Alumni secure corporate funding on ‘Shark Tank’

Author: J.P. Gschwind

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Mitchell, left, and Doyle

The opportunity to appear on ABC’s “Shark Tank” is offered to a select number of entrepreneurs, but even fewer are able to close a deal with a shark and secure funding for their company.

Notre Dame alumni Mike Doyle and Drew Mitchell were able to do both on an episode of “Shark Tank” when they pitched their business, Rent Like a Champion, and landed a deal with Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca.

Rent Like a Champion is a housing rental company that targets fans traveling to college towns for games and other major events.  Doyle and Mitchell initially asked the sharks for an investment of $200,000 for a 10 percent equity stake, and eventually, Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca matched their terms.

“The whole ‘Shark Tank’ experience was surreal,” Doyle said.

Although the episode aired on Oct. 30, Doyle said it was filmed in June. The deal with Cuban and Sacca was signed in late August after the due diligence process.

Doyle said he became involved with the business by managing student apartment rentals as an intern during his time as undergraduate at Notre Dame.

“We realized there’s a huge market for people who want to rent homes on game weekends,” Doyle said.

Doyle said Rent Like a Champion began in South Bend, but expanded to other college towns when he realized the scalability of the business model.

“We can do this not just at Notre Dame, but we should be doing this at Penn State, at Michigan, at Florida State, all of these college towns around the country where this service makes sense,” he said.

This approach led to rapid growth, Doyle said, with an average growth rate of 80 percent over the last three years and a projected revenue of $4.1 million for 2015.

“It’s gone from me knocking on doors at Penn State to a team of seven employees,” Doyle said.

Although Rent Like a Champion was already quite successful, Doyle said “Shark Tank” represented a chance to rapidly accelerate their expansion from their current 21 towns to around 40.

“We see ‘Shark Tank’ as this opportunity to take things to the next level,” he said. “We’ve gotten to this point with a nice business that’s working really well, but the sharks are the most incredibly smart and accomplished business people you could possibly meet and they know how to bump businesses up a notch or two.”

Cuban and Sacca actively help Rent Like a Champion, Doyle said, by providing advice and support.

“They’re super plugged-in and very involved in the business,” Doyle said.

Read the entire story on The Observer website

Read Drew Mitchell's interview with the Mendoza College before the episode aired.