Lowe’s Takes a Bite Out of ‘Shark Tank’ to Help Small Businesses
Lowe’s is teaming with Daymond John, star of ABC’s “Shark Tank” and a New York Times best-selling author, to create opportunities for diverse small businesses to pitch their products to the home improvement retailer, a Fortune 50 company. Mooreville, N.C.-based Lowe’s said it will provide the platform and let the entrepreneurs do the rest.
The retailer said its “Making it… With Lowe’s” program invites hundreds of entrepreneurs to break through traditional processes and pitch their products directly to the company for a chance to be sold on Lowes.com and in Lowe’s physical stores. Through entrepreneurs, Lowe’s said it wants to provide customers “unprecedented access to the most innovative home improvement products they may never have found otherwise.” Lowe’s said it’s forming the contest because small businesses across America struggle to get their products in front of a company or business leader who can propel them forward and into the hands of the masses, and entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities face even tougher obstacles.
From Sept. 15 through Sept. 25, diverse small business owners can apply on Lowes.com/MakingItWithLowes. After Lowe’s identifies an initial 375 small businesses, the pool will narrow to 75 who will be invited to submit more in-depth stories via video.
The search will culminate in a one-day virtual pitch challenge hosted by John, where five diverse small business owners will pitch their products “live” to Lowe’s CEO and other executives for the chance to become a “Making It… With Lowe’s” small business partner. Leading up to the pitch, John will mentor the group as they prepare to make their pitches.
“The pandemic has created a situation where business owners are constantly pivoting and deepening their creativity and problem-solving abilities, especially minority-owned businesses that have more at stake and more to lose,” John said. “I can’t wait to get started.”
Lowe’ said it is committed to diversity and inclusion. In July, the company said it more than doubled its small business grant program to $55 million, providing much needed financial relief to minority-, women-owned and rural small businesses.
“When Lowe’s introduced our grant program for minority-, women- and rural-owned small businesses impacted by the pandemic earlier this year, we were humbled by the overwhelming response for the grants, and we were impressed by the creativity, passion and vision from hundreds of thousands of applicants — and we instantly knew we wanted to do more,” said Lowe’s President and CEO Marvin R. Ellison. “Offering our customers greater access to products being created by diverse small business owners allows Lowe’s digital and physical shelves nationwide to better reflect the diverse communities we serve and ensures our customers have access to the most innovative and valued home improvement products in the marketplace.”
The finalists will be announced and featured on Lowes.com later this year, and the Making It … With Lowe’s results will be revealed on Lowe’s social channels in early 2021.
Lowe’s and its related businesses operate or service more than 2,200 home improvement and hardware stores in the U.S.