ABC's Shark Tank celebrated Veterans Small Business Week by featuring four veteran entrepreneurs on Friday's episode, two of whom left the tank with new partners for their small businesses.
Veterans Small Business Week is an initiative led by the U.S. Small Business Administration to help veteran entrepreneurs grow their companies. Last year, the SBA supported $1.86 billion in loans for more than 3,000 veteran-owned businesses.
First into the tank Friday was Ashley Drake, an active duty captain in the Army and founder of the Natural Grip who came seeking $100,000 for 20 percent of her company. The year-old startup makes custom-fit hand grips for weightlifters and gymnasts to protect hands during high-rep training. The business generated roughly $180,000 in sales during its first year, and is projected to do $400,000 in 2014 and $1 million in 2015.
"Someone give this woman $100,000 and get her out of here," said shark Kevin O'Leary, a.k.a. Mr. Wonderful, who was impressed by the pitch but chose not to invest.
Robert Herjavec made the first offer--$100,000 for 30 percent--followed by FUBU's Daymond John, who asked for 40 percent but promised to pursue a partnership with Reebok. Drake negotiated both sharks down, ultimately striking a deal with Herjavec for 33 percent of the business.
After two veteran entrepreneurs failed to secure investments for their startups, former Navy SEAL Elijah Crane wowed the sharks with his year-and-a-half-old startup, Bottle Breacher. The company sells custom bottle openers made out of hollow 50 caliber bullets, all of which are produced by active duty service members, reservists, and veterans. The business generated $500,000 in sales last year and is projected to hit $840,000 in 2014.
Crane, who served three combat deployments to Iraq, attracted offers from O'Leary, John, and Mark Cuban, ultimately persuading Cuban and O'Leary to partner and invest a combined $150,000 for 20 percent of the business.
"Mr. Cuban, Mr. Wonderful, you guys are awesome," Crane said.
Stay tuned for more recaps every week.