Laura Lady is, in the words of multiple “Shark Tank” stars, a “dream entrepreneur.”
The second-generation Honduran-American launched her Concord, New Hampshire-based startup FryAway out of her garage with $2,000 in 2021. It was cash-flow positive within two months, and brought in $700,000 in revenue in its first full year of business, Lady said on Friday’s episode of the ABC television show.
Those details helped Lady land a $250,000 investment offer from Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner, a lucrative deal that took some effort to assemble.
Lady’s initial request: $250,000 for 10% of FryAway, which makes and sells a powder that congeals leftover vegetable oil in your pots and pans, so you can throw it away rather than pour it down the drain. She wanted help covering fees incurred by selling her product on Amazon — $300,000 of fees in just her first year of business, she said.
At first, Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, and Robert Herjavec expressed concern that FryAway wasn’t on trend. As food companies make healthier products, fried foods could become obsolete, they argued.
Lady responded by telling the Sharks about “fatbergs,” which occur when the liquid grease you pour down the drain solidifies further down the pipes, clogging sewers.
Fatbergs present a significant problem, especially in major cities: In 2017, a 140-ton mass was found in London sewers, additionally cementing other items like tampons, condoms, fake teeth and narcotics. If left alone, the sewers would have clogged and waste would flood city streets.
In this instance, the fatberg occupied about a sixth of a mile, and took three weeks to fully remove, according to The New York Times. That same year, 1.2 million gallons of sewage overflowed into a Baltimore stream due to a fatberg.
O’Leary, Herjavec, and Daymond John weren’t sold. John said he was impressed by Lady’s gumption, but didn’t feel equipped to help her without asking for a much larger share of her company.
Cuban seemed disinterested too, until Lady said she thought her product could potentially succeed internationally. That piqued Cuban’s interest.
“If you want me to be your Shark, just make me an offer I can’t refuse,” he said.
Greiner chimed in, calling Lady a “dream entrepreneur” who “was doing every single thing right.” She said she would invest $250,000 for 20% of FryAway.
Cuban asked Greiner if she’d be willing to partner on that offer. The catch: He wanted to split 25% of FryAway, rather than 20%.
Despite the additional equity, Lady said she was interested: Two Sharks could be more beneficial than one. She negotiated Cuban and Greiner down to 22%, and the trio struck the deal.
As Lady exited the stage, Cuban leaned in and told her she was a star. John echoed Greiner and Cuban, also calling Lady a “dream entrepreneur.”
“I couldn’t have asked for a better combination,” Lady said. “[Cuban and Greiner] are a power team, and I think the three us of are going to be absolutely unstoppable.”
Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”
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