Company: Barbell Apparel
Founders: Hunter Molzen and Alex Hanson
Season: Appeared on season 8 in the week nine episode
Barbell Apparel offers fashionable and functional denim athletic jeans. The jeans are tailored to athletic builds and have 360-degree movement. When they debuted their product on Kickstarter, they raised more than $730,000—far surpassing the $15,000 goal that was raised in less than an hour.
According to their Kickstarter campaign, “Designed for athletes, these jeans are made to fit comfortably over muscular legs by accommodating your quads and butt without forcing you to buy larger sizes for the small waist you work so hard for.” The jeans are made to fit any body type—whether the legs are muscular or on the smaller side. They offer denim pants, khakis, chino pants, T-shirts and more for both men and women.
When co-founders Molzen and Hanson originally appeared on “Shark Tank,” they came in asking for $500,000 for five percent equity. The sharks thought there were too many issues, including the valuation, inventory and the high barrier to entry. Ultimately, they left without a deal.
Molzen spoke with Business 2 Community about Barbell Apparel’s experience on the show and what their next steps are. Take a look at the Q&A below:
Q&A with Barbell Apparel’s Co-Founder Hunter Molzen
What was your strategy for navigating “Shark Tank”?
We decided to go into the show with an aggressive valuation. We would’ve loved a deal, but we weren’t desperate for the capital.
We truly believe in the company, and are experiencing explosive growth. We wanted to make sure if a Shark invested, it was because they wholly believe in our mission and the team we’ve built, and wanted to come on board as a partner.
How has Barbell Apparel changed since the episode was first recorded? Since it aired?
Things have been awesome. We’ve continued to rapidly grow in size, and are continually innovating new, cutting edge clothing.
The exposure from “Shark Tank” was great, but didn’t dramatically change how we do business. It’s still a matter of waking up every day and putting in hard work to really make the business thrive.
Is there anything you would have changed about your time spent in the tank, including your pitch and valuation?
In retrospect, we may have come in asking for less money, but kept the valuation intact. Asking for $500,000 immediately got Kevin on the valuation conversation, and I really would’ve preferred to discuss more about the business first.
I also would’ve loved to have samples of the performance and athletic gear we’re developing, but they just weren’t ready yet. I know if the Sharks saw some of the things we’re developing now, they’d be pretty excited about it.
Who’s your favorite shark?
Honestly, I was impressed with all of them. They were all incredibly nice and well-spoken, and had great feedback and advice about our company. If I had to pick one Shark, I’d probably go with Mark. He was the first to defend our valuation, and was the most willing to listen before drawing conclusions.
Despite not getting a deal, do you think “Shark Tank” was the right move for your business?
Definitely! Being on “Shark Tank” was a great experience, and we’re always happy for any opportunity to communicate our passion to a larger audience.
What are Barbell Apparel’s next steps?
We built this company from absolutely nothing, brick by brick, and we’ll continue to do just that. We work incredibly hard, one day at a time, and love what we do. I think that resonates throughout our customer service and products, and really connects with people.
In the near term, we’ll be applying the expertise we have in fit & fabrics to make some pretty incredible athletic clothing.
In the long term, I think Barbell Apparel will become a hub for all kinds of active people that want a company who understands and supports what they’re doing.
Where do you see this industry in 5-10 years?
The future for the industry is very bright. People in general are becoming more health conscious, and realizing how fun it can be to utilize the potential of your body. Movement, athletics and the ability to have crazy amounts of active fun is what makes life worth living to everyone here at Barbell. We’re so thankful to have the opportunity to make clothing that enables and supports that lifestyle.
What would you say to people who want to start their own business?
When you see a business in the news, or on Shark Tank, or read a success story, you’re only seeing the highlight reel. Nothing is built overnight. Almost every success story is the culmination of days and days and days of just waking up, and putting in the hard work. Getting on “Shark Tank” was a TON of work, but it was definitely worth it. In many respects, starting a business is the same.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who want to make it on “Shark Tank”?
Just go for it. We went to an open casting on a whim. It was a great experience, and if you’re passionate and believe in what you do, the people at “Shark Tank” will see that.
Anything else you’d like to add?
If you want to start a business, or have an idea, just get started. It’s really tempting to think there’s some magic bullet or missing piece you need to get started, but that’s not true. If you take it step by step, the pieces will come together. You just have to put in the work!
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length