SnapClips and ChangEd Score Investments on Shark Tank

Two Chicago startups appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank Sunday, Jan. 28, and both secured capital from the show’s investors.

SnapClips, which makes a weight collar designed to secure free weights to a barbell, received $150,000 in exchange for a 30 percent stake in the company from Mark Cuban, Alex Rodriguez and Lori Greiner.

SnapClips was founded by Martin Dimitrov when he was 16 years old and still in high school. He is now a full-time business student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he’s refining and growing the company, according to the company. He generated more than $23,000 in a 2015 Kickstarter campaign and won first place in the National U. Pitch Competition, hosted by Future Founders, a youth startup accelerator based out of 1871.

To date, the startup says it has delivered more than 800 pairs of SnapClips to over 15 countries.

ChangEd, a mobile app that helps users pay off their student loans with spare change from everyday purchases, secured a $250,000 investment for a 25 percent stake in the company from Cuban.

ChangEd, founded in 2016 by brothers Dan Stelmach and Nick Sky, has been used to pay down more than $100,000 in student loans. They operate out of 1871 and the University of Chicago’s Polsky Incubator.

During the episode, the founders said they have about 1,000 users, which all pay a $1 monthly fee. ChangEd plans to launch a feature later this year that will allow parents and spouses to link their accounts and contribute their spare change. Additionally, an Android version of the app is expected to launch later this year as well.

“The idea for this company came from our own personal pain paying down student loans,” Sky said in a statement. “So, it’s gratifying to have this national audience, given student loan debt now totals over $1.4 trillion and affects over 44 million Americans.”

Several Chicago-based startups have appeared on Shark Tank before, including Pearachute,Packback and LuminAID. Even if startups don’t receive investments from the show, the exposure they receive can have other effects that ultimately boost a startup’s bottom line.


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