This 'Shark Tank' side hustle had almost zero revenue — here's why Mark Cuban invested anyway

Diaper Dust CEO Regina Crisci pitches her deodorizing powder product to Shark Tank investors.
ABC/Christopher Willard

Mark Cuban doesn't typically invest in businesses without a track record of success – but the billionaire entrepreneur and start-up investor may have recently broken his own rule.

And for a side hustle, to boot.

The company, called Diaper Dust, appeared on Friday's episode of ABC's "Shark Tank." Its CEO, Regina Crisci, created a deodorizing powder – a mix of activated charcoal and sodium bicarbonate – to sprinkle onto dirty diapers before throwing them in the trash. She launched her side hustle in December 2020, manufacturing the product in her North Carolina backyard and selling it online while maintaining her full-time job as a travel nurse.

The product's ease-of-use had clear appeal: Parents simply sprinkle the dust onto a soiled diaper before rolling it up and disposing it. But Crisci didn't have the bandwidth to scale the patent-pending product while keeping her nursing job.

"I'm looking for mentorship," Crisci told the Sharks. "I am out of my element in this room, but it's the room I'm meant to be in because you have so much to offer."

Crisci requested $75,000 in exchange for 40% of Diaper Dust and help finding a factory to help her scale inventory. The problem, most of the Sharks said: That was a steep ask for a company with only $3,000 in lifetime revenue, at the time of the episode's taping.

Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran and Lori Greiner quickly rejected the deal, saying they were impressed by Crisci's gumption, but it was too early in Diaper Dust's business trajectory for investment.

Guest Shark Emma Grede, CEO of Good American, also left the deal, advising Crisci to get involved with "mum influencers" on social media to generate brand awareness.

The rejections caused Crisci to visibly choke up. She said she was fully committed to making her side hustle work – and willing to quit her day job to pursue Diaper Dust full time, with the help of the right mentor.

That's when Cuban jumped in, saying he could help her scale her product – because she had already proven her drive.

"You've demonstrated every bit that you are an entrepreneur," Cuban said. "You figured out how to make this gunk in the backyard. You figured out how to sell it. You figured out the formulations. You figured out to do it all while [business] not being your first language."

Cuban agreed to Crisci's request, without any negotiation. "Thank you so much for all you do for other people," he told Crisci, after she accepted the deal. "Now it's time for you to have somebody help you."

For her part, Crisci – who still appears to be working as a travel nurse, according to the Diaper Dust website – said she was "grateful and blown away" by the experience. "Not just with the deal, but with all of the feedback, and just how amazing those people really are."

Crisci did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It's request for comment.

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