This time last year, Howard County’s Hungry Harvest was going through a growth spurt and managing its daily operations with only three employees.
Last Friday, Hungry Harvest appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank seeking a $50,000 investment for five percent equity in the company.
What a difference a year makes.
Hungry Harvest’s journey to a national expansion began when Shark Tank producers reached out after learning about the company’s unique business model. Co-founder and CEO Evan Lutz tells us his business needed “all hands on deck” at the time, but decided to fill out an application for the show in April.
Two months later, Evan received the call that Hungry Harvest was being flown to Los Angeles to pitch to the sharks. And as they say, the rest is history.
To celebrate its television debut, the company hosted a viewing party Friday evening with family, friends, and a few familiar faces. Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, County Executive Allan Kittleman, and representatives from the Economic Development Authority and Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship – where Hungry Harvest is a resident company – were all in attendance for the big event.
As seen on ABC, Lutz entered the tank and presented the company’s business plan with heart. Six-billion pounds of produce goes to waste each year, and Hungry Harvest is looking to change that. The company purchases “ugly” produce from farmers and wholesalers that won’t make it to grocery stores, repackages it, and sells to customers through a variety of subscription packages.
But it was Lutz’s community involvement that resonated with the panel. For every box of produce sold, Hungry Harvest makes a food donation to a local non-profit organization.
Robert Herjavec, a global security leader and business guru on Shark Tank, immediately offered to double Lutz’s request to $100,000 for 10 percent. “I have been looking for a way to give people an opportunity that empowers them,” said Herjavec. “This is something that I want to do.”
Lutz accepted the offer and walked away with an exciting partnership to make his home state proud.
— Robert Herjavec (@robertherjavec) January 9, 2016
“Shark Tank was an absolutely exhilarating experience, and jumpstarted our company to expand our mission across the country. Not only did millions of viewers see our mission and vision for a world without food waste and hunger, but we also came out of the Tank with a proud partner in Robert,” said Lutz. “He’s a perfect fit for our organization – a business leader with a heart.”
“To come right out of college and decide that you want to start a company that is dedicated to helping people in your community, while tackling food waste is a really incredible thing,” said Peter Ettinger, Executive Director for the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship.
“We’re very happy to start this partnership, and we look forward to a waste-free and hunger-free US!” said Lutz.