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Behind the scenes of a Shark Tank Journey

Lori Phegan Andrew Banks Naomi Simson

Shark Tank has had a hiatus for the past five years but tonight it premiers again on Channel 10 with new sharks.  We can't wait to watch!

Ever wondered what the Shark Tank experience is really like? 

lori phegan the inappropriate gift co shark tank 

Behind the scenes of a Shark Tank journey

My Inappropriate journey, before during and after Shark Tank.

Before Shark Tank

We’ve all been there on a Friday night, busy week at work, stressed, tired and needing to relax with our favourite friends — Sauv Blanc and Pizza. One particular Friday night I realised I really didn’t enjoy what I was doing, and there must be more to life than this?

One of my previous bosses once said “You’ll never work a day in your life if you enjoy what you do”, this started me thinking…

The only thing I enjoyed doing was sharing inappropriate memes with my friends and shopping for random funny gifts on the internet for friends and family. And that’s how it all started; as a fun hobby. The early days were a basic website a few designed products, lots of inappropriate memes and a trickle of sales — which meant the moon to me!

I saw Naomi advertise on TV that auditions were closing soon for series 4 and I smiled. I imagined being in the Tank and sharing my profanity-laden products with them. I have loved that show for so long and I have always admired the entrepreneurs for the balls to go on and get interrogated by the Sharks. I never imagined that would be me.

The difference when you have a business you truly love doing is that you don’t care what others think because you are so internally driven. I thought what is the worst that can happen? I get ripped to shreds on National TV but the flip side is that even if I do, my business would get the exposure that no startup can afford to pay for and I was ok with that cost/benefit analysis.

During Shark Tank

The whole process was so exciting, here is a photo of me getting my make up done at home for the audition! (I don’t spend much time out of my activewear so getting “done up” is an occasion for me!)

 lori phegan the inappropriate gift co shark tank

If you saw the episode you will see that I didn’t get ripped to shreds, I received offers from all five Sharks. Choosing Naomi was a no-brainer for me, she has always been an inspiration and she shares the same vision as us — ensuring people do not receive boring gifts! In addition, she has travelled exactly the same road we are embarking on and those lessons learned will be invaluable to us.

Next is a photo of my husband Ben and I straight after the filming, at our local pub. Can you see the glint of pure happiness and excitement in our eyes?

lori phegan the inappropriate gift co shark tank

We found out two weeks beforehand when our airing date was. We met with Naomi and her team a few times before the airing date to ensure we were prepared for the onslaught that would come as a result of exposure on National TV — Shark Tank Series 4 Episode 1.


We watched the episode live with our friends. My family are in the UK so I Facetimed live with them as well. Needless to say, much fun and champagne was had. Budget Ben had our website analytics live on another screen and within 1 minute of my pitch, our visits were rising astronomically hitting 6k concurrent users during the pitch (our usual numbers were 15-30 live at any one time). Our stats went from 1,000 daily page visits to 18,000 daily page visits over the next couple of days — an increase of 1700%. Although our numbers are not that high now, they are still a lot higher than pre-Shark Tank and we also had a huge surge in sign-ups to our newsletter which was awesome. Our sales peaked on the Wednesday after Tuesdays episode and have remained at a higher level than pre-Shark Tank which considering we are not in any gift giving season has been amazing.

After Shark Tank

Five years on... 

Well the business has survived the first five years.  We haven't yet reached our BHAG - Big Hairy Audacious Goal of $20 million and world and i am not sure we ever will, but we still exist and that is a huge achievement! Ignorance is bliss and if I had known then what I know now about starting your own business, I am not sure I would have begun the roller coaster ride. 

 We didn't actually end up getting any investment directly from Naomi, instead we opted for a mentorship arrangement for 12 months by which we could work with her and her awesome Red Balloon team and use their skills and expertise to structure our gift business for success ( without giving up any ownership).  At the time they had an online gift business called Wrapped that we worked with and we learned soo much. 

It was a wonderful and very fun time working in the Red Balloon offices. 

naomi and lori

naomi and lori phegan shark tank

In 2019 we had a bit of a bumpy road when I was diagnosed with cancer, it was actually a very testing time and the Inappropriate Gift Co nearly didn't make it, but thanks to the generous support of all our followers and friends and family, we made it through! 

 cancer chose the wrong bitch to mess with

Humour was still my go to and my coping mechanism to get through the hard times.

lori phegan cancer


The pandemic was actually good for us because people were stuck at home, needed a laugh and our GEN X customers who usually didn't like to shop online realised how easy it actually was.  We also had some fun with Covid related products. 

 not today rona

1.5 metres


We moved the family to the Gold Coast, why? because we were running to stand still in Sydney. The kids were about to start high school so it was the perfect time. 


We settled into life on the Gold Coast. We recruited two new awesome team members to join us! 

mon and michelle the inappropriate gift co


This year has been hard, retail sales are down, but we are still having fun and we still have awesome customers and we have survived worse!

A huge thank you to all our supporters XX 

Please have some fun shopping!

If you haven't seen our Shark Tank pitch - you can view it here.  

1 Response

Sally Debrowski
Sally Debrowski

August 30, 2023

Loved your Behind the Scenes of a Shark Tank. I didn’ t actually watch this episode and have only been aware of your company for probably about 2 years. Look forward to receiving your emails. Also I hope your health is good now. Your company is so unique and I am happy it is going so well and you love what you do. All the very best for the future.

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