‘Shark Tank’ reruns and mentorship prepared Baltimore entrepreneur for her primetime moment

In 2017, Dawn Myers stumbled upon a “Shark Tank” episode that would change the trajectory of her entrepreneurial journey forever.

The CEO of Richualist was watching a recap episode featuring the Sleep Styler, a product that had captured the attention of Shark Tank investor Lori Greiner. She soon recognized a crucial oversight.

“This was not a product that was going to work on Black hair,” said Myers.

It got her thinking about how much money Black women spend on their hair, the wide range of products for them and how she could fill a market gap. That’s how The Mint, our 2023 Technical.ly Awards Invention of The Year, was created.

On Friday, April 5, this early realization comes back around as Myers’ own “Shark Tank” appearance airs at 8 p.m. on ABC.

“None of those men on that stage were going to make that investment,” said Myers about the episode where Sleep Styler and its founder Tara Brown sought investment. “But Lori saw her and she understood that there was innovation and value there. Being able to thank Lori for that was an amazing full circle moment.”

The “Shark Tank” episode, along with Greiner’s investment into the Sleep Styler and Baltimore-area vegan food entrepreneurs Marvin and Aleah Montague, weren’t the sole sources of inspiration and support for her TV debut.

“The Baltimore ecosystem really got behind me,” said Myers, acknowledging the contributions of figures like Mac Conwell from RareBreed Ventures; Adam Phillips, the managing director for the Techstars Equitech accelerator in which Myers previously participated; and Jamie McDonald, former CEO of UpSurge Baltimore.

Myers also highlighted the backing of further-afield supporters like the DC-based 1863 Ventures’ team and Kwame Anku, the founding managing partner and chief investment officer of Black Star Fund in Sacramento, California.

“He really helped me craft my ask, refine my pitch really granularly. On the day of shooting, he wasn’t there physically, but he was there by phone,” said Myers of Anku. “Every time I got a question or I wanted to change my pitch or, you know, I got some intel from maybe the legal team that I wanted to run past him — he was there in a big way.”

Myers mentioned that her company, Richualist, is currently in the middle of a fundraising round for The Mint and hadn’t anticipated the episode airing in the middle of it. Still, she remains optimistic about the opportunity it presents. Thus far, her company has leveraged micro-influencers to spread the word about The Mint; she said that it’s these individuals and her customers who keep her grounded during big moments like this.

“We’re in technical hardware. It’s very hard,” said Myers. “This is really, really tough stuff. You get discouraged, but when that discouragement comes, you know, I go directly to my customer, and that customer reminds me that this is real.”

Those who want to find out more about The Mint and whether it got support from the sharks can tune in when the episode airs Friday on ABC. They can go further and watch with Myers and her supporters at a special viewing event in DC that evening, too.

Celebrate with Myers at DC Navy Yard

She’s emphatic about this stage: “I am in pure celebratory mode.”

Disclosure: This article mentions RareBreed Ventures, in which Technically Media CEO Chris Wink is a limited partner. That relationship is unrelated to this report.

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