Mark Cuban, billionaire investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” says the so-called American Dream is “why I do the show and that kind of drives what I invest in.”
And on Wednesday’s episode of “Shark Tank,” Cuban invested in two founders, Barbara Heilman and her daughter Becca Davison, who he called “the American Dream team.”
Heilman and Davison created UnbuckleMe, a tool that makes it easier to unbuckle kids’ car seats. (Car seat buckles require 9 pounds of pressure to release, according to Davison.)
“UnbuckleMe is a patented tool that uses a lever to reduce the force to unbuckle a child’s car seat by more than 50%. It’s a simple machine,” Davison said during the episode.
Heilman and Davison gave each Shark a car seat buckle, asking them to first try and unbuckle the seat without the tool, then with it.
“If you have nails, that’s a problem,” Shark Lori Greiner said, trying to unbuckle without the tool.
After using UnbuckleMe, Greiner was impressed.
“Wow, that’s night and day,” she said.
Heilman is an occupational hand therapist, and through her work found that the tool would be useful for those who have arthritis and cannot apply enough pressure to unbuckle the car seat alone, the co-founders said.
However, Shark Kevin O’Leary expressed concern that the target market for UnbuckleMe is too small.
“Grandparents [account for] about half of our sales,” Davison said. “But let me tell you why the market gets bigger — 30[%] to 40% of our sales are actually to younger families who are buying this for what we call the ‘school drop-off line scenario.’
“[Parents] are actually handing [the UnbuckleMe] to the second or third row to a 4- or 5-year-old to unbuckle themselves, hand it back to mom or dad in the front seat,” Davison said. (When not in use it should be stored out of the reach of kids, according to Davison.)
“Carpool line moves faster. They don’t have to get out of the car.”
Cuban was impressed. “It’s stressful being in a carpool line,” he said.
Once Davison revealed that in addition to Heilman being an occupational therapist, she herself is a child passenger safety technician, Cuban got even more excited.
“You’re … [t]he dream team!” he said.
To seal the deal, Heilman and Davison impressed the Sharks with their sales figures. The product costs $1.80 to make and sells for $14.99, they said. The company’s total sales (22 months at the time of filming) was $400,000.
“You have answers Becca, I must say,” O’Leary said. He teamed up with guest Shark, 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki to offer a royalty deal. But Heilman and Davison, who initially asked the Sharks for a $100,000 investment in return for 10% stake in the company, felt a perpetual royalty was too risky.
That’s when Cuban and Greiner stepped in.
“You guys are the American Dream team,” Cuban said. “You’re exactly why people watch this show, because they want to have that idea, they want to come on and be on that carpet.”
“We’re going to give you $100,000, no royalty, [for] 20% [equity] split between us,” Greiner said.
Shark Daymond John then offered a $100,000 investment for 15% equity.
Ultimately, the idea of going into business with two Sharks was more appealing and Heilman and Davison accepted Cuban and Greiner’s deal.
“We’re so excited with Mark and Lori on our team,” Davison said.
Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”