In Shark Tank episode 627, Mont Handley presented PittMoss to the panel of investors – an eco-friendly peat moss alternative constructed from recycled paper. After it first stirred a spark in his mind back in 1994, he dedicated two decades to perfecting and validating this concept. Thanks to his hard work and dedication, Pitt Moss has achieved success beyond what anyone could have expected!
Over the years, Handley acquired grants from both the EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research Program and The Idea Foundry, a Pittsburgh-based enterprise incubator committed to socially responsible businesses.
PittMoss was a company that appeared on Shark Tank in early 2018. They pitched their product, which is a sustainable growing medium made from recycled plastic and organic materials. The Sharks weren’t interested in the business, and Mark Cuban even went so far as to call it a “shit product”. However, the company has continued to grow and has even landed some big deals since appearing on the show. Keep reading to find out what happened after PittMoss left Shark Tank!
What Is PittMoss?
PittMoss is known for creating a peat moss substitute. This product is created to provide some of the mixes that are necessary for commercial growth .
Made out of organic additives and recycled paper, this is a product that most consumers appreciate for being friendly to the environment.
The goal of this product is to provide commercial farmers and home gardeners with a good alternative for peat moss that is made out of sustainable and recycled materials that are good for the environment.
In the process, this results in plants that are bigger and stronger.
It may have taken over twenty years to test and perfect a recyclable product comparable to Peat Moss, but that’s what Mont Handley, the inventor of Pitt Moss and newest Shark Tank Contestant has done.
Compared to harvesting Sphagnum Peat Moss that’s not helping our planet in any way, the Pitt Moss is made of a mixture of organic additives and recycled paper. The cost to consumers is comparable in price and always a “very good thing” for any recycled product. But the main benefit of using PittMoss compared to Peat Moss is that the product has proven to be superior in a variety of case studies and experiments from large nurseries.
Who Is The Founder Of PittMoss?
Mont Handley is a resident of Chicago, Illinois . He once volunteered in the United States Army as a clerk and military policeman. After that, he pursued a bachelor’s degree in history at Purdue University.
He first worked in a nursery, and in 1998, he was appointed the Director of Planning and Environmental Services for Portage, Indiana. After two years, he worked as a senior sales manager at the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority.
Mont was hired to be the national sales director of the travel arrangements company VisitPITTSBURGH in 2005. His job was to recruit for regional seminars, conferences, symposiums, and meetings.
The Chicagoan first had the idea of a peat moss alternative back in 1994. It started out as a simple kitchen experiment while he was still working at a local nursery.
While on the job, he became aware of several issues with conventional peat moss and the harm it was doing to the environment. So, he set out on a long-term project to resolve the issue. In 2011, he finally came up with PittMoss.
PittMoss is a low-cost product that uses recycled paper and several other organic materials. After shipping out the first batch, Mont saw the potential in his invention and quit his job to focus on the business full-time.
PittMoss Before Shark Tank
Mont Handley pitches PittMoss, his eco-friendly peat moss substitute made from recycled paper, in Shark Tank episode 627. Handley created the first batch of Pitt Moss back in 1994 and spent the next 20 years developing, testing, and proving the concept of a peat moss substitute.
Throughout those years, Handley received grants from the EPA through their Small Business Innovation Research program and funding from The Idea Foundry, a Pittsburgh-based business incubator focusing on socially responsible businesses.
Handley also had a number of Universities test PittMoss for everything from water retention to plant nutrient uptake. The result of his years of hard work was proof PittMoss is a viable peat moss substitute. Peat moss is commonly used in commercial greenhouses and by hobby gardeners throughout the world.
The problem is, harvesting peat moss from peat bogs destroys wetlands and eliminates a hundred years’ worth of growth in one harvest. Since peatlands store, 33% of the world’s soil carbons, losing peat to commercial harvest increases the number of carbons released into the atmosphere.
PittMoss is made from recycled paper, so it’s a renewable resource that doesn’t threaten habitats. The extensive research Handley conducted is now paying dividends. PittMoss is available in the Eastern US to commercial growers. Handley likely wants to expand his commercial sales and break into the retail market. He’s likely looking for a Shark to help expand his distribution channels and fund more production.
PittMoss On Shark Tank: The Pitch
Mont Hanley started his segment with the audition tape for Pittmoss. He showed his storefront in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He said that his product is a replacement for Peet moss, which is an additive that helps plants retain water and grow faster, and is used in nurseries and greenhouses. Mont went on to tell the audience that peat moss is not environmentally friendly, and has terrible environmental consequences.
The places where peat moss grows release a ton of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. This comprises a whopping 8% of carbon emissions per year. He went on to say the Earth could be in big trouble if the problem is not dealt with.
