GO
Loading...

A bullmastiff and a bike got him $500,000

Source: VillyCustom

Inspired by his 140-pound bullmastiff dog Deville aka Villy, Fleetwood Hicks came up with the idea of Villy Custom Bikes, which Hicks described as the first fully customizable fashion bike. Customers can go online and customize their bikes by color and style.

Hicks appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2011 with Deville by his side, describing the dog as the brand icon. In addition to dog, Hicks also brought several of his bikes on board including a custom "Shark Tank" bike.

With the average bike retailing for $641, some of the sharks were concerned about the high retail price, but Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban weren't worried about the price. During Hicks' presentation, Corcoran confessed her passion for biking and admitted to purchasing about five bikes a year. On the episode, Corcoran and Cuban offered Hicks $500,000 for 42 percent of his company, which he accepted.

For 2014, Hicks has plans for expansion. He is opening up a Villy Custom boutique called Villy Vonka, which he says is like WIlly Wonka. HIcks is also introducing new custom cruiser apparel.

What else does Hicks have planned for 2014 and what does he believe got the sharks interested? Read the Q&A with Hicks below.

What was it about your pitch that got the sharks interested?

1. Our product is visual. Big, bright, shiny colorful bicycles put a smile on anyone's face because it reminds you of being a kid again. I really think they lit up the stage and the cameras.

2. My dog and our brand icon, DeVille aka Villy. He is always a crowd pleaser. A 140-pound bullmastiff—he definitely stole the show.

3. And most important: I asked Barbara why she came on board, and she told me that I seemed trustworthy and honest. She told me that no matter how great a product or business is, she always looks at the person and they've got to be trustworthy.

Is there anything that was shot but didn't air?

Mr. Wonderful wanted to purchase the "Shark Tank" bike we had created for the show. I told him that it wasn't for sale. He told me that everything was for sale at a price and he offered me $5,000 for it. Mark jumped in and brokered the deal, and me and Mr. Wonderful shook hands on selling the bike for $5,000. After the show, the "Shark Tank" producers told me that I couldn't sell the bike to him due to IP issues so, "Shark Tank" kept the bike. I always wondered who really got that bike but I was so excited that at the time it didn't matter to me. I had just gotten a $500,000 investment!

What is it like working with Barbara?

Working with Barbara has been a blessing. She's a super-savvy businesswoman. She likes to joke around and have a great time and create a good working environment/relationship.

What has been the effect of being on "Shark Tank?"

It's an amazing feeling right after you air. From a business standpoint, it gives your business immediate legitimacy and great exposure. Our brand identity and sales have grown tremendously, and a huge part of that has been due to "Shark Tank."

What are you planning for Villy Custom for 2014?

We are opening up our first true Villy Custom boutique—it's like Willy Wonka so we call it Villy Vonka—to test the concept, and we are introducing some new Villy Custom cruiser apparel and a hot bike electronic accessory that will change the way people enjoy riding bikes together. I think we can sell lots of bikes, but, we have a cool brand and I truly believe our apparel line could really take us to another level.

—By CNBC's Jill Weinberger.and Liza Hughes

Tuesdays have more bite with back-to-back episodes of "Shark Tank" on CNBC every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET.

Featured

Meet the Sharks

  • Mark is the highly successful entrepreneur and investor who founded HDNet, Broadcast.com and MicroSolutions.

  • Barbara Corcoran parlayed a $1,000 loan into a five-billion-dollar real estate business.

  • Lori Greiner started with one idea and turned it into a multi-million dollar international brand.