Every entrepreneur has one "aha moment" that helps a business take shape. For Pork Barrel BBQ founders Heath Hall and Brett Thompson, there were two.
"Where we came up with the concept for Pork Barrel BBQ was late one night during a Senate budget debate," Hall said. "The Senate was debating pork barrel spending projects and Brett and I were debating dinner. The two conversations merged and we thought Pork Barrel BBQ could be a pretty good name for a barbecue concept in the nation's capital."
The second epiphany came when they appeared on "Shark Tank" during its first season. They had rehearsed their pitch and they knew their numbers, but something big was missing.
"We get to the end and Barbara says that Heath looks like a pig and should be our mascot," Thompson said. "Heath paused for a moment and said, 'I guess I'll take that as a compliment.' That's when you know you have a really great partner, because in the end we got a really great deal. We now are in 3,500 stores nationwide and have our own restaurant."
They secured a deal with Barbara Corcoran in which she got 50 percent of the company for $50,000, but she brings more to the table than just money.
"Working with Barbara is crazy," Hall said. "She is nuts but she is smart and she is so much fun to work with. ... We really value her advice and her experience and we have an open line of communication with her which has been incredibly valuable over the past few years."
The pair appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2009 and the show is still going strong. Why does Hall believe that the show is still popular five years later?
"I think 'Shark Tank' is so appealing to the American audience right now because we're still in a time of economic struggle," he said. "It's folks who have an idea and really want to see it come to fruition, and I'm a true believer that small businesses and entrepreneurs are the engine of our economy."
—By Liza Hughes, Special to CNBC.com.
Tuesdays have more bite with back-to-back episodes of "Shark Tank" on CNBC every Tuesday night.