Mark Cuban wants to put 'the fear of God' in Elon Musk with this 'Shark Tank' solar tech business

Mark Cuban
Eric McCandless | ABC | Getty Images

One by one, four sharks declined to invest in Catlin Powers' business. Only Mark Cuban was left.

But before Cuban agreed to invest $500,000 in solar technology business One Earth Designs on ABC's "Shark Tank" Sunday night, he had a tough question for the company's co-founder and CEO.

"Do you think you could put the fear of God in Elon Musk and put them out of business?" Cuban asks, referring to the boss of Tesla, which acquired solar panel business, SolarCity for $2.6 billion in 2016. In under 100 days in 2017, Tesla also built the world's biggest battery (the size of a football field, according to The New York Times) in Australia.

Without a beat, Powers answered: "Yes, I think we have the potential to do that."

Cuban was in.

Powers came on "Shark Tank" seeking $500,000 in exchange for 3 percent equity in her business, which sells portable outdoor grills that barbecue meat without a flame. The grill, called SolSource, is entirely powered by the sun.

"As long as you can see your shadow, you can cook with SolSource," Powers explains on the show. "And it heats up five times faster than a charcoal grill."

SolSource Classic sells for $499 and the smaller SolSource Sport for $299, according to the company's website. And Powers says the company has 80 percent margins on direct sales and did $100,000 in sales the year before taping "Shark Tank." She was inspired to invent the fuel-free grill when she discovered many nomadic families in the Himalayas suffer due to pollution from cooking indoors.

But Cuban didn't seem interested in any of that.

It was the technology behind an upcoming product that Powers, who has a master's and a doctoral degree in environmental health from Harvard, mentioned during her pitch.

"Our next product is a solar battery system," she explains. "It stores energy in organic molecules over multiple days at a time."


Though Powers designed the technology to create grills that will allow gas-free cooking at night and indoors, Cuban saw bigger potential. Elon Musk-sized potential.

"99.99999 percent of the people walking in on the ['Shark Tank'] carpet are not billion-dollar opportunities," Cuban explains to his fellow sharks.

"This one is, if it's right, no question," guest shark Rohan Oza adds.


Ironically, Elon Musk's brother, Kimbal Musk, appears to be a fan of grilling with the eco-friendly SolSource product.

"I'll offer you $500,000, but I want 5 percent [of the business]," Cuban tells Powers.

Powers came back with a counter-offer of 4 percent equity and a board seat, and Cuban agreed.

Don't miss: 'Shark Tank's' Lori Greiner says this laid-off inventor's product that prevents cooking spatter is her favorite this year

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

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