It may not have been the exact deal that Pro NRG founder Tanya Patruno was looking for, but walking away with a $250,000 investment offer on the reality TV show “Shark Tank” could end up being a critical win for her fledgling beverage brand.
Patruno, who launched protein-infused water Pro NRG earlier this year, landed an opportunity to pitch her brand in the hopes of landing new capital on “Shark Tank.” The show features a panel of veteran entrepreneurs, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and real estate guru Barbara Corcoran, who entertain offers to invest in an entrepreneurial business or product. In her appearance on the show, Patruno was seeking a $250,000 investment for a 15 percent stake in Pro NRG in the hopes of taking her brand national.
With San Francisco 49ers running back and Pro NRG endorser Brandon Jacobs at her side, Patruno told the panel that within three months of its launch, Pro NRG had $126,000 in sales and secured distribution in 3,000 locations in Manhattan, including convenience stores, delis, and big box retailers. While the panel was impressed with the company’s rapid growth, they were less than enthusiastic when Patruno explained that the cost to manufacture Pro NRG is $1.10 per bottle, wholesales for $1.80, and has a a retail price of $3.99.
“Do you realize that your distributors are making more money than you?” asked panelist Kevin O’Leary. “That’s upside down. You have to make more money than they do. That’s crazy.”
Although most of the panel quickly passed on Patruno’s proposal – reasons ranged from Pro NRG’s low profit margin to a difficult and competitive market for protein and sports drinks – FUBU founder and CEO Daymond John offered Patruno an investment of $250,000 for 30 percent of the company, contingent upon Pro NRG landing a contract with BADDASS, a protein and supplement company that John has a partnership with. Patruno accepted the offer, adding that Pro NRG would benefit from John’s expertise in branding and marketing. Though details of the proposed contact with BADDASS were not disclosed, the deal with John has recently been finalized, according to a Pro NRG spokesperson.