Black founders raised only 1.3% of 2021’s $330 billion worth of U.S. venture investment. This is shocking, especially since African American women are the leading group of new entrepreneurs either launching or running businesses. The number of businesses owned by Black women jumped 50% from 2014 to 2019, representing the highest growth rate of any other demographic.
Despite these impressive figures, Black business owners are still at the bottom rung of the VC investment hierarchy. That’s why shows like Shark Tan are so important.
The ABC hit business series offers up-an-coming founders the opportunity to pitch in front of seasoned entrepreneurs and investors (Mark Cuban, Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran) to secure funding for their brands.
Over time, there have been incredibly inspiring stories featured on the show–but honestly, it hits different when the contestant wins big, and they’re Black.
We took a look at some of the most successful Black founders featured on Shark Tank and made us all proud.
Alexiou Gibson – The Transformation Factory
Alexiou Gibson weighed 500 pounds at just 21. After countless attempts at weight loss, he discovered sea moss and transformed his entire life.
“Like most teens, I believed that I was invincible,” Gibson shares. “I thought I would be fine and had time to get healthy later. It wasn’t until my doctor told me that I wouldn’t live to see my 30th birthday that I really understood how serious I needed to be about living.”
He went on to lose 100 pounds and founded The Transformation Factory, a sea moss supplement company.
This year, he and his team appeared on Shark Tank, and in an unprecedented move, the company was awarded $600,000 in investment funding from guest judge Kevin Hart and series regular Mark Cuban. This is the first time this has happened on a season finale episode. The brand is now focusing on expanding its distribution footprint.
Melissa Butler – The Lip Bar
Melissa Butler actually has one of the most triumphant stories in spite of her Shark Tank appearance.
The founder of Lip Bar, a cosmetics brand that touted fun lipstick pigments, received harsh criticism from the Shark Tank judges, particularly Kevin O’Leary (Mr. Wonderful). While delivering feedback after her pitch, O’Leary called the vegan brand “clown makeup” and ultimately rejected The Lip Bar.
Now, years later, the brand is flourishing and celebrated their 10-year anniversary. In a billboard celebrating the milestone, it read:
“Shark Tank’ told me to quit. 10 years and 2 million units sold,” read a billboard in Butler’s hometown of Detroit, MI to commemorate a decade in the business. “Thanks, Mr. Wonderful.”
Kim and Tim Lewis – CurlMix
When CurlMix founders Kim and Tim Lewis appeared on Shark Tank in 2019, they rejected an offer that didn’t feel like a fit for them. Less than 60 days later, they raised over $5 million in equity crowdfunding.
“We are democratizing the ability to invest by allowing our community to own a piece of the pie and come up with us,” says Kim Lewis, CEO of CurlMix, on LinkedIn as reported by Black Enterprise. “This is revolutionary in that no other black-owned beauty brand has ever done this. None. This is not a donation. It’s an investment.”
She continues, “By the year 2024, we expect to have $40M in annual revenue. We plan to create 100 jobs and obtain a manufacturing facility in an underserved minority community, right here in Chicago. We plan to build the first, publicly trade black-owned beauty conglomerate and hopefully be traded on the stock NYSE one day, like Procter & Gamble.”
Cora and Stef Miller – Young King
Cora and Stef Miller founded their haircare company Young King after noticing a lack of products targeting Black boys. After completing an accelerator with Target, they secured a distribution deal with the big box retailer and aimed to secure more funding with an appearance on Shark Tank earlier this year.
Since the couple’s appearance, the brand has continued to grow.
Mabel Frias – Luna Magic
According to Frias’s bio, she has led a team to scale the beauty brand into 2,500+ Walmart, Target and CVS stores nationwide. Her cosmetic brand, LUNA MAGIC was featured on Shark Tank in January of last year, and was offered $250,000 as a line of credit for 30% equity from Barbara Corcoran.
To date, the brand is sold in Walmart, Target, and CVS worldwide.
Josh Aviv – SparkCharge
Josh Aviv and Christopher, founders of SparkCharge, the mobile EV charging system, appeared on Shark Tank in 2020 and walked away with a million-dollar investment.