This IIT-IIM startup founder denies Shark Tank offer, sells his entire inventory over the weekend
Balakrishnan, the co-founder of Flatheads Shoesreceived an offer that valued his company at ₹2.25 crore from two sharks on Shark Tank IndiaS2.
- Balakrishnan, who had earlier invested personal money to keep the venture afloat, rejected the offer.
- The shoe business that started right before the pandemic ran into trouble as lockdowns forced people to stay indoors.
- After the episode aired last Friday, the startup managed to sell off its entire inventory over the weekend, Balakrishnan said on social media.
At the time Balakrishnan’s episode was shot, his company was on the verge of a shutdown. He said on the show that he personally invested ₹35 lakh to keep the business afloat, in the last two months. His co-founder Utkarsh Biradar, who helped design the shoes, too invested the same amount. Biradar exited the startup in 2022 but still holds 30% equity.
In spite of his mounting troubles, Balakrishnan rejected the only deal he received on the show. Sharks Peyush Bansal (co-founder, Lenskart) and
Balakrishnan had asked for a valuation of ₹25 crore as its company generated sales to the tune of ₹3.4 crore in FY22. The company had raised ₹5.2 crore in April 2021, at a pre-money valuation of ₹28 crore, from angel investors. Pre-money valuation refers to the value of a startup that does not include external funding – basically a startup’s value before it raises funds.
Once in a generation troubles
“It’s not that I can’t run a company. I am capable of it. Thing is, when you step into the market and for 4 months nobody is wearing shoes, because nobody is stepping out only - such situations arise once in generations. And it happened to us,” said Balakrishnan on the show. He also said that angel investors were not willing to invest further in the business.
‘Need to evaluate my priorities in life’
Even as he rejected the offer, Balakrishnan admitted that he needed to change his perspective, re-evaluate his priorities, and gain more experience before entering the D2C market.
“I need to evaluate my priorities in life right now. I will go out there and work with a D2C brand and understand how to do this before I come back and try again. I need a couple of years. But that perspective needs to be built. And the best way to build it is to work with somebody who’s done this before,” said Balakrishnan on the show.
Every tear has a silver lining
When Balakrishnan pitched on the show, most of the Sharks asked him to shut down the business and instead, look to make a living through a regular job, leveraging his educational qualifications and work experience. While boAt’s founder Gupta shared his personal experience of going down the same road, Mittal even offered him a job.
Shortly after the episode aired though, Flatheads Shoes trended on social media and consequently received enough orders that it almost sold out its inventory in India.
“We've almost sold out our inventory in India, so pardon us if you aren't able to find your size on www.flatheads.in,” shared Balakrishnan on his LinkedIn account.
As Balakrishnan admitted on the show, Flatheads enjoys a ‘price advantage’ in the US because people are willing to pay a premium price for a sustainable product.
The serial entrepreneur
After graduating as a mechanical engineer from IIT Bombay in 1999, Balakrishnan worked with an industrial technologies MNC Ingersoll-Rand International (India) for five years, before pursuing an MBA degree from IIM, Bangalore.
He worked with Bain & Company and Honeywell, before starting his entrepreneurial journey in 2013 with Windsleeve, a retail technology product company, and Momoe, a mobile payments product company.
Balakrishnan is married and has a 10-year-old daughter. Currently, his household income is managed by his wife, who’s working with a German company. His daughter is an artist who also wants to be an entrepreneur and is already taking orders for calendars created with her paintings.
“Did I mention that my 10-year-old daughter wants to be an entrepreneur? She says she is a fan of Peyush's no-nonsense mindset, and I know that she admires Vineeta for her cheerfulness and positivity. She is super proud that I managed to get an offer from both of them,” stated Balakrishnan on his LinkedIn post.
His perseverance and honesty on the show left the Shark Tank India panel and the audience so impressed, that the admiration translated into sales.
The #Flatheads pitch in #SharkTankIndia was one of the best I've seen across two seasons. Emotional. Real. Uplifting.— Akarsh hp (@AbstractAkarsh) 1673025864000
This #Flatheads guy is so genuine and transparent with his story and failures. Saying that you couldn't make it wit… https://t.co/rjcGdmhUCo— Sagar Khatri (@dssagar93) 1673026813000
Nothing but respect for you. To be honest on the national television, it takes courage. And I am sure you will boun… https://t.co/3KSiXtM62Q— Bapi Banerjee (@banerjee_bapi) 1673078555000
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