Inside the Shark Tank: iThrive's Mugdha Pradhan on her Journey as a Solo Founder

The resilience required to navigate personal hardships while simultaneously building a successful business is what led to success, say iThrive's Founder Mugdha Pradhan.

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As an entrepreneur, the path to success often takes unexpected turns, each presenting its own set of challenges and opportunities. My journey through the rigorous selection process of Shark Tank India was no exception. It was a rollercoaster ride filled with anticipation, preparation, and ultimately, unanswered questions. From the moment my team and I embarked on this venture, our goal was clear - to showcase our vision and passion for our business on a national platform. The journey began with the standard application process, where we navigate through forms and interviews until we received the coveted invitation to the Mumbai auditions.

The initial excitement of being shortlisted was soon met with conflicting schedules, including a TED talk engagement. Despite the setback, we remained hopeful until a second chance presented itself with a scheduled shoot. As the solo founder, I stepped up to represent our company, armed with knowledge and determination.

Preparing for the pitch was an intense process that required a deep dive into the intricacies of our business model. From analyzing revenue streams to understanding product details, every aspect was meticulously scrutinized. The hours spent in preparation were accompanied by a mounting sense of anticipation, knowing that this opportunity could be a game-changer for our business.

Additionally, during the filming process, I encountered a challenging situation that tested my patience and resolve. Despite being instructed to arrive at the production house at 9 in the morning, I found myself waiting the entire day without any clarity on when our episode would be filmed. As the hours passed by, uncertainty began to mount, exacerbated by the lack of communication from the production team. 

Eventually, we were told I would be the last founder pitching for the day. As I waited backstage for my turn in the tank, around 9.30 pm. A representative from the production house approached me, citing technical issues and the judges' fatigue, asking me if I was willing to  delay my shoot and push it to the following day. However, I was tired and I knew there was no guarantee about the next day’s schedule, hence I stood my ground. I insisted that my episode be filmed that very day. Finally they did agree on  going ahead with my pitch as the last pitch for the day. Entering the tank, I was greeted by a panel of seasoned investors, each eager to evaluate our business strategy and potential. The dialogue that ensued covered both personal and professional aspects of our journey, from overcoming adversity to addressing concerns about profitability and market viability.

Image Courtesy: iThrive

During the pitch, Ritesh delved into the personal aspect of my journey, probing into the challenges I faced, particularly regarding my separation and divorce in my 40s. He expressed empathy, recognizing the societal taboos surrounding such matters in India at the time. Despite the adversity I encountered, Ritesh acknowledged with admiration my ability to transform these challenges into opportunities. It was a poignant moment that underscored the resilience required to navigate personal hardships while simultaneously building a successful business. Ritesh's acknowledgment served as validation of not just my entrepreneurial acumen but also my ability to overcome personal struggles and emerge stronger on the other side.

As the pitch progressed, the tension in the room was palpable, with every word spoken and every question asked carrying significant weight. Despite the gravity of the situation, there were moments of lightheartedness that provided brief reprieves from the intensity. There were quite a few discussions on nutrition itself and some of their statements were not entirely accurate. I countered their assertions with confidence and expertise. A couple of the sharks mentioned that running three verticals meant that overall there would be no focus on either one, again, I countered those arguments with numbers and data proving how iThrive had built an ecosystem and every vertical was creating growth for the other two verticals. Ritesh, on the other hand, believed that it was too early to invest in our business, advocating for further maturation before considering an investment. Despite the differing opinions, I remained resolute in my convictions, determined to convey the value and potential of iThrive.

However, what followed was a period of uncertainty as the promised telecast of our episode failed to materialize. Months passed with no explanation or communication from the Shark Tank team, leaving us in a state of limbo. Despite our efforts to seek clarity, the lack of response only added to the mystery surrounding our episode's fate.

Image Courtesy: iThrive

As we grappled with the unanswered questions, we found solace in the lessons learned from the experience. The journey itself was a testament to our resilience and dedication to our vision. Looking ahead, we remain grateful for the opportunity to share our story, however brief it may have been. And while the chapter may have ended without resolution, the lessons learned will continue to guide us on our path towards success. In the end, it's not just about the deals made or the investments secured, but the journey itself that defines us as entrepreneurs. And for that, we are grateful, for it is in the face of adversity that true resilience is forged, propelling us ever forward towards our dreams.

As an entrepreneur, prioritizing the health and well-being of our clients has always been paramount to me. Throughout our journey, we've remained committed to our mission of making a positive impact on people's lives, prioritizing their health over business interests. This ethos has guided our decision-making process, ensuring that every step we take is aligned with our core values. While the outcome of our Shark Tank India experience may not have been what we hoped for, I am grateful for the clarity it provided. It reaffirmed my belief that none of the sharks’ ideologies would fully align with our vision of healing the world. Instead, it served as a reminder of the importance of staying true to our principles, even in the face of adversity. Moving forward, we will continue to prioritize the well-being of our clients above all else, knowing that true success lies not just in financial gain, but in making a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

- This article is written by Mugdha Pradhan, Founder of iThrive

Solo Founder