LOS ANGELES – They got an offer they could refuse on “Shark Tank.” Former University of Michigan basketball star, Charles Matthews, appeared on the hit ABC show on May 20 and turned down a deal with Mark Cuban and guest Shark, Kevin Hart.
Matthews founded The Players Trunk, an online marketplace where college athletes can sell their team-issued gear and branded merchandise. He started the company in July 2020 along with fellow former Wolverine player, Zavier Simpson and men’s basketball managers Jason Lansing and Austin Pomerantz along with Austin’s older brother Hunter.
“What’s up Sharks, my name is Hunter, alongside my partners, Jason, Austin and Charles. We’re here today seeking $650,000 in exchange for 5% of our company,” the group introduced themselves on the show to the Sharks.
“Having been a D1 college basketball player and playing for the NBA, I’ve witnessed the many challenges that athletes experience by not being able to monetize their brand,” Matthews continued in the pitch.
Charles and I would regularly walk by the campus book store and see jerseys with his number selling on them and not a penny went to him. As you can imagine, this really pissed us off,” added Jason Lansing.
There’s a lot of competition in this newer space now that college athletes can make money. Mark Cuban asked the guys from The Players Trunk what sets themselves apart from the rest.
“One, it comes down to relationships,” Austin Pomerantz told Cuban. “We’re young. We’re 21-23 year olds. College kids see the hustle, they see the grind. They can relate to us and also, we have licensing deals with 13 of the most prestigious universities, so that really adds value.”
Asking for a $13 million evaluation for an investment, “Mr. Wonderful,” Kevin O’Leary, wanted to know what their sales were. Their answer: $1.3 million in sales, doing most of the work while living on campus.
“We ran this and the $1.3 million in sales from our dorm rooms,” added Lansing. “So, now that we feel we actually have the opportunity to go on these college campuses, interact with the student athletes. Face-to-face is always better to get deals done. We feel like the sky’s the limit.”
THE SHARKS’ OFFER,
“At 5%, that’s extremely tough,” said guest Shark, Kevin Hart. “There has to be a major upside in return. Me and Mark were talking. I’m willing to make an offer, but you may not like it.”
“You’re asking us to give money, but you need us to go work for you,” added Cuban. “While venture capital money is great, Mark Cuban money and Kevin Hart money and name is a whole lot greater. It’s a whole different ballgame.”
The duo then asked for 30% of the company for $650,000.
“I don’t think there are better strategically aligned partners than you guys,” replied Lansing. “I think that from our standpoint, to come down to that evaluation, no matter who it’s with, it’s not in our best interest right now. I realize you can bring in star athletes. You have the star power.”
Matthews and The Players Trunk guys countered with $750,000 for 7 1/2 percent.
“I love that you are staying true to what you believe in, as you should,” said Hart, who declined, along with Cuban.
After turning down the offer from Cuban and Hart, the guys had this to say: “I think for us, it’s no regrets at all. I’m proud of the guys and proud that we stuck to our guns and walked away from the deal.”
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