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
- Austin entrepreneurs pitch mask for dogs on Shark Tank ›
- Kendra Scott lights up Austin to celebrate Shark Tank debut tonight ... ›
- Local billionaire Kendra Scott takes seat on ABC Shark Tank ... ›
By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.