The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In 2015, Sharon Bui and Kate Steadman both appeared on “Shark Tank” to pitch “Frill Clothing”, the Raleigh clothing company they founded while in college at N.C. State University and Appalachian State University. The duo is one of several Triangle companies to score deals on “Shark Tank” over the past few years.
Companies from the Triangle have had a good run of it lately on the popular reality competition, “Shark Tank,” which gives budding entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their ideas to notable investors.
“Shark Tank” attracts millions of viewers to its regular airings on ABC and re-runs on CNBC every week, making it a springboard to consumers for the many companies that come on to pitch their wares.
In the past five years, companies from the Triangle have landed hundreds of thousands of dollars on the show, and many continue to thrive today.
Here are some of the notable Triangle-based companies who have landed investments from the sharks.
Morrisville-based Dinesh Tadepalli’s edible cutlery startup Incredible Eats is the latest North Carolina startup to find success on the hit show “Shark Tank.”
In the Oct. 22 episode, Tadepalli landed multiple offers — a rare feat — from all of the sharks. Ultimately, he only accepted one.
Incredible Eats makes edible spoons that can be eaten rather than thrown into the trash. The company is built on the idea that if you offer consumers a tasty alternative to plastic, they will take it. Tadepalli originally got the inspiration for Incredible Eats while eating ice cream with his children. Like always, they threw away their plastic spoons after finishing their dessert.
In the episode recorded earlier in 2021, Tadepalli selected an investment offer from Lori Greiner, an entrepreneur who has had success in the cosmetics and jewelry industries. Greiner offered $500,000 for a 15% share of the company.
Tadepalli said he will use the money to hire some employees and to boost his inventory of spoons in anticipation of a more robust marketing campaign.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Tadepalli said of going on “Shark Tank.” “It is a big deal, especially in the U.S.”
In 2018, Raleigh’s Jonathan Hayes and his startup RewardStock appeared on the show’s 10th season.
RewardStock was an app that helped users optimize frequent-flyer miles and hotel and credit card reward points, and Hayes convinced Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to invest $320,000 in the company.
RewardStock ended up being successful, and Hayes sold the company last year to financial information giant Experian, The N&O previously reported. The price of the sale was not disclosed.
Wild Earth, a pet food company that recently opened a headquarters in Durham, appeared on “Shark Tank” in 2019, also on the show’s Season 10.
Wild Earth, led by Ryan Bethencourt, makes plant-based dog food, which it says can offer similar nutritional value as traditional dog food but with less of an impact on the environment.
After the appearance on the show, Wild Earth attracted an offer from Cuban, who promised a $550,000 investment.
The startup continues to grow fast. It recently raised $23 million from investors and claims it had 700% growth in revenue over the past year.
The company’s products are available on its own website, Amazon and Chewy.com. An 18-pound bag of Wild Earth dog food costs $70, though it can be less expensive if bought on a monthly plan.
Wine & Design
Raleigh company Wine & Design made its appearance on “Shark Tank” in 2017, bringing along a nude model to bring attention to her pitch.
Wine & Design, founded by the husband-and-wife duo of Patrick and Harriet Mills, offers customers nights of art classes, complete with a pairing of wine for groups and individuals. The classes are popular for events like birthday parties, bridal showers and team building.
The couple received an offer from Kevin O’Leary on the show.
Wine & Design has a presence across the country, including around 60 locations in 16 states. Its headquarters is in downtown Raleigh’s Union Station.
Justin Miller and Tom Simon, the co-founders of the Raleigh dog treat company Zookies Cookies, are another local company that had a successful run on “Shark Tank.”
Before Zookies, Miller was the founder of a startup called WedPics, a photo-sharing app. Simon was also a success tech entrepreneur, having sold Source 3, a company he co-founded, to Facebook.
Zookies makes bake-at-home dog cookie mix. The treats are made with human-grade ingredients like peanut butter, apples and coconut.
During their appearance on the show in 2019, Zookies agreed to an offer from Alli Webb, the founder of DryBar, who offered them $50,000 for 30 percent of their company.
The company sells “pawducts” like “Peanut Barker” and “Sweet Pawtato and Peanut Butter” in whimsical packaging.
In 2015, Sharon Bui and Kate Steadman both appeared on “Shark Tank” to pitch Frill Clothing, the Raleigh clothing company they founded while in college at N.C. State University and Appalachian State University.
Frill focuses on providing clothing and accessories to sororities. It also sold jewelry and home decor.
On the show, Bui and Steadman secured a $100,000 investment from O’Leary and Barbara Corcoran in exchange for a 30% stake in the company.
Bui and Steadman no longer lead the company, The Triangle Business Journal reported.
In 2017, Cary’s Shane Cox entered “Shark Tank” and pitched his company’s portable microphone, the Qball, to the sharks.
The Qball is a ball designed to hold a wireless microphone. The ball could then be passed around a large space, like a classroom, so that speakers could be heard over a microphone, said Cox, the CEO of PEEQ Technologies, which is based in Fuquay-Varina.
On the show, Cox got a $300,000 investment from Cuban, Greiner and Rohan Oza, for 30% of his company, GrepBeat reported.
This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work. Learn more; go to bit.ly/newsinnovate
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