Business

Columbus natives secure major investment from ‘Shark Tank’

There was tension Friday evening on “Shark Tank” as Columbus natives Diana and Josh Harbour appeared on the hit ABC show seeking cold hard cash to grow their online store, Red Dress Boutique.

The couple, now living in Athens, Ga., where they launched the brick-and-mortar Red Dress Boutique in 2005, were wide-eyed with a look of apprehension on their faces after billionaire Mark Cuban balked at giving them $600,000 for a 5-percent slice of the company.

“For $600,000, we would go as high as 10 (percent),” Josh countered, with Diana by his side after the couple had made the pitch about their fashion and apparel store, which topped $7 million in sales last year and is on pace to surpass $12 million this year.

Cuban, the outspoken owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, paused as Diana glanced over at another “Shark Tank” investor, Internet security millionaire Robert Herjavec, and asked,” Robert, would you counter?”

That prompted Cuban to appear slightly annoyed and tell Josh and Diana that if they would rather have Herjavec as an investor, he was fine with that.

“No, two sharks is always better than one,” Diana quickly interjected, her eyes shifting back and forth between Cuban and Herjavec. The couple was hoping the two self-made tycoons would split the 10 percent.

“It’s just not enough equity. There’s just not enough skin in the game,” said Cuban, with any investment deal suddenly appearing to be in jeopardy and the Harbours holding their collective breath.

Then, out of the blue, Herjavec, his hands clasped together, responded: “What about $1.2 million for 20 percent? Mark can take the 10 and I’ll take the 10. That way we have the same amount of equity.”

After a short pause, with the Athens couple considering the offer and ominous orchestra notes punctuating the critical moment, Josh said “yes,” followed by a “yes” from Diana, a big smile spreading across her face.

Cuban and Herjavec then got up from their seats to give the two Red Dress entrepreneurs hugs and congratulations, with the Harbours turning around and exiting through tall wooden doors and exhaling a sigh of relief.

“This means the sky’s the limit,” said Josh.

“Mark and Robert are angel investors. That’s what they are,” Diana said. “And angels can give you wings, and with wings you can fly.”

The show was taped in June. Since then, the Harbours worked out a deal with Cuban to secure $600,000 for a 15-percent cut in Red Dress Boutique, they told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Their shopping list includes a larger warehouse for the online business, with the company’s 65-person staff likely to grow as well.

Diana, 33, is a graduate of Calvary Christian in Columbus, with an English degree from Columbus State University. She’s the daughter of Bob and Diana Best, her father having passed away in 2012.

Josh, 34, is a graduate of Hardaway High in Columbus and holds a law degree from the University of Georgia. He’s the son of Steve and Lynn Harbour.

The Red Dress Boutique owners were one of 104 applicants selected for season six of “Shark Tank.” That’s out of about 45,000 who initially sought to appear on the show, which launched in 2009.

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