A company founded by U graduates was featured on the ABC reality show “Shark Tank” last Friday.
The company, Power Practical, was founded by David Toledo and Paul Slusser, graduates in material science and engineering from the class of 2010. Toledo participated in the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute’s Foundry Program as a U student, and Power Practical has been growing ever since. The company’s flagship product is the PowerPot, a camping tool which can create power from water and heat.
Thad Kelling, director of marketing and public relations at the Lassonde Institute, was happy with the institute’s involvement in Power Practical’s success.
“We’re so pleased to have been a part of this,” Kelling said.
The episode of “Shark Tank” that featured the company was filmed last July, and Toledo and Slusser have been under a strict confidentiality agreement since. Now that the episode has aired, they are able to be more open about their experience as well as the amount of money their company received from the show.
On the show, four of the five “sharks,” or business investors, who judged their product said no, but the fifth, Mark Cuban, an entrepreneur who owns the Dallas Mavericks, said yes and chose to invest $250,000 in Power Practical.
“Having somebody like Mark Cuban invested in the company is a huge value,” Kelling said. “He knows what will make a company succeed. Not only do they now have a quarter of a million dollars of his money, but they also have his advice and guidance. That advice is potentially worth more than a quarter million dollars.”
Matt Ford, Power Practical’s current CEO, is also a graduate from the U. Almost a year ago, Ford and the founders of the company were contacted by “Shark Tank” producers, who thought Power Practical was a good fit for the reality show. At first, Ford expressed excitement over having been reached out to, but he ultimately wondered whether or not the process would be worth it.
“There was a moment where we thought ‘maybe this will be a bigger pain in the neck than what it’s worth,’ ” Ford said.
But in the end, Power Practical chose to go through with the application process and were invited to come on the show. Ford said they prepared for their appearance by doing mock sessions of the process they would go through on Shark Tank.
“It’s a fair amount of preparation for not knowing what we’re prepared for,” he said.
Following the company’s successful deal on Shark Tank, Ford said the company has a lot in store for the following months. They plan on beginning another crowd funding effort this fall — they have already done three, with each raising over $150,000. They also plan to focus more on their products other than the Power Pot, as well as producing a Power Pot with 10 watts of power rather than five.
“To be a company, you’ve got to innovate, develop new products and constantly think about what’s coming next,” Ford said.
Kelling believes stories like this are a perfect example to other business and entrepreneurship students at the U.
“Stories like this do nothing but inspire students to do the same,” he said.