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Where are former Shark Tank guests now? Two of them started out right here in the capital of Texas.
Mikaila Ulmer and Blake Mycoskie will both return to the tank Friday night in ABC's Shark Tank: Where Are They Now episode, which checks in on some of the most memorable pitches in the show.
Ulmer will return to discuss her lemonade brand, Me & the Bees, while Mycoskie, the face behind TOMS Shoes, will return as a guest Shark.
The Shark Tank alumni have something special in common: St. Stephen's Episcopal School, where Ulmer is in her junior year and of which Mycoskie is an alumnus. He graduated in 1995 but no longer lives in Austin.
Ulmer, who is almost 16 years old, started her company from her front yard here in Austin when she was just 4 years old, selling her beloved great-grandmother's flaxseed lemonade. The lemonade uses honey to cut down on sugar, and 10% of the profits go to bee-saving charities.
Ulmer appeared on Shark Tank in 2015, when she was 9 years old, receiving a deal with Daymond John for $60,000. Now, Ulmer is selling her lemonade in over 1,800 stores, including H-E-B, Kroger and Whole Foods.
Ulmer said she is excited for people to see how far the company has come, but also realize she isn't a kid anymore.
"I had such amazing experiences since starting this and I'm so grateful for all the people who support me, but it's also a little bit of like, I kind of knew this was gonna happen," Ulmer said. "I think this recap is going to be really helpful for people to see where the company is now and also to realize that I'm no longer a (child) and I'm 16 and in high school and driving."
Ulmer has not stopped grinding since she got off Shark Tank. In addition to growing Me & the Bees Lemonade, she now runs her own nonprofit, Healthy Hive Foundation, was invited to the Whitehouse during the Obama administration and just released a new book, "Bee Fearless: Dream like a Kid."
"It's important to start in your backyard--I say my front yard because that's where my lemonade stand was," Ulmer said. "You don't always want to have a huge, big launch when it comes to business. You can start small and build your community from there."
D'Andra Ulmer, Mikaila's mother, said they feel lucky to have started the business in Austin because the city has entrepreneurial roots and friendly people.
"(It is) wonderful it's been to start and grow this business in Austin," D'Andra Ulmer said. "Being part of a community that has deep entrepreneurial roots helps every entrepreneur grow."
Mycoskie will return as a guest Shark after kicking off the season as the first guest on the Oct. 16 episode. Mycoskie stepped down as CEO of TOMS in 2014 and is now working on a mental health company called Madefor, a 10-month program aimed at improving body and brain through science.
The entrepreneur has already made an investment on this season: Touch Up Cup, which keeps excess paint accessible and fresh.
One of the reasons why I invested in @TouchUpCup is that I felt an instant connection to Carson and Jason. I too wa… https://t.co/UxcKvjt77H— Blake Mycoskie (@Blake Mycoskie)1603396429.0
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic effective June 26, citing the number of current job openings and concern about potentially fraudulent unemployment claims. The benefits include a $300 weekly supplement.
"The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring communities across the state," Abbott said in a statement. "According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment jobs."
TWC listed 837,273 job openings as of Monday afternoon compared to 226,849 unemployment insurance claims filed statewide between March 31 and May 1. An estimated 1 million Texans were unemployed as of March, according to latest estimates released by the state agency.
Some local business owners, including Doc's Backyard Grill owner Charles Milligan, suspect unemployment benefits are deterring Austinites from returning to work. But others agree with economists who say multiple factors are at play, including health concerns and child care availability.
We're seeing lots of posts about how nobody wants to work right now. Just wanted to share our experience.
We received over 60 resumes for a taproom bartender position we posted last week. Every applicant we've set up an interview with has shown up.
People want 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 work.
— Austin Beerworks (@AustinBeerworks) May 11, 2021
Abbott also cited fraudulent unemployment claims. Between March 2020 and April 2021, TWC received 4.48 million unemployment benefit applications, 611,000 or around 14% of which were tagged as suspicious. Most of those tagged were blocked before any benefits were paid out, according to an April 29 press release.
Federal law requires the effective date of such benefits change to be at least 30 days after the U.S. Department of Labor is notified.
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