Fox Chapel native's company to be featured on episode of 'Shark Tank'
Billionaire businessman Mark Cuban saw something extra-sweet in a sugar-scrub company.
So, the owner and chairman of AXS TV and outspoken owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks invested in the venture, Simple Sugars, founded by 20-year-old Lani Lazzari of Fox Chapel, after she made her pitch on ABC's “Shark Tank” in 2013.
Cuban is one of the sharks on “Shark Tank,” a business-themed show where budding entrepreneurs try to get tough, self-made, multi-millionaires and billionaires to invest in their businesses and products.
Lazzari and Cuban, a Mt. Lebanon High School graduate, will be part of a special behind-the-scenes show called “Shark Tank: Swimming with Sharks,” which follows up on some of the projects the sharks have invested in.
It airs at 8 p.m. May 2 on ABC before the show's regular time slot at 9 p.m.
“I saw the drive Lani had and, of course, her intelligence,” says Cuban via email. “I can't say I'm an expert on scrubs, but I can spot talent.”
He was right. Lazzari has grown Simple Sugars (www.simplesugars.myshopify.com) since its inception in 2005, when at age 11 she created an all-natural product that was safe for sensitive skin like hers. She has quadrupled her employees and brought in $2.1 million in sales this past year.
“Lani is amazing,” says Cuban, who visited her Sharpsburg office. “With most ‘Shark Tank' companies I have to offer a lot of feedback and advice. Lani is the opposite. She is a natural entrepreneur with great business instincts and work ethic.”
“Working with Mark Cuban has been great,” Lazzari says. “He and his team have helped me a lot. He knows business, and he and his family use Simple Sugars products. He came here, and I think he likes that I am from Pittsburgh. He has roots here, too.”
Cuban says if viewers would like to see the “American dream” in action, watch this show. It involves going behind the scenes of the hit reality production and reveals what happens after the deals are made and the entrepreneurs plunge into the uncharted waters of the shark-eat-shark business world. It will be anchored by “Good Morning America's” Lara Spencer.
The show features surprisingly candid interviews with all six sharks — Cuban, “Queen of QVC” Lori Greiner, real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, technology innovator Robert Herjavec, fashion-and-branding expert Daymond John and venture capitalist Kevin O'Leary — revealing what the business titans really think of one another and the strategy behind landing the best deals and making the most money.
For the first time, the sharks reveal which deals they mistakenly let get away. Plus, the most successful entrepreneur from the past five seasons of “Shark Tank” will be revealed — a business that has already generated more than $15 million in revenue since appearing on the show.
“This should be a fun show to watch because viewers will see things they don't normally get to see,” Lazzari says. “You will see both sides — those who make it and get invested in and others who don't.”
Filming was in January. Each shark was asked to pick a few entrepreneurs to showcase; Cuban chose Lazzari.
Lazzari credits Cuban and “Shark Tank” with helping financially and exposure-wise for Simple Sugars. Her first appearance on the show came at the perfect time. Lazzari was in need of financial backing because her mother's credit card was at the limit and Lazzari was having trouble getting approved for a loan.
Within the first month of being on the show, she had 35,000 orders. She and her team fed off of that spike in sales and have worked to maintain and grow the customer base.
There 38 products in the line. Price ranges are $15 to $22.
Simple Sugars can be purchased at 24 Giant Eagle locations, the Fairmont Hotel, Downtown, Soergel Orchards in Wexford, So Me Boutique in Fox Chapel, Schiller's Pharmacy in Shadyside, Smart Form, Downtown, Cheeks in Shadyside, Towne Drug in Aspinwall, and Hunter Pharmacy in Connellsville.
When Lazzari first started making Simple Sugars in her kitchen, she never imagined it would get to this level, she says, but after she realized she loved the business, she wanted to make it a $1 million company. She's done that and more with the visibility from “Shark Tank.”
“I like ‘Shark Tank,' I know I am biased, but it's a show that is very realistic,” Lazzari says. “What you see is what really happens. You can learn a lot from this show, whether you are a businessperson or not. They make it interesting to watch. And you might think after five seasons there isn't anything new, but they find new things each show.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7889.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 5 summer jackets that will weather transition to fall
- Fashion FYI: Nicole Miller to unveil 10th-anniversary fashion collection
- Dabbling in pastels: Hair color taking on brighter hues
- Flashy sneakers are stepping into offices across the country
- Look good, feel good: Clothes help project confidence, intelligence, power