Dallas native's medical testing company lands $1 million deal on 'Shark Tank'
Dallas, TX - A Dallas native who dived into the Shark Tank walked away with a $1 million loan and the marketing savvy of a celebrity investor from the hit ABC show.
Julia Cheek is founder of EverlyWell, an Austin-based company that sells over 16 types of health tests ranging in price from $69 for a kit to measure testosterone levels to a $399 hormone levels test for women hoping to conceive.
Cheek, a Highland Park High School graduate, founded the company in Dallas in 2015 and moved its headquarters to Austin last year.
As sole founder, she had the chance to pitch her company to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and the other investors — a.k.a. “sharks”— on a Shark Tank episode that aired Sunday.
While investors like Cuban and real estate billionaire Barbara Corcoran worried that competition and the need for constant redevelopment made the investment too risky, Cheek did get one bite.
“I think the state of health care in our country right now is so precarious. This gives people an empowered way to at least check on some things,” said Lori Greiner, the so-called Queen of QVC who has created hundreds of products and holds over 100 patents.
Greiner offered Cheek a $1 million loan at 8 percent interest, plus help with marketing and sales in return for a 5 percent stake in EverlyWell. Greiner quickly went on Twitter to promote the tests.
Cheek said she aims to make laboratory testing simple, useful and convenient. But those aren’t the only factors driving sales of the tests, which are not covered by health insurance.
Since EverlyWell began selling the tests in 2016, it has sold $2.5 million in products, mainly to women, Cheek said on the show. She projects online sales will reach more than $5 million by the end of the year and $12.3 million in 2018 as new tests, including a genetic kit, are added.
“Our customers tell us the value proposition is access,” she said on the show.
“The reason we started the project is because people cannot get these tests on their own," she explained. "They also aren’t able to know the price of the tests before they go to the lab to get the blood taken and get hit with a lab bill.”
Shark Tank debuted in 2009, and its celebrity investors have put more than $100 million into early-stage companies.
Source: Dallas Morning News