While Mark Cuban isn't known for social entrepreneurship, in last week's episode of Shark Tankhe showed an altruistic side, laced with patriotism. 

"I'm a huge believer in business over bullets, and if we're going to have any impact on the rest of the world, we've got to export the American Dream," he said before backing a seller of flip-flops made from combat boots in Bogota, Columbia, jewelry made from land mines in Laos, and sarongs and scarves made in Afghanistan.

The company is Combat Flip Flops, a socially-conscious clothing and accessories company in Issaquah, Washington, founded by former Army Rangers. The theme of the episode was veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs.

 inline image

Rangers Matthew Griffin, Donald Lee and Andy Sewery founded the company in 2012 with a goal to "make cool products and dangerous places" and create jobs in regions torn apart by war. 

The concept may be simple, but the logistics are not. Griffin told Inc. that for the first three years, the company couldn't find investors. Most thought the manufacturing costs would be too high to get it off the ground. Combat Flip Flops had to purchase everything in cash and offer its wares on a pre-sale basis on its website. 

"When you say it out loud, it sounds kind of crazy," Griffin admits.

Under those constraints, the company generated $134,000 in sales last year--only 5 percent of which translated to net revenue. Normally it would be enough to make the sharks balk--and Robert Herjavec and Kevin O'Leary did. 

"I'm challenged with how you would scale this. It's too many products for the size of your business," Herjavec said.

Cuban jumped to Griffin and Lee's defense, saying that the mission alone made the company worth investing in.

Lori Greiner was the first shark to indicate a willingness to strike a deal. She said that she liked the company's mission, but was hesitant about the risk. She asked Daymond John and Cuban if they would go in on a deal. 

John and Cuban initially shut out Greiner and made an offer of their own--$200,000 for 25 percent of the company. 

Lee and Griffin, saying that they wanted a "feminine touch," asked if Cuban and John could let in Greiner--in exchange for more cash. All three sharks agreed. They invested $300,000 in exchange for 30 percent equity. The founders had come into the tank seeking $100,000 in exchange for a 10 percent stake. 

"We think Mark's going to be able to help us dominate the tech space, Daymond's going to be able to help us with branding, Lori's going to be able to help us with distribution. It's a dream team," Griffin said on the show. He told Inc. that the deal had officially closed this week.

Greiner told Inc., "Often in combat we can destroy areas that then can be difficult to restore. These Army Rangers thought of a way to solve this issue, and it felt to me a morally responsible action that could pay for itself and pay it forward." Cuban and John did not respond to requests for comment.