Ehime Eigbe was searching for healthy dessert alternatives in her kitchen when she stumbled onto a million-dollar idea.
The whipped, frozen Greek yogurt delicacy she put together became Sweetkiwi, a Dallas-based food startup founded in 2011. Today, the company’s desserts appear in more than 2,000 retail stores across the country, including Whole Foods, Walmart and Kroger, Eigbe tells CNBC Make It.
And on Friday’s episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” Eigbe and her business partner — her husband, Michael Kindele — landed a $250,000 investment deal with Robert Herjavec valuing the company at more than $1.5 million.
Eigbe, Sweetkiwi’s CEO, is a 38-year-old, Nigerian-born mother of two. She initially offered the Sharks 5% of her company for that $250,000 investment, noting that the money would go toward brand-building and marketing. It could also help Sweetkiwi escape its “breakeven cashflow” and work toward profitability, Kindele added.
The duo expressed confidence despite their industry’s heavy competition, noting that Sweetkiwi pints have less sugar than most other frozen yogurts.
“It’s made from real milk sourced from smallholder family owned farms, and each pint boasts 22 grams of protein, prebiotic fiber, gut healthy probiotics and a unique blend of immunity boosting superfoods, all of which are better together,” Eigbe and Kindele said.
The pitch impressed Kevin O’Leary, who offered them a deal. “This category is very crowded,” O’Leary said. “The fact that you got Kroger … it’s very hard to get in. I’ll give you $250,000 for 20%.”
After O’Leary made his offer, most of the other Sharks in the episode — Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner and Daymond John — pulled themselves out of consideration. Eigbe and Kindele tried to re-entice them, angering O’Leary enough to make him rescind.
“Alright, alright, I’m out. Out. Gone,” O’Leary said. “I don’t know what you’re doing … Mr. Wonderful is pissed.”
That left only Robert Herjavec as a potential investor, who re-offered O’Leary’s terms: $250,000 for 20% of Sweetkiwi.
“I don’t have a lot of investment in this space, but I love this space and I want to learn,” Herjavec said. “There are no two better people that I’m going to put my money into than the two of you.”
Eigbe and Kindele countered with $250,000 for a 7.1% stake, plus 5% in advisory shares. Herjavec’s final offer was $250,000 for a 16% stake in the company — which Sweetkiwi accepted.
“We just keep at it. We just keep pushing no matter what. And that was what you can see on ‘Shark Tank’ as well,” Eigbe now says. “It didn’t matter what Mr. Wonderful had to say. We’re going to keep pushing and keep trying to close a deal.”
“I hope that Robert and I, and the team, can build a billion-dollar company,” she adds.
Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”
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