One young Texan is proving she can swim with the sharks. Ten-year-old Mikaila Ulmer, founder of Austin-based BeeSweet Lemonade, got some financial backing on Shark Tank, the ABC reality show where startups seek money from big-wig investors like billionaire Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
On the March 21 episode, the poised young Austinite (who was there with her dad, Theo) pitched her BeeSweet Lemonade idea to the panel — and Daymond John took the bait. He promised the young entrepreneur $60,000 and an East Coast distribution deal in exchange for a 25 percent stake in the company.
Ulmer was inspired to start BeeSweet Lemonade after she was stung twice by the insect at the tender age of 4.
"I was terrified of bees, and I would overreact and freak out," Ulmer told KVUE in an interview. "So my parents wanted me to do some research on the bees and ... in doing that research I found out how incredibly important pollinators they are and that they're dying. So I decided to create a product that helps save the bees."
Around the same time, Ulmer's grandmother sent her a decades-old recipe for flaxseed lemonade. So Ulmer combined Great Granny Helen's recipe with her newfound love of bees to create a beverage company — involving the whole family — that doubles as an awareness campaign for the plight of honeybees. Each glass of lemonade uses local honey, and a portion of the proceeds goes toward various organizations that are working to save bees.
BeeSweet Lemonade, which you can buy locally at Whole Foods Market, has experienced so much growth and success over the past six years that Ulmer regularly speaks at workshops and panels about entrepreneurship and, of course, honeybees.
You can watch the Shark Tank episode with Ulmer here.