In a rare display of unanimity, the entire panel of five venture capitalists on Sunday's episode of ABC's "Shark Tank" threw their backing behind a Long Island family's invention -- one created by the late firefighter dad of three children carrying on his legacy.
"We feel like we're in the middle of a dream right now," Kaley Young, 25, said of herself and siblings Christian, 19, and Keira, 15, the day after the broadcast -- by which time their dad's specially designed cutting board, the $40 Cup Board Pro, had sold out its remaining inventory of about a hundred units. Six hundred had sold last week through their website, before the show even aired, she says.
More product is coming, but, four months after the episode was taped, no timeframe has been set. Regardless, the energetic siblings are appreciative of the sharks' attention. "Overall the advice and the amount of time they've given us over the past four months is incredible," Kaley Young told Newsday, "and it's so nice to see that not only are they brilliant but also compassionate, empathetic humans."
The children of FDNY firefighter Keith R. Young of Ladder Company 158 in Springfield Gardens, Queens -- who died March 17 at age 53 of 9/11-related cancer -- had asked for $100,000 for a 10 percent stake in the Cup Board Pro. Investor Mark Cuban, 60, chairman of AXS TV and owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, took point and told the siblings after their presentation, "Rather than us fight it all out, we decided to work together.
"Now, we're sharks, so we're going to negotiate," Cuban continued, referring to himself and fellow panelists Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Kevin O'Leary and guest Matt Higgins. "We're going to offer you a deal -- $100,000 for 20 percent, and each one of us is going to contribute $20,000 and our expertise so that we can help you. And so any profits that we earn from our 20 percent, we're going to contribute to whatever charity your dad supported for firemen that have been sick from 9/11." The children readily accepted both the deal and the proffered hugs by the emotionally moved investors.
"Our dad would probably be so proud of us and, like, so happy that we're continuing on his legacy, his dream," Wantagh High School sophomore Keira Young said in the wrap-up of the nearly 11-minute segment, which had taped at the reality show's studio in California on June 20.
The Cup Board Pro is a cutting board with a detachable, dishwasher-safe plastic trough for easy disposal of food-prep detritus, as well as a slight angle that sends meat juices and other liquids draining into the trough, helping to prevent any mess.
The siblings -- who already had lost their mother, Beth King, to cancer in 2012 -- had hired adults with Down syndrome to package the product for shipment, Kaley says. "My mom had actually taught dance to Down syndrome kids" at the Wantagh studio Beth founded and Kaley inherited, Hot Pilates Secret, "and so my dad wanted to honor her in that."
Whether that developmental diversity will continue is unclear, since much remains in the air. But one thing is certain: the inspiration people are drawing from these youngsters. "I'm seeing comments and messages from people who really appreciate us sharing our story," says SUNY New Paltz college student Christian Young, "and saying it inspires them to continue whatever they're going through, whatever life throws at them."