Geoff Hardman, co-owner of Cleveland Bagel Co., knows his business has potential, but he's mostly seen long hours and hard work rather than profits.
"I haven't had a paycheck in weeks," Hardman says.
For a while, his business partner, Dan Herbst, was even sleeping in his car near their rented kitchen space so he could be there early in the morning.
But that was before they landed a $100,000 investment deal on CNBC's new reality business show "Cleveland Hustles," which premiered Wednesday.
The show focuses on revitalizing Gordon Square, a section of Cleveland that has seen better times, by infusing it with new business.
For Cleveland Bagel, the show offered an opportunity to branch out into a retail space and possibly even into a national brand of frozen foods.
To do that, they first had to impress investor Alan Glazen, a former ad executive turned neighborhood developer.
The Cleveland Bagel entrepreneurs were seeking an investment of $100,000 for 25 percent equity in their company. But before committing, Glazen wanted to make sure they could handle a retail environment. So he challenged them to create a pop-up store as a test. Their goal: Sell $400 worth of bagels in one day.
"Cleveland Hustles" host Bonin Bough offered guidance, but things got off to a rocky start when Hardman and Herbst decided to open their pop-up shop in the evening, as opposed to going after the breakfast crowd — a more natural fit for bagels.
Ultimately, Bough persuaded them to open in the morning.
The store was a smash hit, exceeding Glazen's sales challenge by more than $300. After seeing the potential in Cleveland Bagel, he agreed to the $100,000 investment for a 25 percent stake, moving the company onto the next phase of the show where they will attempt to open a full retail store in three months.