Daymond John of Shark Tank is lending his star power to the Lowe’s Cos. Inc. initiative to infuse $55 million in small business grants to minority-owned, women-owned and rural companies, according to a Tuesday (Sept. 15) press release.
The cash gifts are designed to provide emergency grants to help small business owners and underserved communities navigate the challenges imposed by the pandemic.
“Lowe’s had these dedicated grants for small business ... way before COVID-19 ... to give access to small businesses for distribution and that’s often the most important part after you have a product ... how do you get it to the masses,” John told CNBC Tuesday (Sept. 15). “Lowe’s wanted to give people this vehicle to do so without taking any percentage of their company like the sharks would.”
Damon, the 51-year old investor on the ABC reality television show and CEO of FUBU, the New York City-based hip hop apparel company, and the Fortune 50 company are inviting entrepreneurs to pitch their products directly to Lowe’s. The winner gets to sell the product on Lowes.com and its more than 2,000 do-it-yourself stores.
From Sept. 15 through Sept. 25, diverse small business owners are invited to apply on Lowes.com/MakingItWithLowes.
Lowe’s will select 375 small businesses and the list will be narrowed to 75 finalists who will be invited to submit their product pitch and stories via video.
That group will be reduced to five and will culminate in a one-day virtual pitch challenge hosted by John where five small business owners will pitch their product to Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison and other executives for the chance to win Lowe’s as a small business partner.
Leading up to the pitch, John said he will mentor the group as they prepare for their biggest pitch ever.
On how many people might apply, John told the network it could be a million.
“We get 40,000 applicants annually at Shark Tank, there are 30 million small businesses in the U.S. and 21 million are one-person shops,” he told CNBC. “We want people to step up.”
Asked what criteria he would use to select a winner, John said it will be different from Shark Tank.
Unlike on the show where his investment depends on factors such as how he will make money on whatever is being pitched, he has no such worries when selecting the winner of the Lowe’s prize.
“All I have to care about whether this [product] solves a problem, does it have empathy for a customer, is it making it lighter, faster, stronger or saving time for someone,” John said.