Backyard Banger

Backyard Banger’s Outdoor Kitchen Wins Big at Sold-Out Shark Tank Event

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — After winning the $30,000 grand prize at the Youngstown Business Incubator’s Shark Tank event, Ty Aloe, CEO of Backyard Banger, may have bitten off more than he could chew.

“You’re all invited to my house,” declared the self-proclaimed outdoor cooking enthusiast to the crowd of nearly 700 who gathered Thursday night at Mr. Anthony’s in Boardman.

By all accounts the turnout was impressive, with many noting the connection between the large crowd and the community’s enthusiasm for the entrepreneurship supported by YBI.

“We couldn’t sell anymore tickets,” said Barb Ewing, CEO of YBI. “We exceeded our goal of $300,000. We’re at $315,000 and we’re probably not quite done yet.”

The evening, styled after the popular “Shark Tank” TV show, featured five local companies vying for up to $30,000 in prize money and potential investment from the panel of sharks.

Jeffrey Ryznar, president and owner of 898 Marketing, served as the master of ceremonies for the night.

The 2023 celebrity sharks included Marty Bushey, managing partner and founding member of Aztec Capital Management LLC; Danny Catullo, founder of Perishable Shipping Solutions and vice president of e-commerce at PPX Hospitality Brands; Tom Fleming, chairman of Aim NationaLease; Rob Fox, CEO and founder of Buckeye Dealership Consulting; Ellie Platt, owner and president of Platt Insurance; and Herb Washington, CEO and founder of HLW Fast Track Inc.

This year’s competition received more than 60 applications, with five companies ultimately selected to present their pitches.

“We’re really excited because this is the first year we’ve had all local companies pitching,” Ewing said.

Backyard Banger, a veteran-owned and operated business, builds and sells an outdoor kitchen on wheels, complete with a sink supplied by the user’s garden hose.

The unit also includes a mini-fridge, a large umbrella and outlets for appliances and a speaker.

“It’s a grill’s best friend,” said Aloe of the Backyard Banger, noting the unit eliminates the need to keep going back into the house to do prep work when cooking outdoors.

The other businesses selected were D.O.P.E. Cider House & Winery, Ohio’s first Black woman-owned cidery; Droxi AI, a machine learning system that learns from health care providers over time; Engineered Products Inc., specializing in custom-engineered RFID tags for the Department of Defense and heavy industrial markets; and Thera Logics, which is developing a portable device for at-home muscle rehabilitation.

Hannah Ferguson, owner of D.O.P.E., took home the $10,000 audience choice award, which the sharks matched, bringing her total winnings to $20,000.

The event also included a surprise mini YSU Penguin Shark Tank, offering a spotlight to up-and-coming student entrepreneurs.

Annabelle Himes, owner of Heroes and Tiaras, which offers live entertainers in pop culture costumes for events, won the $500 runner-up prize.

The $1,500 grand prize went to Saki Atsas, owner of SYK Soft Wash, a home-washing service.

YBI Shark Tank
Annabelle Himes and Saki Atsas took part in the YSU Penguin Shark Tank mini event.

While the night was a clear success, Ewing said it comes at “an inflection point for YBI.”

“We are pretty much out of space,” she said, adding YBI is preparing to announce a capital campaign to renovate its main building, which she noted has been neglected because of its fast growth at other buildings, such as Tech Block Building 5, which houses their additive manufacturing operations.

“While this is a fundraiser, it is very mission driven. We’re trying to get people thinking about entrepreneurship.”

Last year’s Shark Tank winner, Morgen Technology, a Cleveland-based company specializing in smart devices for hotels and multiunit apartment buildings, is poised to make a significant investment announcement, Ewing said.

She also noted that Lindsay Watson of Augment Therapy, the inaugural winner of the competition, has since raised more than $5 million in investments..

Pictured at top: Ty Aloe and Bobby Hallas hold the check for the $30,000 grand prize awarded to their company, Backyard Banger.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.