doc spartan, shark tank, email, business success story. veteran owned companies|
Go to triangular compass
Left arrow

Don't Judge an Email by Its Address: It Could Change Everything

Community Support
Community Support
May 29, 2017
Share on Twitter
Share on Facebook
Share on Linkedin
Copy Link

Stay Up to Date on American Grit

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Just over a year after starting Doc Spartan, an Ohio-based veteran-owned business specializing in handmade all-natural products for skin and beard, CEO Dale King received an email from someone named Max claiming to be from the hit ABC show Shark Tank.“It came from a Gmail,” says King, “so I figured it can’t be real. It’s one of my friends messing with me.”However, the email was from Max Swedlow, an executive producer of Shark Tank, and at the time they were interested in highlighting more veteran-owned businesses.“They had been searching through social media for veteran-owned companies and we kept coming up, which is cool,” says King, “so they reached out.”After going through the casting materials and getting accepted to be on the show, the Doc Spartan team ultimately decided on trying for a $75,000 loan in exchange for 15% equity. And, in true American Dream style, they struck a deal with Robert Herjavec.

After the deal

While many have seen the Shark Tank vignettes checking in on companies funded in earlier seasons, King said it was interesting to see how it immediately unfolded.“Robert basically assigned a team of his people to us,” says King, “and we set up a weekly and monthly call schedule. They are literally always there with resources if you need them, though. And they’ve obviously been helpful in opening new resources.”Some of those new resources included conversations with AAFES to get Doc Spartan products on military bases nationwide, as well as a chance to display at The Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio this March.At The Arnold Classic, King wasn’t necessarily representing Doc Spartan so much as Team Some Assembly Required, a nonprofit he also founded in 2013 for adaptive athletes. The nonprofit helps veterans who lost a limb overseas but returned to an athletic life stateside.King is also still the owner of PSKC, or Portsmouth Spartan Kettlebell Club, a crossfit gym in his hometown of Portsmouth, Ohio. The “Spartan” name in both his gym and his company comes from the Portsmouth Spartans, an early pre-NFL football team that eventually moved to Detroit and evolved into the Lions.“Right now it’s kind of crazy,” he admits, “because we have this big warehouse space and the gym, the non-profit, and Doc Spartan are all operating out of this one area at the same time, including the manufacturing, packing and shipping of products.”

Make it Work

Prior to Doc Spartan, King was a military intelligence officer supporting a Special Forces unit who deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom III and IV. He eventually returned to Ohio in 2007, starting the gym in 2010 after working for the federal government for a few years.“The fundamental belief you get from time served in the military is that failure is not an option,” he admits. “With everything, you have to continue to push and find a way to make it happen. If you go on literal life or death missions, you can’t say ‘Well this didn’t work so now we can move on.’ You have to find a way to make it work. This means you need to use your brain, use other people you’re working with, or use the resources around you, but it has to happen,” he says. “I always think veteran entrepreneurs have a leg up on non-veterans because it is baked into us.”Looking to the future, King plans to grow the Doc Spartan team and business with the help of Robert’s team.“Right now we have four employees, 2 of whom are part-time. In a few years I’d like to have 15-20 gainfully employed and healthy,” he notes. “I want a really robust e-commerce website where we’re shipping everywhere, and ideally we’re in a major retail chain or two or have some of our own brick and mortar locations.”While the Portsmouth space may get crowded as the Doc Spartan team adds more members, it would be a welcome problem for King. They look forward to the challenge and to see what is in store for them in the remainder of 2017 and beyond.

send a letter to congress
Adds section
Next Up
No items found.