Mark Cuban isn't one to hide his emotions, especially if an entrepreneur on Shark Tank mentions that she has a connection to Texas. That typically elicits a whoop from the Dallas-based serial entrepreneur and Mavericks co-owner.
Cuban isn't a fan of Texas just because he lives there; he also made his fortune in the state. Broadcast.com, the internet radio station he co-founded in 1995 and sold to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in 1999, was also based in Dallas. He still believes North Texas, especially, is a beneficial ecosystem for founders.
"North Texas, for 1,000 reasons, is easily one of the best places for entrepreneurs to get started," Cuban said during his 2015 keynote speech at the North Texas Commission, a group that works to promote regional development.
Cuban added Silicon Valley has a "club for exits," but that Dallas is better for building a business. "My businesses require brainpower and effort, and there's no shortage of that here," he said.
That thesis extends to Cuban's Shark Tank investments. Here are four of the more notable Texas-based companies the investor has backed and why.
Co-founders Adelle Archer and Garrett Ozar's Austin-based business gives customers a way to memorialize loved ones by turning their ashes into diamonds. Clients choose the stone's cut, color, and weight and Eterneva mounts it onto a piece of jewelry, like a ring or pendant.
The company launched in 2017 and appeared on Shark Tank two years later, seeking $600,000 for 5 percent equity in the company. Despite some negotiations about equity, the duo accepted Cuban's offer of $600,000 for 9 percent equity and 1 percent in advisory shares.
"I love this idea," he told the co-founders on the show, noting that the potential use-cases could extend beyond honoring a loved one after his or her death. "I would have loved to take a hair from my kids when they were born and put it in a diamond and give it to my wife as a gift."
2. Ice Shaker
In 2016, former NFL player Chris Gronkowski created an insulated bottle--made from kitchen-grade stainless steel, which doesn't absorb odor--that can hold ice for more than 30 hours. Today, his Colleyville-based business, Ice Shaker, sells 11 versions of his shakers and tumblers.
Gronkowski pitched the Sharks in 2017, seeking $100,000 in exchange for 10 percent equity. He scored a joint deal between Cuban and guest judge Alex Rodriguez for $150,000 for a 15 percent stake. As Cuban and Rodriguez made their offer, they listed all the places they could sell the product and its potential for expansion.
"You can go to the Yankees and fitness clubs," Cuban said when negotiating with Gronkowski, suggesting places he and Rodriguez could sell the Ice Shaker. "We can put this in the Mav locker rooms."
3. Villy Custom
Fleetwood Hicks's Dallas-based business sells customizable cruiser bicycles for adults. Customers can choose their bike's tires, handlebars, and seat, among other things.
He launched the business in 2009 and appeared on Shark Tank six years later seeking $500,000 in exchange for 33 percent equity. He made a deal with Cuban and Barbara Corcoran for a $500,000 investment in exchange for 42 percent equity.
The duo agreed that Hicks's product was unique and that made it even more enticing. "There is nothing else like that," Cuban said on Shark Tank. "My first order is going to be a Mavs version."
4. Monkey Mat
Christie Barany and Courtney Turich launched their Austin-based portable floor startup in 2011 after yearning for a clean surface for picnics or when attending local festivals. The company's product line includes weighted mats geared toward outdoor activities, children, and pets.
The duo appeared on Shark Tank in 2014 seeking $100,000 for 30 percent equity. Cuban and Lori Greiner partnered to offer them $100,000 for a 35 percent stake in the business.
Cuban said he liked that the product is convenient and has many uses. "My wife, in a heartbeat, would do it because it's for those times you don't expect something to happen," Cuban told the co-founders on the show.