The Painted Pretzel is a labor of love for Raven Thomas, who found herself in search of a home-based job after becoming a stay-at-home mom and giving up her career in criminal intelligence.
She created her many pretzel recipes in her own kitchen, but soon found that she was having trouble expanding her business to meet an increasing demand. Raven rented a larger kitchen, but couldn’t afford to pay employees and instead had to rely on her mother and sister to help out.
There was just no way that she could produce enough of them to fill all of the orders she was getting, so she needed a bit of help to scale things up. That’s why she went on ABC’s Shark Tank.
The television show is based on the idea that there are a lot of innovative and ambitious people among us, but not everybody has access to the resources they need to bring their ideas to fruition. The investors– or “sharks”– on the show listen to product pitches from ordinary people and decide whether or not they want to partner with them, right there on the spot. The deals they make on the show are very real, and often exceed six digits.
The story of Raven Thomas and her Painted Pretzels seems like a perfect one for the show, as she had done all that she could to increase her production at home and had no idea where to go or what to do next. She and her family worked as hard as they could to make the pretzels, but as bigger offers came in from retailers it began to seem completely impossible. Raven even says she had to turn down a $2 million dollar deal from Sam’s Club because she had no way of meeting the order.
Not all of the sharks were sold on the idea, but they did find unanimous agreement in saying that the pretzels were absolutely delicious. It was Mark Cuban who wound up making an offer for the business. He considered that even within his own existing businesses he could sell the product, envisioning the Painted Pretzel at Dallas Mavericks games, or at his Landmark Cinema locations. He offered Raven a $100,000 investment for 25% of her business, and she accepted.
Past products featured on Shark Tank– as well as on the program it is based on in other parts of the world, Dragons’ Den– have gone on to do extremely well in the open market. This isn’t your typical reality show where a winner is selected and often forgotten about shortly after, but a place where big business deals are made and products are given real support to ensure the best chance of success.
There is no telling exactly how far The Painted Pretzel will reach, but if Mark Cuban’s own interest is any indication, and the previously unwieldy deal with Sam’s Club is revisited, we could all have the chance to try them for ourselves in the very near future.