LaunchPad alumnus Josh Aviv ’15, G’17, founder and CEO of SparkCharge, walked away with a million dollar deal for his portable ultra-fast, modular electric vehicle (EV) charging system on ABC’s Shark Tank last Friday. The season premiere was a ratings runaway. SparkCharge got the million-dollar investment for 10% equity from sharks Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner, plus a small advisory stake. By comparison, a typical deal on Shark Tank is $238,000 and the average equity given up is 27% according to an analysis in the Hustle, a trade press that tracks deals.
By season ten the Sharks had seen 895 pitches, made 499 deals, invested $143.8m, and drove $1B in company valuations, according to the Hustle analysis. Of those who made it to main stage, 56% successfully made a deal and only 22 of the 895 entrepreneurs who pitched came away with a deal of more than a million dollars.
Aviv started SparkCharge in the Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars at Syracuse University, built his first prototype in the Kimmel MakerSpace and graduated into his first R&D lab at the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems Innovations. He went on to become a dynamic figure in the clean-tech community and remains an active member of the LaunchPad, serving on the Founders Circle and as the LaunchPad’s entrepreneur in residence. He was also a judge for Friday’s ‘Cuse Tank competition, just before appearing on Shark Tank.
The LaunchPad hosted a Shark Tank viewing party during the broadcast, with LaunchPad alumni watching from home and texting in from around the country to share in the excitement and success of their friend and fellow founder. Many of them had also built their student startups in the LaunchPad alongside Aviv, working together over the past four years, and the shared comradery runs deep.
It was a double milestone week for SparkCharge. Besides negotiating the million dollar deal with the sharks, the company also launched its new Roadie model and an EV Boost mobile app which allows customers to order a charge on demand.
In addition to the Shark Tank investment, SparkCharge recently closed a $3.3 million seed round led by PJC with participation from Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, PEAK6 Strategic Capital, M&T Bank, and Tale Venture Partners, in addition to other investors. This brings SparkCharge’s total funding to $5 million since its launch in 2017. The company is using the investments to scale manufacturing and drive sales demand.
Aviv is not the only Syracuse University alumnus to get a deal from the sharks. The top success story in the history of the show went to Scrub Daddy, founded by Aaron Krause ’92. Scrub Daddy is a reusable ergonomically shaped super sponge in the shape of a smiling face that gets firm in cold water and soft in warm water. After Shark Lori Greiner invested $200,000 for 20 % equity in a 2012 episode, Scrub Daddy scaled to 10 million units and sales of more than $50 million. Before Shark Tank, the company had $100,000 in sales.
By 2019, the company had sold more than 25 million of the popular cleaning sponges, and the company was worth more than $170 million. Read the behind the scenes story of Aaron Krause, Scrub Daddy and Shark Tank here.
Krause is a prolific inventor and is currently starting up four other companies. He is a graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in psychology.