SAU Alum Jessica Haynes scores on Shark Tank

Entrepreneur Jessica Haynes made a deal on ABC’s Shark Tank March 1. On the show that connects millionaire investors (sharks) with hopeful entrepreneurs and promising ideas, the 24-year-old SAU graduate struck a deal and secured $70,000 in funding for her innovative interchangeable heel shoe business from shark Daymond John – in exchange for a 70-percent stake in her company. Haynes’ proposal had set the stake in her business significantly lower at 30-percent.

The other four sharks praised her drive and ambition, but did not choose to invest in her company. Only John took a chance on her idea, claiming that he related to Haynes’ shared experience about her family’s unwavering support and willingness to risk their own assets because of their belief in in her and her idea.

John admitted that the offer would “sting a little bit,” speaking of the greater stake he was requiring for the same amount of investment. Accepting the deal, Haynes quipped, “A small portion of a big thing is better than a big portion of a small thing.”

Haynes, who teamed with then classmate Kaci Matthews for the competition, won the Innovation Award in the 2011 Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Business Plan Competition with her brilliant interchangeable heel and magnetic shoe accessories idea.

In the Summer 2011 edition of The SAU Stater, Haynes said the idea started with a problem. Haynes had a favorite shoe that she wanted to wear, but the heel was broken. A solution to the problem was found in the idea of interchangeable heels. They named their revolutionary start-up business JessKa Shoe Company.

The original business plan included 30 pages of analysis on the product. It became more than a class a project to Haynes. She filed for a U.S. utility patent in 2011 and has been earnestly looking for investors to back the business.

“I knew that I needed a large injection of money into the company to move forward. Shark Tank is one of my favorite shows, so I had this crazy idea to apply,” Haynes told Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (ADG) reporter Gavin Lesnick.

To see Haynes’ on Shark Tank, watch the full episode on ABC’s website.


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