The biggest deal in Shark Tank history is also the scariest.
Last October, haunted-attraction entrepreneur Melissa Carbone struck a $2 million deal with Mark Cuban for 20 percent of her horror entertainment company, Ten Thirty One Productions. The business creates and produces live Halloween-themed attractions, the most popular of which is the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, which attracts 60,000 people to the pitch black woods of LA's Griffith Park every year and generated $1.8 million in revenue last October.
During the summer months, Carbone's company hosts the Great Horror Campout, an immersive overnight experience in which 2,000 people take part in a haunted scavenger hunt with demonic forces and lost souls. The campout debuted in LA in 2013 before expanding to eight U.S. cities this past summer.
Founded in 2009, Ten Thirty One already has the competition running for the hills. Having generated $400,000 in revenue during its first year of business, the company is expected to collect nearly $3 million this year. Ten Thirty One has also had to triple its cast and crew to nearly 1,000 thanks in part to Cuban's record-breaking investment and mentorship.
"He's an amazing coach," Carbone says. "Having that resource to tap into on a daily basis is huge. Whenever we need some kind of partnership or vendor, he always has somebody that he can refer us to."
One of the most significant partnerships Cuban helped broker for Ten Thirty One has been with Ticketmaster, the largest ticketing platform in the U.S., servicing 60 million people.
In March, as a result of partnering with Cuban, Ten Thirty One also attracted an investment from Live Nation, the largest concert company in the country. Despite these partnerships, much of the value of having Cuban as an investor comes from the breadth of knowledge he's acquired as a serial entrepreneur.
"The best advice he's ever given me is, 'Don't drown in opportunity,'" Carbone says. "After Shark Tank, you get bombarded by people who want to work with you or work for you, and you want to do it all, but he pulls back the reins on us a little bit in that way, which is great."
In the next couple years, Ten Thirty One has plans to to add several new attractions, including a ghost ship the company beta tested in 2011 and haunted hayrides in Atlanta and San Francisco.
"The ultimate goal is that you will have a Ten Thirty One attraction in a city near you," Carbone says. "All of these brands become highly duplicable so that they can be in every major metropolitan area. That takes time, but we're moving pretty quickly."