Two years after graduating from Northeastern, I stood at a crossroads. I could continue working in the software industry, or I could gamble it all and pursue my dream of working with consumer goods. The challenge was how to make the transition.
Then, in 2005, I discovered a void in the market. My husband and I had moved into a tiny New York City apartment where our cat’s litter box was … a problem. I decided to toilet train her and hunted in vain for a product to help.
One month later I had launched my first business: CitiKitty, a 30-day cat toilet-training kit. Soon after, I handed in my job resignation to focus on growing CitiKitty. Still, I yearned for more.
In 2011, I got my break. I was selected from 30,000 applicants to pitch my business on the ABC show Shark Tank, where a panel of venture capitalists (the “Sharks”) vied to invest. The exposure alone boosted CitiKitty sales, but it was after the dust settled that I got the biggest boost of all.
Having witnessed firsthand how the Sharks turned small investments in their areas of expertise into multimillion-dollar enterprises, I decided to try it myself.
In 2012, I discovered HoodiePillow, a quirky product people seemed to love. I soon partnered with the founder to help bring the venture to a larger market. A few weeks later, a Shark Tank producer called to ask if I had any new startups, and I did. I was invited back on the show.
That second appearance really clarified that I wanted to spend my time starting companies and investing in products that solve consumer problems.
Eleven years ago, writer David McCullough spoke at Commencement and urged my classmates and me to follow our passions. I now understand why: When we pursue what we love, we’re filled with boundless energy.
Most important, it never feels like work.
Rebecca Rescate, AS’02, is the only participant in Shark Tank’s history to have appeared on the show twice. She still lives in New York and has since founded Rebecca Rescate Inc., a branding and marketing consulting business for entrepreneurs.