Entrepreneur Mont Hanley came to the tank pitching a revolutionary new product: dirt. Well, not exactly. His Pittsburgh-based company PittMoss manufactures an alternative to peat moss, which grows in bogs and is used as fertilizer. Because harvesting peat moss produces 1 billion tons of carbon pollution every year, Hanley invented a new product made from recycled newspaper and a secret formula of organic additives that he says is cheaper than peat moss and superior in every way.
"We can actually save growers 15 percent on their operating costs," he said.
Hanley came to the tank seeking $600,000 for 25 percent of his company, but ran into trouble after disclosing that his business only had $22,000 in sales.
Sharks Barbara Corcoran and Lori Greiner both passed on investing, but Cuban, Robert Herjavec and Kevin O'Leary didn't mind PittMoss's low sales, especially after learning Hanley had $168,000 in purchase orders he didn't have capacity to fulfill. The sharks also saw dollar signs when Hanley said that a widespread switch from peat moss to a sustainable alternative is basically a forgone conclusion.
"There are already governments around the world that are banning the use of peat moss in horticulture," he said.
O'Leary quickly offered $600,000 for 40 percent of the business, which Hanley negotiated down to 35 percent, but Cuban had other ideas.
"I don't think we'd have a problem if the three of us went in together," he said.
At $200,000 each, Cuban, Herjavec and O'Leary offered Hanley exactly what he wanted, for 35 percent of the company.
"I think that sounds like a great deal," Hanley said. "This means that I can actually make a living building on the dream that I had for 20 years, so that's a really amazing feeling.
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