The NBA invaded Sunday’s “Shark Tank,” with guest shark Charles Barkley and an appearance on the other side of the tank by Metta World Peace. But, it was Dahn Tran and his remarkable story that brought the heart and spirit.
A Vietnamese immigrant, Tran grew up with the dream of coming to America to be a fashion designer. His parents ran a tailor shop in Vietnam where he first made his own clothes at the age of 10, but his mother wanted a different career for him. She wanted him to be a doctor or lawyer.
“I invested in the company, $240,000 with my own money,” Tran said, his voice breaking. “I quit my job, I sold my house and I cashed out my 401(k). I’m all in.”
That company is Butter Cloth, which Tran runs with the help of fellow entrepreneur Gary Falkenburg. Butter Cloth is a brand of cotton dress shirt designed for comfort and movability. Falkenburg said: “Butter Cloth feels like you’re wrapped in a hammock in the Caribbean under a palm tree, but looks like you’re giving a keynote at NASA.”
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First dunking on a basketball goal that had been set up in the corner of the room, Metta then helped Tran get in on the fun, lifting him above his shoulders like Simba from “The Lion King” so Tran could drop a basket. Metta said: “Not every day you can see a dunk like that in a shirt like this.”
Despite Metta’s presence, Barkley wasn’t biting at the opportunity to invest in Butter Cloth. Neither was Cuban or Kevin O’Leary, who disagreed with the trio’s plan to invest in more inventory over advertising. Cuban said: “The more cash you have for advertising, the more you can make. Yet, you want to put more into inventory. That money is more valuable for advertising.”
Likewise, shark Lori Greiner already had too many prior commitments in the clothing industry to devote her time to a new venture. Fortunately for Tran and his dream, shark Robert Herjavec saw the potential of the product, offering $250,000 for a 25 percent stake: “The material’s incredible, and the fit looks great. I like your story, Dahn – how you came to America. I know a lot about this space.”
The opportunity left Tran clapping his hands and jumping for joy.