17yo’s ‘beyond impressive’ $1m idea
Naomi Simson met countless wannabe entrepreneurs during her time as a Shark Tank judge - but few more impressive than Melbourne teen Morgan Hipworth.
The dessert mogul and his doughnut business, Bistro Morgan, appeared on the show's season four premiere last year.
He was after $200,00 in exchange for 20 per cent equity in his business, which had a valuation of $1 million.
Ms Simson said the "young gun" had presented "one of the most memorable pitches" out of the hundreds she had seen during her time on Shark Tank.
"The 17-year-old was an absolute powerhouse - it was clear from the moment he set foot on set," the businesswoman said.
"He was in his final year at high school when he appeared on the show but spent every other waking moment dedicated to his doughnut business Bistro Morgan, and it definitely showed."
Mr Hipworth initially launched his business as a week-long pop-up after saving $55,000 from doughnut sales over the years.
He ended up selling 10,000 of them during an eight-day period - and in December 2016, Bistro Morgan opened in the same location off Chapel Street as a permanent store.
"It was beyond impressive, to say the least," Ms Simson said.
"He'd loved being in the kitchen since he was seven years old and was a true example of following your passion and not letting something like age stop you.
"Bistro Morgan is now a Melbourne sweet treat institution - regularly selling out of stock each day."
Last year, the teen told news.com.au he was a qualified food safety supervisor, and he also handled all the recipes, banking, invoices, HR, as well as running social media - including the brand's Instagram account, which now has more than 70,000 followers.
He said he owed most of his success to discovering his calling at a young age.
"The main thing was just that passion, I found I loved cooking," he said.
But Ms Simson said not all entrepreneurs were as dedicated as Mr Hipworth.
"There were ones who literally the minute they stepped off the set said 'thanks so much, we're off now', and you just knew they were only in it for the publicity," she told news.com.au.
"We would just roll our eyes and say 'whatever' because on US Shark Tank they're far more aggressive and will tell people 'don't waste our time', but we were more easygoing.
"But there are plenty of investments we still work with to this day."
Ms Simson is one of Australia's original entrepreneur success stories, having founded her online experience gift retailer RedBalloon from her couch in 2001.
She said a great part of her massive success came down to being "really early to market as a gift experience provider" at a time when the "experience economy was on the rise".
The $100 million company has gone on to become the largest online aggregator of experiences in Australia after recently acquiring fellow experience gift business Adrenaline.
Wider parent company Big Red Group has also recently launched the premium curated experiences brand IfOnly in Australia.
It offers "once-in-a-lifetime", "money-can't-buy" experiences with celebrities and "luminaries", with up to 80 per cent of the funds going to associated charities such as the Cancer Council, R U OK? and OzHarvest.
Some of those experiences now available to Australians include dinner at the SCG with Michael Clarke, the chance to meet pop star Ariana Grande and score VIP tickets to her US "Sweetener" tour and a Kevin Pietersen rhino conservation experience at South Africa's Umganu Lodge.