Mark Cuban had one question for entrepreneur Catlin Powers when she recently appeared on Shark Tank: "Do you think you could put the fear of God in Elon Musk and put them out of business?"
Powers immediately replied that she believed her company One Earth Designs had the power to do just that. Although all the other sharks weren't interested in Powers' solar grill, Cuban put down $500,000 for a 4 percent stake in her business.
Cuban saw more than a grill. He saw massive potential to usurp Elon Musk as king of solar energy. This comes just after Tesla announced a huge Home Depot partnership. Tesla will be showcasing their Powerwall battery and Solar Roof products in 800 Home Depot stores. A similar Lowe's partnership is reportedly in the works.
Tesla's first product was a car. For One Earth Designs, it's a solar-powered stove. But those were just the start for both companies. Both Tesla and One Earth Designs are poised for total solar power world domination.
Why Cuban thinks this is the next billion-dollar company
Powers has an inspiring story. When living and migrating with rural nomads and farmers in the Himalayas, she discovered the negative health effects they experienced from cooking indoors. So she designed her first product for One Earth Designs, the fuel-free outdoor solar stove. The resulting product, the SoulSource classic, goes for $499 and can boil water in 10 minutes.
When she pitched on Shark Tank, Cuban was less interested in the stove itself and more interested in the technology behind it. When he heard the next product she had in the works, Cuban was sold.
Powers told the sharks she's developing a solar battery that can collect and store energy for several days. "It stores energy in organic molecules over multiple days at a time, a lot like plants do," she explained. "It's a natural biomimicry system, and that system will allow us to cook at night and also cook indoors." And, she said, the battery could potentially be used for cars.
Sounded like dollar signs to Cuban. He said billion-dollar opportunities are rare on Shark Tank, and this was one.
Cuban offered $500,000 for 5 percent of One Earth Designs. Powers countered with 4 percent and a board seat. "Done," said Cuban, without missing a beat. They shook on it.
"Worst case, I am going to have the best-tasting steaks in all of America," Cuban told the other sharks.