Dominique Barteet, inventor of One Sole Shoes who was successfully funded by Daymond John on Shark Tank in the season two finale, is a driven woman. She wants success more than anything in the world, but not in the sense you’d think.
She had a lot to say on the subject of building her business and her success on the Shark Tank. “For me,” said Dominique, “it’s not about the money. It’s about succeeding, it’s about the dreams. I want to be a household name.” Her busy schedule keeps her jumping, but she knows the pay-off will fulfill her dreams. “My college called, the business school did a study and projected One Sole would be a $100 million company in two years. I really think 2013 will be my year. Right now, I feel like I am constantly running with scissors, but I realize I have to pace myself.” Dominique confessed she wants to be “the next Sarah Blakely.”
In a way, Dominique embodies everything that makes Shark Tank compelling TV. “I’m kind of like the All-American Dream,” she said, “I work hard and it’s all about succeeding at what I am doing. I seem to inspire people by being that way.”
She told me a story of inspiration. She was dining in New York with one of Daymond’s manufacturers and their waiter recognized her from the show. “They always remember me, but they can’t remember the deal. They know I got a deal, but not with who or for how much.” The waiter told Dominique about a business he wanted to start called Tu Chocolat which features custom Venezuelan chocolate bars. They exchanged business cards and she received an email from the young waiter a few months later. He had quit his job and started the business! “One thing I have noticed is a lot of people dream about starting their own business, but they don’t get off the couch.”
I sought out Alvaro Insausti, the waiter Dominique inspired. At least one chocolate entrepreneur ‘got off the couch,’ perhaps with a little inspiration from Dominique. “I met Dominique the Monday after she was on the show,” says Insausti, “I recognized her, but didn’t know why. When I got her credit card, I recognized the name and told her about my business. She was really listening, she was really interested in my story.” Dominique, who has a reputation for being very helpful to other Shark Tank entrepreneurs advised Alvaro- they even met twice- and she exchanges emails with him regularly. “I went home and told my wife and she got so excited. We both watch the show and never miss it. We had been working on the business idea for a while, but meeting Dominique inspired us. She gave us that ‘final push.’ She’s good at motivating people to ‘go for it.’”
Dominique has helped the young Venezuelan couple by creating buzz for their young company and by inviting them to networking events. Alvaro and his wife came to this country with”zero cash” and are carving out their own piece of the American Dream. “The immigrant success story is a big part of what it means to live in this country and that’s why we love Shark Tank. It motivates people.” When Dominique told me this story, I thought it was nice. When I spoke to Alvaro and heard the genuine excitement about his business and the affection for Dominique in his voice, I realized just how special she is. Not many multi-millionaires would take the time to help someone out the way she did; Dominique seems to get as much fulfillment from inspiring others as she does building her own business.
As I found out in Part 1 of my interview with Dominique Barteet, she was asked by the producers to appear on Shark Tank. Even though she initially didn’t plan to be on the show, she is a fan. “It inspires people because you are seeing a ‘normal person’ succeeding. I know I could have done it on my own, but having Daymond as an advisor and partner will help me grow in the future. I went from being in 30 countries to 80 countries with his help.”
She has nothing but praise for Daymond and the other Sharks. “He’s genuinely a very nice guy. We joke around sometimes because he says ‘at the end of the day, it’s all about the money.’ The money is not the most important thing to me.” The Shark and the entrepreneur clash on the licensing issue though. “Daymond is ‘Mr. Licensing.’ I am not into that, but the business may go in that direction in the future.”
“Barbara was very nice to me. She made a great joke that didn’t air. We were talking for an hour and a half (long by Shark Tank pitch standards) and it was getting very personal. Barbara remarked ‘wait a minute, is this Shrink Tank or Shark Tank?’ Robert gave me a big hug, and Mark Cuban was very helpful too.” I asked her about Mr. Wonderful: “I think he’s the smartest one there. He can see the future, he knows when a business has potential. You could see it when he was all over Unikey, you can see it in his eyes.”
“I still watch the show,” she said, “and I am aware how many people love it. I am noticing more guys liking it. I am hoping to do a follow up segment.” One Sole is one of the most successful companies to appear on Shark Tank, and, never to be outdone, she said, “that’s the one thing that bothers me.”
Dominique’s favorite product from season three was Unikey. “I have locked myself out of my house so many times. Not worrying about a key is a biggie for me.” She has also advised Lindsay and Nikki, the TriMi Tank gals. “I like helping any way I can. I help Shark Tank entrepreneurs whenever I can.” She’s also a bit of a Shark herself; she confessed to kicking in on the EZ VIP deal with Daymond.
Of course, Dominique had to answer “the question.” Find out her answer on The Hot Dog Truck.
After soaking up all of Dominique’s energy and enthusiasm, I asked if she had any parting advice. “Dream and get out there!”
Sound advice, indeed.