They got the dealwith two Sharks, no less.
Fun Time Express, the Chicago-based, gay-owned business, appeared on the nationally-broadcast TV show Shark Tank on April 11, seeking a $125,000 investment in exchange for 20 percent equity in their trackless train business.
Sharks Kevin O'Leary and Lori Greiner joined forces and struck the deal with life and business partners Kevin Ullery and Stan Krozel.
"It is very gratifying," Krozel said. "Our pitch was well received by the Sharks and we did well in a very high pressure situation."
Ullery said it was a "once in a lifetime opportunity" and he is "extremely proud" of how producers presented the company. Naturally, Ullery said he "could not be happier with the outcome."
The Sharks went in 50-50 on the deal, and will be paid back in full from profits.
"It's phenomenal to have two Sharks backing us. It is validation that our business model works and that the choices we have made have been good ones," Ullery said.
Krozel added, with a laugh, "We barely thought we would get one. Things weren't looking good in the beginning, but we persevered."
Greiner, billed as the "Queen of QVC," is a Chicago nativeand cheered during the show when she heard Chicago during their pitch. Actually, their segment started with locally-produced footage of the two, including a sign for the city of Sugar Grove. Ullery said the home package was a "complete and total surprise to everyone, even after it was revealed that we would be on the show. When the Sugar Grove sign appeared on screen, the entire place [where we were with friends and family watching the show] went ballistic. I don't think I heard the first three minutes [because of the noise and excitement]; it was wonderful."
Krozel said that, thanks to the deal, they hope to expand into bigger malls and venues. "This should help open doors to places that would otherwise be difficult to get into. There are a lot of opportunities for growth."
Ullery added, "The business itself will continue to run as it has, but with some definite tweaks and improvements. This entire process has been a learning experience."
Krozel said the two were in the Tank for, oh, about an hour, though the segment was condensed to about 12 minutes. Ullery said "it's been months" since the segment was filmed.
So how difficult was it to remain silent about the show's outcome?
Very, they said.
"It's hard to go through such an intense experience and not talk about it, but we knew it was our responsibility to keep everything under wraps. Judging by the response we have gotten so far, it was well worth the wait," Ullery said.
More on the story at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Gay-Chicago-businessmen-getting-national-TV-exposure/46916.html .