Hanley went on to say that his product offers an alternative to peat moss that is more environmentally friendly and sustainable. He went on to list the ingredients, telling the audience that PittMoss is made from recycled newspapers, which would otherwise go to landfills. Hanley noted that he felt compelled to succeed, both for himself and the world as a whole. He called it the American Dream.
Mont walked out onto the stage and introduced himself to the Sharks. He told them he was from Pittsburgh, and Mark Cuban laughed in recognition. Mont told the Sharks he would like to offer them 25% equity in exchange for an investment of $ 600,000 .
He told them that his product, Pittmoss, is a soil alternative that will help make the earth a little greener. He said that it is common to see plants for sale in all venues, from gardening centers to supermarkets. The soil that the plants come with is up to 85% peat moss, which is taken from drained peat bogs.
According to Mont, it would help the fight against global warming to leave the peat bogs alone and use an alternative. This thought spurred the idea for Pittmoss, which is created from recycled paper and a proprietary formula of organic additives.
Mont claimed that Pittmoss was better than the usual stuff in every way. He even brought plants that were grown in Pittmoss for the Sharks to see.
The plants did seem to be thriving. Mont asked the Sharks, who wanted to be a “dirty capitalist” and invest in his peat moss alternative company. Robert wanted to see a sample, and Mont started handing little cups of the stuff out to each of the Sharks. Barbara asked him how the Pittmoss compared to dirt, but Mont said that it was not an equal comparison. She followed up with how it compared to peat moss.
Mont answered that peat moss is a high-end product that is normally used by garden stores and nurseries. It costs $ 2.50 a cubic foot while Pittmoss costs $ 2 a cubic foot retail. Mont said he made 60% profit on that price. Barbara seemed impressed that it was both much cheaper and also good for the environment.
Mont claimed that he could help farmers save 15% on their running costs since it’s a cheaper and more efficient product. While peat moss tended to have impurities such as larvae and pesticides, the Pittmoss is completely sterile, and every batch is the same. Mont said that Pittmoss also retains moisture for longer than standard peat moss, which allows farmers to water their crops half as much. Kevin wanted to know about his sales.
Mont said that their sales are not so good. He stated that he built the plant a year ago, after quitting his day job and cashing out his 401Ks as he could not find investors willing to work with him. Mont started off giving the PittMoss away to potential clients and then got his first sale two months in. He said that he made $ 22,000 in the last seven months.
Mark and Robert wanted to know why the orders did not keep coming in. Mont stated that he has repeated orders to the tune of $ 160,000 in sales agreements, but he was unable to meet that need. His little factory was at capacity. Robert asked how much the existing plant can make. Mont answered that it could do 200,000 tons a year, which equated to $ 60,000 in revenue. Robert asked Mont if he knew going into the business that the building he was building could only produce that little product.
Mont said that he just built the factory to prove his concept. Kevin asked about the path of resistance to selling the product. He stated that changing purchasing behavior was a big challenge. Mont said that was not something that he experienced. He dealt with growers who had no allegiance to peat moss, and who were willing to give it up.
Kevin came up with a hypothetical tomato farmer who was just waiting for Mont to build the new factory and would have no resistance to switching. Mont claimed that was essentially what it was like, but the tomato farmer would initially grow a small percentage of crops in the Pittmoss first.
Lori asked him if his plan was to service greenhouses, and farmers or sell it straight to consumers. Mont said that the scheme was to sell commercially first and then scale into the consumer market via the starter soil in plants. Lori followed up by asking how he was getting to the greenhouses.
Mont said that he provided each potential B2B customer with a 50 cubic foot unit of product to try out. Robert told Mont that his product was creative and asked how he’d come up with the idea. Mont said that he’s been very interested in commercial greenhouses since he was a little kid. He even bought one as a 12-year-old. He got his first job right out of college as a greenhouse attendant.
Mont told the Sharks that he was going to sign a deal with Angel investors that Friday, who were comfortable with the high valuation. Robert asked how much he was raised from them, and Mont said that they were raising $ 400,000 in convertible notes. Mark asked him how much it would cost to max out the plant. Mont told him that it would cost $ 120,000, which would bring in a revenue of $ 1.6 million.
Barbara interrupted the flow of conversation, saying that she wanted to clear the field. She stated that he just had $ 22,000 in sales in seven months. She said that everything else they were talking about it just conjectures, and the true sales figure was the only fact. She went out.
Kevin asked Mont how much of the business he currently owns. Mont told him 70 %. Kevin asked him if he was going to sell out his control of the business simply to finance his potential. Mont didn’t see it that way, but Kevin explained that he would have 49% after the Sharks and the angel investor. Mark asked if Mont would be willing to walk away from the angel investors if he got a deal with the Sharks.
