Entrepreneurs

This Kevin O'Leary-backed 28-year-old brings in 6 figures a year selling potatoes online

Riad Bekhit and Kevin O'Leary.
Courtesy of Riad Bekhit
Riad Bekhit and Kevin O'Leary.

In many ways, Riad Bekhit is what you'd expect of a young entrepreneur: He runs an e-commerce business, lives near San Francisco, is 28-years-old, and has backing from a high profile investor.

But Bekhit's business is an unlikely one. He sells $9.99 potatoes with handwritten messages through the mail.

"I'm running a wacky business, but it's nothing to be ashamed of," Bekhit tells CNBC Make It of his company, Potato Parcel. "People respect it and they actually find it really funny."

The business, which appeared in a 2016 episode of ABC's "Shark Tank" and struck a deal with Kevin O'Leary, now employs seven people full time to create and sell the potato designs. Since airing on the show, Potato Parcel has sold over 70,000 potatoes, Bekhit says. Yearly sales top six figures.

Customers can order a potato with a message written for any occasion, from anniversaries to birthdays. For $14.99, you can send a Potato Pal — a potato topped with a photo of someone's face.

"I don't look at it as a potato company, I look at it as, we're a gifting company," Bekhit explains. "People use us in the same way they use greeting cards. We're just using a different medium to do that."

The business was founded in May 2015 by Alex Craig, a Texas resident inspired by a viral Reddit post of a potato covered in stamps.

When Craig shared the idea for Potato Parcel with his girlfriend at the time, "she said, 'You will not sell a single potato. This is the stupidest idea I've ever heard,'" Craig told WFAA in Texas in 2015. "On our second day that we were live, and we started promoting it on Reddit, and we got $2,000 in orders, and I just knew this was it."

By August, Craig was bringing in $10,000 in profit each month, WFAA reports. Later that year, Craig met Bekhit through an online chat room.

"I started helping him fulfill orders because I had some e-commerce experience and he didn't," Bekhit tells CNBC Make It. "He was kind of trying to transition out of that business." So in October of 2015, Craig agreed to sell the business to Bekhit for $42,000.

The pair appeared on "Shark Tank" together in 2016, and many of the sharks were more amused than impressed.

Michael Desmond | ABC | Getty Images

"It's just stupid on a stick," billionaire Mark Cuban said on the episode. "I personally think that taking this seriously as far as a shark investing is crazy," investor Lori Greiner added.

But after hearing the business' sales — $25,000 in the month before the show's taping with a 70 percent margin — Kevin O'Leary was interested. He agreed to invest $50,000 in exchange for 10 percent equity in the business, adding an additional royalty agreement.

In January, O'Leary told The New York Times Magazine that Potato Parcel is one of his top five favorite investments from "Shark Tank."

For Bekhit, the future of Potato Parcel is promising: "It is a great business, which is why I'm still doing this after three years."

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