Investor “Shark Tank”Daymond johntold CNBC on Tuesday that he believed his new effort with Lowe’s to help various entrepreneurs could have widespread appeal and great impact.
“You can get a million applicants, I hope. I want people to come together for this,” he said on “Squawk on the Street”. “When you talk about diversity … you’re not just talking about people of color, you’re talking about women. You talk about LGBTQ, you talk about veterans, so it could be a lot of people.”
The initiative is called “Making it With Lowe’s” and gives small minority-owned businesses the opportunity to put their products on the shelves and on the website of home improvement retailers. The application window launches Tuesday and is open until September 25.
Applicants will be reduced to five finalists, according to a press release from Lowe. John will assist mentors and prepare them for their presentation directly to Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison and other frameworks.
John, who is also CEO of clothing brand FUBU, said the opportunity to bring a product to Lowe’s removes a major hurdle for many emerging entrepreneurs: distribution.
“Often that’s the most important part. Once you know you have a product, you know you can distribute it. Now, how do you get it to the masses?” he said. “They wanted to give people this vehicle to do it, without taking any percentage of their business.”
In an interview earlier Tuesday on “Squawk on the Street,” Ellison said Lowe’s idea for the initiative stemmed from the application for small business grants launched in May in response to the economic challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. He said the $ 55 million program, which targeted businesses owned by minorities as well as those in rural communities, had received more than 800,000 applications.
“The demand for this program has made us realize that there is a lot more to do,” said Ellison, who expressed the need for US companies to step up their efforts on diversity.
Lowe’s intends to select the finalists by the end of this year, with the outcome of the challenge being revealed early next year, according to the press release.
John said to himself that this is different from his role in “Shark Tank” as he does not offer his own capital to make an investment in exchange for equity and a role in helping the business grow. Instead, he said he could approach it more as a consumer.
“I don’t have to think about the personal way I should make it work, how I’m going to make money from it,” he said. “All I can do right now is worry about whether this fixes a problem? Does it empathize with a customer? Does it make them lighter, faster or louder, or saving some time for someone? … I already know that the distribution exists. “
CNBC Melissa Repko contributed to this story.
Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive rights to off-grid cable toShark Tank”, Of which Daymond John is co-host.
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