Minn. Entrepreneurs Pitch Lionfish as Food to 'Sharks'

Updated: 03/31/2013 11:22 AM KSTP.com By: Scott Theisen

A sales pitch on an aquatic species doesn't necessarily give you a better shot on ABC's "Shark Tank."

Friday night, two Minnesota entrepreneurs were on the show, hoping to convince a high-rolling investor, or Shark, to invest in their company.

Dave Johnson and Gary Groomes are behind the Plymouth-based company called Traditional Fisheries.

The business centers around an invasive fish called the lionfish. It looks great in an aquarium, but the venomous, aggressive, foreign invader is ruining the coral reefs in the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean. In the past few decades they've grown to tens of millions. Because they're eating up crab, lobster and other shellfish, they're hurting foreign tourism and even starting to have a small impact on our economy.

Dave and Gary's plan is to control lionfish by adding it as a new dish to our seafood menu. It's not a full-time job for Dave and Gary, which is why they went to "Shark Tank." They were hoping to get a $225,000 investment from them to make it a full-time gig.

How'd they do? It seemed once the Sharks found out Dave and Gary had only made $12,000 in sales, the pitch went south quickly. Each Shark backed out for their own reason, but they all enjoyed their sample of lionfish.

Dave and Gary spoke with us Friday about their experience on the show. They said being in front of the Sharks was scarier than they expected, but made them better businessmen.

In 2011, Jason Davis went "On the Road" to take a look at the lionfish. See his stories here. Watch a recent interview with the entrepreneurs here.