Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: McClatchy High grads just might swim with sharks - or other big fish

The founders of Bumbums & Baubles, Amanda Kludt and Caitlin Zapf, are all hush-hush about whether Sacramento will see them on the upcoming season of ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

Kludt is the Sacramento mom who wanted to buy her young daughter classic shoes to complement any attire. Her daughter, however, liked shoes with sequins and spangles. Kludt could never find a good compromise. She shared her frustration with Zapf, her old pal from their McClatchy High School days. Together, they dreamed up a business plan: Why not create classic-looking shoes with detachable baubles?

After a couple years of planning and talking, Kludt and Zapf started their footwear company, Bumbums & Baubles. Their shoes are selling in about 80 small stores across the nation, but Kludt and Zapf say they are close to deals with large retailers. To expand production, the two partners decided to audition for a chance to hook a multimillionaire investor on “Shark Tank.” The tryouts were in San Diego, where Zapf now makes her home and where Bumbums is officially headquartered.

As the duo waited hours to make a one-minute pitch, they saw some of the wackiest business ideas around.

“You’re going to hate me,” Kludt said, “because I can’t say anything. I’m bound by a confidentiality agreement.”

What she did say: Last year, of about 40,000 people tried out for the show, 180 actually made it to filming. And only 120 of those were aired on the Friday night show.

With those odds, it’s no wonder that Kludt and Zapf also took their campaign for angel funding to the streets of San Diego with a sign that read: “Will work for capital contribution of $500K.” Their guerilla tactic won them a meeting with – and an offer from – two angel investors.

“We would have gotten all the money we wanted, but we would have had to give up too much equity in our company,” Kludt said. “It was for $500,000, in exchange for 40 percent.”