Mont considered it, and he said he most likely would. Lori stated that she agreed with Barb, and she was worried that it would take people a long time to switch over from peat moss. Mont tried to stop her, but she barreled through, stating that it was an unproven model. She went out. He thanked her and told the remaining Sharks that Pittmoss was not just a phase.
Many governments were taking steps to stop the use of peat moss, and the U.K. had set dates for countries to stop voluntarily using it. Kevin looked like he was about to go off on a rant, but Robert stopped him. Robert wanted to make an offer. He said he did not want to take the full brunt of the $ 600,00, but would put up $ 200,000, and was looking for another Shark to join him.
Kevin said that there was more value in a Shark than the Angel investors, and stated that he would like to give Pittmoss $ 600,000 in each for 40%, and kept the offer open to other Sharks. Mont looked taken aback and said that he thought Kevin disvalued the business too much.
Kevin said that he was open to a counteroffer, and Mont stated that he would be willing to go as high as 30%. Kevin said that if Pittmoss went to 35%, they had a deal. Mont looked stumped.
Mark cut in and said that he was willing to go in with Kevin and Robert for the 35%. Mont stated that it seemed like a great deal, and the four business partners shake hands. In his exit interview, Mont professed his gratitude. He said clearly that the contract opened him up to be able to support himself in the business he loved. He seemed genuinely happy. It was uplifting to see.
After its Shark Tank episode aired, the deal with the three Sharks closed but PittMoss encountered some manufacturing issues. Given Cuban’s interest in eco-friendly businesses, it’s not surprising he’s more involved than Kevin and Robert.
Founder Mont Handley stepped down as CEO in 2016 and was replaced by Brian Scott. Although Mont no longer runs the company he still has a seat on the board.
The product is now available on Amazon, where it has a 4.2-star rating from 21 users. Today, PittMoss is planning to expand globally to boost its $ 3 million annual revenue which is worth an estimated $ 4.5 million.
The Net Worth Of PittMoss
As of September 1, 2021, the new PitMoss crowdfunding campaign has raised up to $ 379,011 from approximately 2,019 investors.
And it is a good number for any business. In a Form C filed on August 31 this year with the SEC, PitMoss reported total assets of around $ 897,291 of a company for 2020 and $ 344,574 in both short-term and long-term debt, which puts PitMoss’ net worth at about almost $ 552,717 .
To date, the company PitMoss is running its equity crowd-investing campaign through Republic. And last year, the company was actually able to raise $ 237,107 through a similar campaign with Republic.
The company is growing really fast, more than the founders and investors expected. And if it continues to grow at the same pace for a few more years, it could become one of the best in its field.
- What is PittMoss good for?
PittMoss is a versatile, sustainable material made from recycled agricultural waste that can be used in a wide variety of applications . It is a great alternative to conventional building materials like concrete and wood, as it is stronger and more durable than both while also being lightweight, breathable, water-resistant, and affordable.
Some common uses for PittMoss include landscaping and gardening (as a soil amendment or mulch), construction projects (such as flooring or roofing), and even manufacturing (as an ingredient in paints or adhesives). Whether you’re looking to build something new or simply improve your existing landscape, PittMoss has the versatility and durability to get the job done.
- What is PittMoss made out of?
PittMoss is made from recycled agricultural waste, including rice hulls, sawdust, and nut shells. This material is mixed with water and formed into small pellets, which are then heated under high pressure to create a strong and lightweight material. The end result is a versatile, sustainable building material that can be used in a wide range of applications.
As an added bonus, PittMoss also contains nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous that help promote plant growth when used as a soil amendment or mulch. So not only can you use it to build things, but you can also use it to enhance your existing plants and landscapes!
- How is PittMoss doing now?
Since its appearance on Shark Tank in 2016, PittMoss has experienced rapid growth and gained a loyal following among both builders and gardeners. It is now used for a wide range of projects, from building homes to creating beautiful landscapes and gardens.
And thanks to the success of PittMoss, more agricultural waste is being recycled than ever before, helping to reduce our reliance on traditional building materials like concrete and wood while also protecting our environment.
- What is the pH of PittMoss?
- How do you use PittMoss?
There are many different ways to use PittMoss, depending on your specific project and needs. For example, you can use it as a soil amendment or mulch in gardens or landscaping for enhanced plant growth, or incorporate it into construction projects like flooring, roofing, and insulation. No matter how you choose to use it, PittMoss is a versatile and sustainable building material that is sure to get the job done.
Useful Video: PittMoss | Factory Tour