she needed to bring Minnie to the set.

I had everything packed, did my hair and makeup and got ready to face one of the most important days of my career.

Want to know how Kelly did when she came face to face with the sharks? Read part 2 now.

About Guest Blogger

Guest bloggers for the TDS Business Blog.

, , ,


  1. Swimming with the sharks 2 | TDS Business - August 20, 2013

    […] (Missed part 1? Read it here.) […]

  2. Would you buy your business? | TDS Business - September 5, 2013

    […] the weeks and months following my experience on Shark Tank, I realized that I would NOT buy my own business. Why? Because the return wasn’t there. At least, […]

  3. Your chance to swim with the sharks! | TDS Business - July 18, 2014

    […] food for dogs.” Not too long ago Kelly auditioned for the hit ABC show Shark Tank and wrote about her experience for the blog. Kelly is one of a few entrepreneurs who have been lucky enough to pitch their […]

Leave a Comment