The Mastronardo brothers made a name for themselves with a successful dive into ABC’s Shark Tank, but they had already created a wonderful product and strong business long before that great swim. Nardo’s Natural is an organic skin care-company that was started in 2009 by four brothers in their parents’ kitchen. It has been a year since the brothers’ March 9th, 2012 appearance on the popular show, and they have been growing ever since.
The Nardo brothers received an investment from Shark Barbara Corcoran on the show and have never looked back. After the original show aired they also appeared on Good Morning America.
Danny Mastronardo was a featured speaker at the 2013 Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference (SEEC), which was held at the University of Tampa. The Conference was a regional event of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO). Danny spoke about Nardo’s Natural’s dedication to customer service, his experience as an entrepreneur, and tips and advice to the young entrepreneurs in attendance.
The following is an interview with the Mastronardo brothers who made an organic skin care product into an extremely affluent company.
General Business Information:
Founders/Owners (With Ages): DJ Mastronardo (31), Kyle Mastronardo (29), Danny Mastronardo (27), KJ Mastronardo (24)
Initial Startup Capital: $6,000
Date Founded: April 2009
Michael Luchies: What has been the toughest hurdle as business owners that you have all had to face?
DJ Mastronardo: Starting from the ground up is a true obstacle. There was no model or guide for us to follow and we literally created everything from scratch. My brothers and I knew we entered one of the most competitive industries (skincare) and we had a tough road ahead of us.
ML: From what point in the business did all four of you decide to work together?
When we realized every brother had his own individual skillset:
-Danny is a marketing & PR guru
-DJ is a health and nutrition enthusiast (well-versed in organics)
-Kyle has a strong sales and negotiations background
-KJ is great with numbers and controls all of the bookkeeping
ML: I only have one brother, and I don’t have to operate a business with him. I think we would kill each other. How are you all able to work together to operate a successful business?
Danny Mastronardo: There are certainly disagreements but they only fuel the business in a positive way. I think because we are brothers, we can be truly honest with each other, and if someone has a bad idea, we let them know it! We build from it and work to find a solution that all four of us can agree on. I really don’t have any problem with disagreements because it shows that my brothers are constantly thinking and trying new things… and in a business you need to be thinking outside the box.
ML: What has been the best part of working together?
KJ Mastronardo: Owning and operating a successful family business is one of the most rewarding feelings. If you’re having a great time at work, than there is no job that can top that. Everyday is a fun and exciting new adventure.
ML: What is the most important aspect of your business (Product, Sales, Customer Service, Marketing, etc.) and why?
DJ M: I feel customer service is easily overlooked in many small businesses. There are so many things going on and it can be difficult to focus on customer service. Our company delegates time to personally write to customers. We make it our mission to provide smooth customer service without any difficulty in communication. In the early stages of a small business, your time (customer service) is free. Take advantage of that time to please your clients/customers. When things become automated I feel you begin to lose your audience.
ML: What has been the biggest mistake in your business so far? How did you recover?
Kyle Mastronardo: We have made choices that we learned from. In the early stages of business it’s impossible to know whether A or B is going to be a positive outcome. Our company does the best we can to make educated and calculated risks. However, they are still risks and that can come with consequences. It’s imperative to take these educated risks and continue with the success it has, or learn from the consequence it presents. The ability to diversify and try new things is what makes owning a business fun and educating.
ML: What is the biggest mistake that young entrepreneurs make?
DM: Early on there is a perpetuating excitement…that ‘what if’ factor. In turn, it leads to a bigger investment and usually a start-up begins to get over their head. I have learned to wait for the demand, then supply. Many companies sit on a large inventory and then devise ways to sell. Sell and then supply, it’s less nerve-wracking.
ML: Did all of the brothers immediately agree with going on Shark Tank, or was there some thought behind whether it was the right decision for the business?
KJM: We contacted previous businesses that aired on Shark Tank. After asking their opinions, we knew without hesitation it was the right decision for us. After the national exposure from several millions of viewers on March 9th, 2012, our business has never been the same.
ML: Are there any regrets from your appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank?
All: None! We got a deal with Barbara and were thrilled!
ML: What would be your most important piece of advice to family members thinking of starting a business together?
All: It might be easier to yell at your business partner because you’re family, but it will be easier to negotiate figures down the road. I can be completely honest and open with my brothers and that honesty will invite a successful business.
ML: What would be your most important piece of advice to a young entrepreneur?
All:…. Same thing about not getting over your head. It’s very important to take it easy early on. Slow and steady wins the race.
Congratulations to the ‘Nardo’ brothers on their success and great company. They are a great example and role model for any young entrepreneur and early stage company.
Michael Luchies is an entrepreneur, avid sports fan, and passionate supporter of everything entrepreneurship. He has been published on Under30CEO, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Sports, ThinkEntrepreneurship.com, Tuff Stuff Magazine, and many other outlets.
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