Andrew Buerger, co-founder of organic dairy and smoothie company B’More Organic, won $10,000 and a one-on-one consultation with ABC’s “Shark Tank” investor Barbara Corcoran, all while appearing on the “Rachael Ray Show.”
The episode, which aired Tuesday morning, showed an eager Buerger, 51, and two other finalists giving a 30-second pitch to Corcoran and Ray for the chance to win the grand prize — but it turned out, they all were winners.
"This was an easy decision because each of you were totally convincing, and that's why you were already winners, and you're each going to get the $10,000," said Corcoran, who is spokeswoman for small business lender OnDeck, who launched its "Seal of Approval" contest in October.
Buerger said he discovered the contest while browsing through Facebook.
“We applied thinking we were never going to win,” Buerger said. But on Nov. 8, word came that the company was a finalist. Days later, Buerger was told that he had to create a video and a 30-second pitch, which would be delivered before Corcoran on the "Rachael Ray Show."
“I was practicing and practicing. It was completely nerve-wracking,” said the Roland Park resident, who added that he didn't expect to be on national television. Buerger traveled to New York to deliver the pitch Nov. 15. “I couldn’t sleep, literally. I was going over these 30 seconds."
The experience on the show was exciting, he said — but also cryptic.
“You go over by even a second and it’s over for you,” Corcoran warned before finalists gave their pitch.
And in “one big blur” — Buerger explained his company, plans for the money and the consultation, and his hope to help people "b'more healthy."
Buerger's Hampden-based company, which he started with his wife in 2010, produces skyr, an Icelandic cultured dairy product that has no added sugar and is high in protein. The company also donates a portion of the proceeds to the Johns Hopkins University for research into breast cancer and other forms of disease.
Despite the company selling in major supermarkets across the country, Buerger said he wanted to learn how to further educate consumers and move products off the shelves “to help take a bite out of disease and give money to research."
“The big win is to sit down with Barbara Corcoran. She’s got the golden touch. She can really help make or break your business ... We’re not the billion-dollar yogurt [company]. We don’t have a lot of dollars behind it,” but with the $10,000 from OnDeck, he can likely implement some of Corcoran's suggestions, he said.
Overall, Buerger, who will host a private viewing of the show tonight, said being on the show was affirming.
“It's just valuable for us that the journey we’re on has been accepted. … I cried happy tears after the cameras stopped,” Buerger said.
“The silly dream that I had in my kitchen in Roland Park is coming true, so that’s really the reward for us.”