Grow the business by word of mouth, or invest in advertising. The owners of Twin Cities-based online retailer Bijouxx Jewels took their debate to Good Morning America’s “Shark Tank Court,” and the fact that you’re reading about it here and not on a banner ad should tell you how Shark Tank star and GMA “judge” Kevin O’Leary ruled last week.
“The key here is, saving money matters more than anything else when you’re starting a small business,” O’Leary told partners Nicole Bandklayder, a public relations pro and David Pomije, a gemologist who worked in the jewelry business before launching Bijouxx in 2013. The website sells fine jewelry at competitive prices—think: sapphire stud earrings for $59.99
“Nicole is a professional in social media,” O’Leary continued. “She can generate awareness for absolutely free.”
The Shark Tank opportunity came Bandklayder’s way through her public relations networks—word went out that GMA was looking for two business owners with different viewpoints, and Bandklayder jumped. Weeks passed after she made her pitch to go before TV court with her partner in both life as well as business. She didn’t think much of it, until a call out of the blue last Wednesday that she and Pomije were wanted in New York the very next morning. “David ran out and got a hair cut. I got my eyebrows done, and that was it. We went!” Nicole says.
The two, who work out of their Plymouth home, didn’t meet O’Leary in advance and had no idea what he was going to ask until it happened on live TV.
Pomije handled his loss gracefully—for the cameras, anyway. “I still think I was right,” he told me, once back in Minneapolis. “It’s possible I didn’t listen completely . . . nothing big, but a little paid social media . . ."
Meanwhile, the 28-year-old entrepreneur is left with an even bigger question: "Why aren't you two married," O'Leary asked at the end of the segment. Pomije laughed nervously and turned to Bandklayder. There's got to be another reality show for that.