Shark Tank Atlanta rocks for Buzz Pop Cocktails
Joseph Isaacs, left, and Juan Sastre of Buzz Pop Cocktails make their pitch to a Shark Tank producer
“Shark Tank” came to SunTrust Park on Sunday, and so did hundreds of entrepreneurs hoping to pitch their products to the show’s “sharks.”
The ABC show brings together aspiring business owners with wealthy investors for a chance to pitch their big ideas and hopefully find funding for their plans.
Would-be contestants from across the South showed up bright and early in front of the Comcast Central Division Headquarters at The Battery. Some brought lawn chairs and blankets to fight off the morning chill, others clutched prototypes of their inventions.
The MDJ spoke with several of the early arrivals outside as they awaited what they hope will be their big break.
One Marietta resident was near the front of the pack in the long queue, Amy Pugh, founder of Salvador Kitti boutique, which creates fashionable apparel, jewelry and accessories with a wildlife theme and donates a portion of proceeds to conservation funds.
The MDJ first profiled Pugh and her business when she was starting out in 2011. She said business has grown about 20 percent per year since then, and her goods are now in over 50 locations. But she said she could use the sharks’ investment to help it grow even more.
“It’s mainly going to be marketing, advertising and buying inventory,” she said. “The main problem now is just a lot of distribution issues, trying to get things into big stores. Today I talked to someone in a zoo in Switzerland. We are a niche market, but it’s hard to get in touch with the right buyer sometimes. It’s kind of like trying to get in touch with the Wizard of Oz.”
Near her was Amy “Sacy” Bryant, a Buckhead resident and nurse at Atlanta’s Shepherd Center. Her invention is a modified electric wheelchair she said will reduce the risk of blood clots and skin problems by keeping patients moving.
“It rocks and the footrest oscillates, but what’s really fun about this chair is it moves people that can’t move, and they enjoy it … I believe that every single person who needs a power wheelchair will want one with my improvement because most wheelchairs don’t do anything, people get sores and blood clots,” she said. “Blood clots kill people.”
Angela Willingham of Winder, Georgia, was close by with a mannequin hidden under a trash bag. Beneath was a prototype of her product, a line of one-piece swimwear for women that makes it easier to use the restroom without disrobing. She calls it Ezy-Peezy swimwear.
“Instead of taking off your entire suit, you can just disconnect the bottom as you need to, go to the bathroom and pull it back up, and you still have the top of the suit on, and it’s still connected on one side,” she said.
Some of the products are high-tech, like an app devised by Akber Gilani and Shahzeen Rehman of Decatur. It’s called Seat Check, and Gilani said it’s like Uber or Lyft for restaurant tables.
If you are dining in a restaurant alone, you can post on the app to let others know they are welcome to join you, or you can use it to find a seat in a busy restaurant.
“You can meet new people, have a good time,” Gilani said. “The advantage for you is you don’t have to eat alone, and the person who’s running late for work or anything else can share a table with you and save time. The restaurants make more money, the waitresses make more tips, and it’s a win-win situation for everybody.”
Further back in the line, two men with beverage-related products were chatting. Michael Felkins of San Diego was showing off his Jar Bar, a handle that screws on securely to any size Mason jar for easy drinking. He was chatting with Joseph Isaacs, CEO of Buzz Pop Cocktails.
His product is a bit like the Push Pops carried by the local ice cream man, but these are decidedly adult. They are made from Italian sorbet and contain 15 percent alcohol. They come in a range of flavors like Moscow mule, lemon drop martini and Caribbean breeze.
Isaacs said he has found success selling to pool bars, hotels, cruise lines, festivals, sporting arenas and convention centers, but he hopes to use the sharks’ investment funds to increase the production capacity at his Las Vegas headquarters.
“We’ve blown out all of our production capability with sales already, and I need to run another automated line so we can quadruple our production, quadruple our sales,” he said. “We’re basically maxed out.”