Why Startup VIM & VIGR Said No To Shark Tank

Michelle Huie wearing her products

Most fans of “Shark Tank” assume that entrepreneurs are clamoring to appear on the hit business pitch show. But Michelle Huie, 37, founder and CEO of VIM & VIGR, turned down an invitation to apply. Her three-year-old business, based in Missoula, Montana, makes $33 compression socks in brightly colored stripes, argyle and flower patterns. A graduate of the University of Chicago and the Kellogg School of Management, she was working as a pharmaceutical sales rep in Missoula, where she moved to be with her romantic partner, a professor at the University of Montana, when she got the idea for her startup. Until three months ago, she ran VIM & VIGR while holding down her full-time job. Aside from a $100,000 loan from the Small Business Association, she bootstrapped the company. Though she sells the socks on Amazon and on her website, her focus has been small retail stores. More than 1,000 stores carry the socks. She has 16 employees in Montana and expects $3 million in revenue this year. In this interview, which has been edited and condensed, she talks about building her company and why she didn’t want to pitch it to the sharks.

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