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Sharks said 'no' but feedback excited local business owner

By TIM TROGLEN Reporter Published: February 15, 2017 12:12 AM
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PENINSULA -- While not offered a deal by the cast of ABC's "Shark Tank," a local man was buoyed by the feedback given to him by Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John and Kevin O'Leary.

Evan Delahanty, of Peninsula and owner of Peaceful Fruits, a snack startup which makes healthy fair trade snacks with ingredients from the Amazon Rainforest, appeared on the Feb. 10 episode of the show to see if any of the sharks would offer him an investment deal for a percentage of his company.

None of the five hosts offered the 2003 Walsh Jesuit grad a deal, but each one praised him for his entrepreneurship and predicted he will go far with his business.

"Presenting to the sharks was incredible affirmation. They didn't invest, but they made it clear that was more of a timing/scale mismatch then a negative comment on Peaceful Fruits," Delahanty said. "They were incredibly positive and helpful -- it was amazing to see them get what social enterprise is all about."

Part of Delahanty's social enterprise includes using fair trade ingredients from the Amazon rain forest which are produced and packaged by employees from the Blick Center and Hattie's Food Hub, a work training program at Hattie Larlham.

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Peaceful Fruits launched in 2014 after Delahanty spent time at college and as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Amazon.

While in the Peace Corps, Delahanty helped villagers with economic development and entrepreneurial support.

"The village I lived -- you drove until the sidewalk ended and then you kept on driving for a couple of hours," Delahanty explained. "When you got to the river, you jumped in a canoe and motored for another couple of hours until you got to my village. The most peaceful commute you've ever had."

After returning to Peninisula in 2013, Delahanty wanted to keep in touch with his friends in the Amazon and helped keep them economically empowered.

"That's where the idea for Peaceful Fruits came about," he said.

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The fruit, wild Acai, grows naturally in the rain forest and it helps sustain the market of the village community.

"It's a renewal source of income for them that gives them some control," Delahanty said.

The business owner said he also wanted to work with folks locally that needed economic opportunities.

The partnership between Hattie, Blick and Peaceful Fruits was born in almost the first week of the company's existence, Delahanty said. While at a Peninsula farmer's market handing out products, he met a man about his age, A.J., and A.J.'s mom. A.J. has Down Syndrome.

According to A.J.'s mom, her son was willing to help with the product.

"I was still doing all the production myself," Delahanty said. "I was so lucky to meet A.J. and his mom. It was a match made in heaven."

Delananty was introduced to some folks at Hattie's Food Hub and ended up being the hub's initial client.

"Everything was perfect," Delahanty said. "Their food dehydrator is just what I needed to produce my fruit snacks. And now we have a whole group helping us at the Blick Center. And we've been blown away by the partnership."

In the hours after appearing on the show, Peaceful Fruits equaled last year's sales, Delahanty said.

"So we have quite a bit of production and order fulfillment to do. We are hard at work on new flavors and new sales goals, but our focus for the next few weeks is going to have to be getting customers their snacks -- because that's what this is all about," Delahanty added."The Sharks may not have invested, but the show was 100 percent a success in my book. We all got to see some of the most bloodthirsty investors in capitalism understand that business is changing. Doing things the right way -- for the environment and your local community -- is the future of business.

"I'm so proud to be part of changing the conversation and, hopefully, to be a growing success story. The Sharks, it felt like, said 'Great start, but you aren't there yet.' I want to say -- 'challenge accepted.'"

For more information on Peaceful Fruits visit www.Peacefulfruits.com

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

Twitter: @Trog_RPC

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