Today’s cuppa: Irish breakfast tea chased with office coffee
Back on Sept. 13, Washington, D.C., insiders Heath Hall and Brett Thompson went into ABC’s “Shark Tank” — new episodes air Tuesday — in search of funding for their company, Pork Barrel BBQ. They were seeking $50,000 for 10 percent of their barbecue sauce and rub business, but in the end, after some tough negotiations, they got the cash from “Shark” and real-estate mogul Barbara Corcoran — in exchange for 50% of the business.
Corcoran even said to Hall, “I can’t look at you
without picturing you in a pig costume.”
But the boys survived and persevered (even catching the attention of the U.K. Telegraph) — and here’s a Q&A update on the post-“Shark Tank” progress…
happened to your business since the influx of cash from Barbara?
Heath (in red T-shirt below) – Since getting our deal with Barbara on “Shark Tank,”
we’ve been able to prove that the free market is alive and well. Pork Barrel
BBQ products are now available in over 130 stores, we’ve announced the opening
of our first Pork Barrel BBQ restaurant, and we are even in talks to produce
Pork Barrel BBQ frozen meals.
Brett (in blue T-shirt below) – Since we were on “Shark Tank,” we’ve been able to take
a huge step towards making Pork Barrel BBQ a nationwide brand. In addition to
being picked up by major grocery store chains like Harris Teeter and Ukrops,
we’ve had the chance to sell our products at Costco. We are proud to show that
Pork Barrel BBQ, a company that isn’t owned or operated by the federal government,
can still succeed in these difficult economic times.
else in the way of advice or inspiration has Barbara offered?
Heath – You can’t look at Barbara’s story and not be
inspired – she is a true American success story! She took a $1,000 investment and turned it
into a company worth billions of dollars.
In the few short months we’ve been working with her, I can already tell
that she is a steam engine, and if you’re on the track, you’re going to get run
over. She is a smart, savvy, and a driven business partner – exactly what Pork
Barrel BBQ was looking for.
Brett – Barbara is the most savvy, hardworking businesswoman
I’ve ever met. Her energy and “can do” attitude keeps us very focused
on our goal to bring Pork Barrel BBQ’s “Monumental Flavor” to the
entrepreneurs, what would you want first from Congress if you had your druthers
in terms of legislation, regulations or relaxation of regulations?
Heath – Small business is the economic engine that runs
America and has made us a world leader for so many years. If Congress doesn’t
begin to lessen the tax burden and loosen the regulatory burden placed on so
many small businesses, I fear that we’ll see fewer and fewer Americans take the
necessary risks associated with small-business creation. The first thing I’d
like to see Congress do is repeal the death tax, which penalizes Americans for
following their dreams and unduly burdens them for investing in and building
Brett – I am amazed at how much time we spend complying with
federal, state and local regulations – it leaves almost no time to sell Pork
Barrel BBQ sauce and rub!
Q: What is
the entrepreneurial-funding situation out there? Was “Shark Tank” really your
Heath – In today’s economy, it is very difficult to get the
necessary capital it takes to start a small business. We sought funding to help
get Pork Barrel BBQ off the ground from a number of sources before we found a bank
that would give us a small-business loan. Without the exposure from “Shark Tank”
and financial assistance from Barbara, Pork Barrel BBQ might have been a short-lived
Brett – Like so many small businesses, we have a lot of our
own money in the company. The combination of being on “Shark Tank” and
Barbara’s investment really gave us our big break. I just look at the main
street in my hometown and see how businesses are struggling to keep their shops
open – a chance like “Shark Tank” is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
the favorite flavor of the folks at the Heritage Foundation?
Heath – My coworkers at The Heritage Foundation have been very
bipartisan in choosing a favorite between the rub and the sauce (I think some
have even stuffed the ballot box voting once for the rub and once for the
sauce). It looks like we might have to take this vote to the Supreme Court and
have them decide a winner.
Q: BBQ is
often associated with Texas or the Deep South, but what does Missouri bring to
the table in terms of BBQ culture and history?
Heath – The great thing about BBQ is just how diverse it is
and how many styles there are, but if you are from Missouri, you believe that
Kansas City BBQ is king. For more than 100 years many have called Kansas City
the “Barbecue Capital of the World.” There are well over 100 barbecue joints in
the area (including legends like Gates and Sons Bar-B-Q and Arthur Bryant’s), and
Kansas City is host to the American Royal Barbecue Contest – one of the two
biggest Barbecue contests in the world.
Kansas City BBQ has a resume that would proudly stand in the same
interview line as resumes from Memphis, Texas and the Carolinas.
Q: If you
become BBQ moguls, will you abandon politics?
Heath – The
founding principles that have allowed this grand experiment called the United
States to flourish for more than 200 years is the reason I even have a chance
to become a BBQ mogul. Other American
moguls like Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Mellon stayed active in government and
politics, and I plan to do the same. For the American system to continue to work,
we all must be active participants or this grand experiment won’t last for
future generations. However, I won’t be asking Congress for a bailout – that I
Brett – I think Heath’s answer is the most political I’ve ever
read – which is a clear indicator that we never will – or could – abandon
political figures do you think would most enjoy a good BBQ (and which would you
most like to cook for)?
Heath – I have yet to meat a politician that didn’t love great
BBQ. In politics, you always have half
of the people loving you and the other half hating you, but in BBQ it seems
like everyone is backing you regardless of ideology. In 1769, George Washington
wrote an entry into his diary saying he “went up to Alexandria to a
‘barbicue.'” Our first Pork Barrel BBQ restaurant will be opening in
Alexandria, Va., in the spring and I’d love to get the chance have the Father
of our Country come back to Alexandria for another “barbicue.”
Brett – I can’t believe Heath
chose George Washington – I think our BBQ has a real role to play in solving our
nation’s current problems. We created Pork Barrel BBQ to help bridge the
partisan divide and unify our nation. We are confident that many of our
nation’s problems can be solved if our elected officials would take time to
talk about common sense solutions while eating Pork Barrel BBQ.
Heath – Barbara’s comment regarding the pig costume has
generated a number of reactions. Some
thought it was mean and generated a lot of sympathy, and others thought it was
funny and view it as a real improvement for me. I’m just having fun with it and
have garnered a whole new level of respect for mascots – it gets hot in those
suits! I’m still waiting to see if Barbara will join me at an event in a shark
Brett – Heath has such a great attitude – I’m so happy to have
him as my business partner, but I’m even happier that I don’t have to wear a