A week after their appearance on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” Cal Poly graduates Matt Canepa and Pat Pezet are riding high.
The former Cal Poly baseball players went on the reality competition, which connects budding entrepreneurs with big-name investors, in hopes of securing funding for their San Francisco-based company, Grinds Coffee Pouches.
Since that episode aired Feb. 8, the response “has been insane to say the least,” Pezet said. “It has been above and beyond what we expected.”
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Sold as a chewing tobacco substitute, Grinds pouches feature flavored coffee grounds. Each can of Cinnamon Roll, Mint Chocolate or Mocha Grinds contains the equivalent of four to five cups of coffee.
Pezet said the product appeals to three markets: coffee, tobacco products and energy drinks.
“This could be an entirely new market category,” he said. “If it’s possible to really do that, we’ll be the first pioneer in the industry.”
Since launching Grinds in 2009, Canepa and Pezet have targeted athletes as their primary customary base, promoting their product at professional baseball spring training camps in Arizona and Florida and snagging key endorsements from the likes of San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy. As they told “Shark Tank” investors, they’re on track to sell 300,000 units this year.
“The last missing link is distribution,” said Pezet, who wants to see Grinds carried by major retailers.
So Canepa and Pezet decided to try out for “Shark Tank.” Two days before the pair were planning to attend an audition in Los Angeles, a producer invited them to come on the show, Pezet said.
They flew down to Los Angeles in July for filming, and returned home with a big financial boost.
According to Pezet, the time he and his partner spent playing college baseball helped prepare them for the demanding, off-disappointing business world.
He also credited the support they received through Cal Poly’s Innovation Quest competition, including $15,000 in startup money, with giving them the confidence to succeed.
“Anyone can start a business,” he said. “You just have to put in the time of effort.”