'Shark Tank' winner: Know when to walk away

(L-R) CEO Brian Shimmerlik and Steve Bofill
Source: ABC

The venture capital slowdown may be striking fear into the hearts of some start-ups, but Vengo Labs certainly isn't one of them.

Just last week, the creator of digital vending machines notched a big win on "Shark Tank," scoring $2 million in financing after CEO Brian Shimmerlik negotiated more favorable terms from the two "sharks" who offered to fund his venture.

In a sector where start-up funding is more scarce than it was a year ago, it was a fairly bold move.

"The biggest key to a successful negotiation is the willingness to walk away, [and] I would have walked away," Shimmerlik told CNBC in a recent interview. In skillful fashion, he persuaded investors Kevin O'Leary and Lori Greiner to take a 3 percent equity stake — far lower than their original offer of 12 percent.

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Anthony Saleh (left) and Nasir “Nas” Jones.
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To be certain, Vengo — which makes high-tech vending machines and doubles as a self-contained advertising network — has been successful raising money. The company's generated around $7 million in financing from various investors including Tony Hseih, David Tisch and rapper/venture capitalist Nas.

"I have a luxury a lot of people don't, which is access to a lot of capital, and in addition to confidence and capital I do my homework," Shimmerlik said. He added that his counteroffer was "a fair multiple" that was more consistent with the current metrics of the market.

VC slowing 'a good thing'

Yet in a chilly environment for startup funds, Shimmerlik told CNBC the company remains in "growth mode." Vengo's dollars continue to roll in even as Pebble, one of Silicon Valley's hottest success stories that raised nearly $50 million through a combination of crowdfunding and venture capital, was just forced to lay off dozens of workers, according to Tech Insider.

Meanwhile, U.S. venture firms saw total capital raised fall by 9 percent last year, with total money raised during the fourth quarter plummeting 20 percent for the comparable year-ago quarter, according to data from the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters.

"The mood has changed a bit but that's healthy," Shimmerlik said. "Valuations have come down but valuations should come down." Even as unicorns — a term that refers to start-ups such as Uber that are valued at $1 billion or more — have captured investors' imaginations, Vengo was "never part of that story," Shimmerlik said, dismissing the valuations as "ridiculous."

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The start-up market "is more cautious more thoughtful than they were years ago, but that's a good thing," he added.

Vengo's kiosks serve more than 300,000 people in college campuses, hotels and high-end establishments around the country.

After its latest round of financing, Shimmerlik said he is "ready to crank out Vengos and get them to every high-quality college and gym…as possible."

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."