(Photo courtesy of the Howard County Economic Development Authority)
When the doors opened to ABC’s Shark Tank set, Hungry Harvest CEO Evan Lutz told us his heart was pounding. By the time he walked back through the doors, he had a new investor and the money that comes with it.
In an episode of the ABC show that aired Friday night, Lutz walked away with a $100,000 investment from Hervajec Group founder (and resident nice shark) Robert Herjavec.
Starting at a watch party at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship on Friday night, there were congratulations throughout the weekend. Lutz penned a letter to the show, saying it made his dreams come true.
“You have allowed me to show the vision I have — where there’s no food waste or hunger — to the whole nation. I could not be more grateful for everything you have done for the Hungry Harvest team,” he wrote.
The company even posted its website metrics following the show:
But the social entrepreneur also got some tough love from the other sharks.
Lutz, a 23-year-old graduate of the University of Maryland who now runs his produce delivery company out of Columbia, pitched the company’s focus on “ugly produce.” He stuck heavily to the social enterprise ethos, saying the company sourced produce that would otherwise be discarded, and quickly providing the stat that 1.2 pounds of produce are donated for every bag the company delivers.
After questioning from the panel, however, Lutz revealed the company had a net loss of $20,000 last year. Then, the teeth came out.
“Why donate when you’re not profitable?” panelist Kevin O’Leary asked, in true mean shark fashion.
Fellow shark Barbara Corcoran quickly dipped out, saying Lutz was “too in love with the idea,” and didn’t have enough grit to build the business.
But the social mission was a big plus for Herjavec, who said he doesn’t just want to write
checks cheques (he’s Canadian) these days.
— Robert Herjavec (@robertherjavec) January 9, 2016
“I’ve been looking for a way to give people an opportunity,” he said on the show. Herjavec then offered double what Lutz was seeking: a $100,000 investment for a 10 percent stake in the company.
But the drama spiked when Lutz initially said he wanted to hear from others.
Mark Cuban looked like he was angry at refs at a Mavs game, gesturing and yelling, “Oh!” That left an opening for another panelist, O’Leary, to consider a deal. But the other panelists pushed Lutz to take the deal from Herjavec, and he ultimately did. An embrace followed. TV magic. End scene.