‘Shark Tank’ Investor Bites On Portland Entrepreneur’s Hair Care Pitch

By Edward D. Murphy
Portland Press Herald, Maine.

A Portland salon owner didn’t get a lot of love from the business-funding stars on the network television show “Shark Tank” Friday night — but she did get a deal.

Alanna York, who owns the Head Games salon in Portland, sold 51 percent of her hair products business, Controlled Chaos, to businesswoman Lori Greiner for $60,000 after a short bidding war among three interested investors.

Greiner, who hawks many of the products she buys on the show on the QVC cable shopping network, said she would take only a third of any profits generated, despite buying a majority stake in the business.

York’s business acumen was criticized by the sharks, who listen to pitches from entrepreneurs and then decide whether to invest in the products or services. They said she was wrong to have designed a full line of hair care products — York said her distributor insisted on it — and urged her to concentrate instead on only Curl Up & Shine, which York said controls curls without leaving hair stiff.

York told the investors that she needed the $50,000 she was seeking to revamp the packaging. She was offering a 20 percent stake in the company in return.

York, who said she had invested $300,000 of her own money in the product line, admitted that the bottom line was not her primary focus.

“I believe in doing awesome things, with the money being a byproduct of that awesomeness,” she told the sharks.

Kevin O’Leary, a Canadian-based investor, opened with an offer of $50,000 for half the company, but said he would insist that she concentrate on the curl care product.

Grenier countered with an offer of $51,000 for 51 percent, a deal matched by investor Barbara Corcoran. Greiner then topped that offer with the $60,000 and asked York to make a decision.

“Only on ‘Shark Tank’ do you get a bidding war for a dying product,” investor Mark Cuban grumbled after York accepted Greiner’s offer.

York, who watched the ABC show with friends at a South Portland restaurant Friday night, said she was happy with the way the deal turned out.

“I’ve been selling this on QVC in my head for years,” she said.

York also said she was happy with how she presented herself on TV, although she thinks her best parts may have been left on the cutting room floor.

“There were some pretty awesome one-liners we didn’t get to see because of the — what is it? — rules of TV,” she said.

As for Curl Up & Shine, the packaging has been redesigned since the show was taped in September in Los Angeles, and an allotment offered through Amazon has sold out, York said.

She said the rate of sales on her own website was rapid Friday night and the product could sell out there, as well.

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