Backpack startup to debut on ‘Shark Tank’

Jeff Popp (left) and Casey Lorenzen present their startup to "Shark Tank" investor judges. Photos courtesy of Co.Alition.

Jeff Popp (left) and Casey Lorenzen present their startup to “Shark Tank” investor judges. Photos courtesy of Co.Alition.

Two Tennyson Street backpack designers are trying to bag a shark this Friday. And you can watch it all on reality TV.

Casey Lorenzen and Jeff Popp, founders of the Co.Alition and MHM backpack brands, will appear on the ABC reality show “Shark Tank” at 8 p.m. Friday.

“Shark Tank,” now in its seventh season, is a reality show where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to five venture capitalists. The show’s cast includes Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John and Kevin O’Leary.

Lorenzen and Popp stumbled into the show by coincidence, Lorenzen said.

“We were sharing space with one of my buddies who told us he’d heard about (an open casting call) that morning on the radio,” Lorenzen said. “We were like, ‘Let’s go do that.’ Four or five rounds of eliminations later, we got to the point where we got out there and filmed.”

The pair will pitch their Co.Alition brand to the show’s sharks in the hope that one bites at the offer and buys into the startup. Co.Alition packs, intended for on-the-go professionals, are equipped with an external hard drive and a power source to charge cell phones.

The duo could not disclose any financials of the arrangement because of an NDA with the show’s producers, Lorenzen said. But he said any capital raised from the show will go toward branding, operational costs and the production of new items to be released later this fall.

It took a year and a half to complete the application and filming process, Lorenzen said, which began with a casting call in Glendale’s Infinity Park Event Center and ended on Sony’s studios in Cupertino, California, last June.

The process usually doesn’t take that long, but the show’s producers decided to bump Co.Alition a season, Lorenzen said.

“The last few weeks before filming, (preparing for the show) became our full-time job,” Lorenzen said.

To prepare for the show’s air date, Lorenzen said that he and Popp have been tightening their website.

“The post-show bump has been known to crash people’s websites, so we want to make sure the bandwidth is there,” he said.

Lorenzen and Popp have appeared on TV before with appearances on 9News featuring their MHM line of backpacks. But “Shark Tank” will put the duo in front of the largest audience they’ve ever seen, Lorenzen said.

But Popp and Lorenzen aren’t strangers to raising capital. The duo has raised almost $100,000 through three Kickstarter campaigns since 2012, including a $20,000 raise that closed in December.

Venture capital investment was the next logical choice after the trio of successful Kickstarter campaigns, Lorenzen said.

“We’ve gotten to the point where it’s almost going to be a necessity,” he said. “You can only raise so much capital on your own. To get the business to where we want it to be, we need an outside investor.”

The pair opened their first brand store on Tennyson Street and 43rd Avenue last year to coincide with the launch of the Co.Alition brand.

Lorenzen and Popp are hosting a public viewing party at Mile High Spirits at 2201 Lawrence St. starting at 6 p.m. on Friday. The episode airs at 8 p.m. and will feature three other companies: a college student pitching an SAT aid, two fitness enthusiasts with a new sports bra and an entrepreneur pitching an outdoor cooler.

Co.Alition is the second Colorado outdoor company to be featured on reality TV recently. Knights of the Air Longboards appeared on CNBC’s “The Profit” last month.

Jeff Popp (left) and Casey Lorenzen present their startup to "Shark Tank" investor judges. Photos courtesy of Co.Alition.

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