Four Qualities This Navy Seal Employed to Win on Shark Tank
How one military veteran went from boat beaching to bottle breaching.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Along the banks of the Santa Cruz River, in the south-central Arizona city of Tucson, you will find one of the most successful and fastest growing veteran-owned companies of the last three years. Founded by Eli Crane and his wife, Jen, Bottle Breacher is a multi-million dollar company that has grown from their garage to employing a team of 45, with a generous investment and publicity from the hit TV show, Shark Tank.
In 2013, Eli received a bottle opener made from a discarded .50 caliber bullet as a gift from his brother. It was a fantastic gift, but Eli thought he could make it better with a little paint and engraving. He showed his work to his fellow Seals, who wanted one of their own, and Bottle Breacher was born in an Etsy shop.
Years of training and experience as a Navy Seal helped Eli develop and maintain the qualities needed to grow and develop Bottle Breacher into a profitable business. Here are the 4 qualities that he credits as being the company foundation.
The company's greatest coup to date may be their smashing success on Shark Tank, which they prepared for by studying all the episodes. The team broke down what the judges were looking for and what they were not looking for, and made executive decisions to build up Bottle Breacher's weak spots. The first item they tackled was branding - a well-branded product is easier to sell and to build a clientele with. This was a simple fix, by adding the company logo to every product produced. After that was implemented, Eli and his team focused on building sales, as they knew that sales performance numbers were key to securing a financial commitment. They bided their time and waited until they had achieved 500k in sales before making their appearance on the show.
Their tactics paid off, with an investment made by Kevin O'Leary, which led to the happy problem of an almost overnight increase in product demand. By doing their homework and performing the needed work to fix the problems in their organization, Bottle Breacher exemplifies the need for reconnaissance in your business.
2. Problem-Solving and Decision-Making
Once they had appeared on Shark Tank, Eli and his team had the quandary of attempting to meet over 20,000 orders in a 3-month period. Their machinery capabilities at the time could produce 600 units per day, but this would not meet the demands of the customer or of their investors.
The best way to solve the problem was a change in machinery and in operations. New equipment allowed the team to engrave thirty-six rounds at a time, instead of one, and changing the engraving process so that all personalization was done before it hit the engraving stations, shaving days off the process. These two changes allowed them to bump production up to 1500 pieces per day. Backorders were quickly filled, and they were able to introduce new products during this process.
Three deployments as a Navy Seal honed Eli's confidence under fire, along with his problem solving and decision-making skills. While he might not have a business degree, these traits proved to be the backbone that allowed the company to survive through a rapid growth surge.
3. Mission Centric
A military mission that guides the lives and actions of thousands of people contains a clear statement of action and the reasons for these actions. It prevents confusion and helps to answer doubts in times of struggle. It's this principle that guides Bottle Breacher in their everyday work. The mission is to create the highest quality, gifts and promotional items on the market, all made in the USA, with a vision to support the veteran community. At least 25% of the workforce is veteran, and profits are reinvested into multiple veteran non-profit organizations.
This commitment to their mission draws their customer base, who believe in the goals and the vision that Eli used to build his company.
4. Higher Purpose
Every mission must be guided and informed by a higher purpose, otherwise, the work will crumble when tough times call. Eli believes that his Christian faith is a primary driving force in his work, alongside a deep-seated patriotism. The principles of both inform his daily decisions at Bottle Breacher, allowing him to make the best call in situations. In fact, he credits having the Bible, alongside his business books on his nightstand, as the reason Bottle Breacher exists. His purpose drives his work, resulting in a company that is thriving and giving back to the community.