The Players Trunk co-founders Hunter Pomerantz, left, and his brother...

The Players Trunk co-founders Hunter Pomerantz, left, and his brother Austin, turned down a "Shark Tank" deal.  Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

What happens after you turn down an investment from Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, and Kevin Hart, an actor, comedian and entrepreneur, on "Shark Tank"?

"We've been grinding harder than ever," said Hunter Pomerantz, 24, co-founder of The Players Trunk, an Old Westbury-based online marketer of jerseys, cleats and other equipment previously used by college athletes. 

Pomerantz appeared on the May 20 "Shark Tank" season finale along with his brother and co-founder Austin Pomerantz, 22, and co-founders Jason Lansing, 23, of Chicago, and Charles Matthews, 25, a former University of Michigan basketball player now with the G-League affiliate of the Boston Celtics.

Sought $650,000 on show

On the set of the ABC network show, dramatic music played as double doors opened and the quartet entered the "Shark Tank." The young entrepreneurs described their company. Austin Pomerantz said they were seeking $650,000 for a 5% stake in the company.

And then the sparring began.

"Shark Tank" panelist Kevin O'Leary, known ironically as Mr. Wonderful, said the $13 million valuation implied by the startup's funding proposal was "nuts" given the company's sales of $1.3 million in its first 12 months.

Hart and Cuban cobbled together an offer of $650,000 for 30% of The Players Trunk, giving the company an implied valuation of $2.2 million.

"Seventy percent of a watermelon is a whole lot better than 95 percent of a grape," Cuban said.

Austin Pomerantz, however, balked at the terms.

"I don't think there are better strategically aligned partners than you guys," he said, but the implied valuation "is just not in our best interests right now."

The young entrepreneurs previously had received a $1.25 million funding round setting the company's valuation at $10 million from Chicago-based venture capital firm Starting Line.

Austin Pomerantz then proposed that the sharks increase the dollar value of their offer, but that proposal was shot down.

"Venture capital money is great, but Mark Cuban money and Kevin Hart money is greater," Cuban said, alluding to the halo effect lent by two celebrities.

In the end, Hunter Pomerantz said, "we stuck to our guns," rejecting the sharks' overtures.

When it became clear that a deal was off the table, O'Leary took a parting shot at the young entrepreneurs.

"I respected you till you turned that offer down," he said. "Now I think you're bozos."

Hunter Pomerantz said his team is determined to make O'Leary eat his words.

"We definitely will," he said. "We didn't need any added motivation."

Hunter Pomerantz said the TV appearance helped grow an already "extremely loyal customer base" and that sales are exceeding the pace of the company's first 12 months.

Gearing up again 

The founders are hustling to gear up for the college football season and explore product rollouts, which could include in-person experiences with college athletes, he said. The Players Trunk website also has started listing items from former NFL players, including retired Pro Bowl center Alex Mack.


The "Shark Tank" episode was recorded last summer, Hunter Pomerantz said, but The Players Trunk co-founders were bound by a confidentiality agreement barring them from discussing the show until it aired.

The NCAA, the body that governs college athletics, approved a new "name, image and likeness" policy effective in July 2021 allowing competitors in Division I, II and III to be compensated.

Previously, college athletes were barred from receiving compensation for their gear until after their college eligibility had expired.

That development opened the way for The Players Trunk to list the gear of current college players. 

The company operates from the Old Westbury home of the Pomerantz brothers' parents, but  the operation's cash flow permitted the hiring of an employee and a planned move this summer to a 3,000-square-foot facility in Hauppauge. 

A previous version of this story misquoted Mark Cuban talking about the benefits of the deal offered.

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