The Denver Post

Boulder’s BeerMKR seeks big bite on “Shark Tank”

- By Lucas High BizWest

Brett Vegas and Aaron Walls have made their fair share of pitches while launching their countertop beer brewing device company BeerMKR, but they’d never pitched to the billionair­e owner of an NBA team or a world-famous slugger with nearly 700 career home runs.

That changed last year, when Vegas and Walls taped a segment for ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

The episode featuring guest shark Alex Rodriguez aired last week.

BeerMKR, a self-contained, automated brewing system, debuted in 2018 at the Great American Beer Festival, and the company’s founders have been riding a successful crowdfundi­ng wave that allowed them to begin shipping the product last year.

Walls and Vegas applied to appear on the show last spring and flew to Las Vegas in September for taping. Prior to meeting the sharks, the founders had to quarantine in their hotel rooms for nine days.

“It was a very isolating, odd experience,” Vegas told BizWest.

While Vegas and Walls are only casual fans of the show, they studied every alcoholrel­ated pitch in recent years to prepare for their taping, which took about 45 minutes and was edited down to about six minutes.

Walls and Vegas entered the “Shark Tank” with an aggressive offer for the investors, who included Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Robert Herjavek and Barbara Corcoran: $500,000 for a 2% share in the company, which would value BeerMKR at $25 million.

While the sharks were wowed by the product, they were flummoxed by the valuation.

“They have these personas that they play into,” Walls said. “It was interestin­g to watch them play (these television personas) out.”

O’Leary, leaning into his cantankero­us Mr. Wonderful alter-ego, threatened to “eviscerate” the Boulder duo for having the gall to make such a gung-ho offer, but ultimately offered them a debt deal at half their desired valuation.

Vegas and Walls stuck to their guns and valuation, turning down the offer.

“Maybe the sharks made a big mistake,” Vegas said to as the pair exited the set.

Walls told BizWest that “it would be great if we had a shark, but we weren’t going to give away the company.”

BeerMKR is in the process of raising a $1 million funding round to scale up production and marketing. The founders expect their television appearance to help them reach that goal.

“Our goal is to connect (with customers) who are outside of the beer brewing world,” Walls said. “‘Shark Tank’ was the first chance we’ve had to expand (our product visibility) out into the larger market.”

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