Disabled veterans project in Charlotte, NC got second nod from ABC TV's "Shark Tank"

(Grover, NC) (as originally appeared in the Charlotte Examiner on June 13, 2013): A disabled US Military veterans group received a call recently to be thrown into the blood-filled waters of the popular "Shark Tank," TV series. Marti and Stormy Mongiello hope to be advanced to the third and final round this summer. If they succeed, they would air on the actual TV show (Series 5) this Fall. The idea? To expand an already successful operating inn, museum, cooking school and gift shops while helping more veterans in how to get started with small businesses and franchises themselves.

Hotel General Manager and Executive Chef Marti Mongiello admitted, "my mouth hit the floor when Ms. Katrina Marsh called on behalf of Producer, Mr. Mark Burnett to tell us we had made it past round one and were advancing to round two!!!. Our initial video sent in from Charlotte, NC (and pitch) got attention so they next invited us to have a five minute film made about us in round two. We also signed over 60 pages of financial information, investigations and legal documents." The group is awaiting final word that they will fly to round three and be on the show in Los Angeles.

They may be the first pitch to ever make it on the show from the Charlotte Metrolina region and certainly will be the most unique pitch ever. "When viewers see and hear our pitch they will never forget it due to its request for all five SHARKS to come in simultaneously, its military mission goal and the "ask" size of the dollar amount will shatter SHARK Tank historic records," shares Mongiello. "Shark Tank is the largest hero to American military history for vets that want to help themselves. Just because you are a cripple or were blown up by an IED doesn't mean you can't create wealth and a business that builds jobs."

The Inn of the Patriots is located in the town named after President Grover Cleveland and houses The Presidential Culinary Museum and Presidential Service Center. With over $500,000 in sales in just a few scarce years it is poised to expand to many more rooms, its first restaurant, a larger culinary institute and a larger 10,000 square foot gift shop. Managing Director Allan Miller showcases, "We have proven in an economic holocaust that it is possible for warriors to build wealth and new jobs through back-breaking work and creativity." The group of Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and Marine veterans are a success story for Americas trained killers. "We take the art of war to the business battlefield now and America wins every time," boasts Marti Mongiello. "Laying down to die is not an option."

Theirs is an amazing military story. Marti Mongiello himself straight out of the desert wars, military retired after 21 years and 50% disabled with the VA pushes through spinal, foot and leg pain seven days a week. "Who cares about physical pain daily? We've had some few folks tell us we would be bankrupt in five months from the day we opened, and refused to lend us one dime in 2008," States the former Executive Chef to the President of the USA and a Manager of the Camp David Resort and Conference Center. "I used my Post 9-11 GI Bill to obtain my bachelor's degree with the Art Institute (NYSE: EDMC) and appreciated the over-the-top help for veterans returning from the wars. It's the influence of Goldman Sachs and Providence Equity Partners driving the focus of the school to be sure to help veterans - that helped me." He returned from multiple deployments in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF-OEF) in 2004.

Figuring out how to get a SBA loan, proforma, liquidity, equity infusion, writing business plans, producing balance sheets and a profit and loss statement each day, or even twice daily for a banker can be an education. "So my husband and I got educated," states wife, inn co-owner and Executive Chef, Stormy Mongiello. She also is a disabled veteran looking beyond parades and monuments so is finishing her own BS degree this year. She recently received her PHR certification from SHRM.

The blood bath conducted with SHARKS ripping apart human bodies doesn't scare these two US Navy veterans. "Entrepreneurs in search of funding don't get to come into the lifeboat - that is for the SHARKS only and you speak to them from the water," Marti notes.

2013 UPDATE: The size of our request was larger than Shark Tank could handle - normally.  Few contestants have ever asked for more than five million dollars.  We were fortunate to not have to audition, and not have to sit in lines (miles long) due to the power of our proposal.  We were invited to jump the line by phone call from LA.  The second gate also was the interview and contract signing which went terrific.  Our film then made about us was done very well by Tim Helsley.  On June 24, we were notified that although we had made it through two rounds of Shark Tank cuts for 2013, we were invited to apply for the 2014 series.  As our request is currently for 7 to 12 million dollars we became unsure that Shark Tank would handle such - nor is normally interested in tier two, second stage funding requests.  The average funding was later explained to us to be about 120k for any request and certainly not congruent to our goals.  We are moving forward with four other investment groups instead and offered to them that a 100 million dollar SEC filing for a local hotel build has just been completed locally on July 24, 2013 (extended stay suites - which is excellent but not our genre or demographic).  

We did enjoy the Shark Tank experience and continue to be very happy for all entrepreneurs on the show and investors.  We owe a great debt of thanks to Barbara Corcoran for all of her help to move forward and in new directions.  She has provided us with excellent advice.  To read more about our expansion plans and watch our investors video click here or go to

We apologize to our many friends and colleagues who are always desirous of wanting to know what the "news is" and what is going on.  For over two years we have been working within the confines of several N.D.A.'s and QUIET periods wherein we cannot divulge land sizes, exact locations or specific amounts of money for reasons we are certain you can understand are laid down by the groups attorneys.  If anyone has a shot - it will be warriors and veterans.

LATE 2013 UPDATE: Our original concept and plans have now mushroomed with numerous requests from individual investment groups to create several successful inns and hotel properties, themed to a Colonial and Presidential flavor in Virginia, Washington, DC, Tennessee and North Carolina (we continue to be looking at Texas).  The NC investment trust was fully funded in the late summer of 2013 to open and build on several hundred acres in Cleveland County, NC.  We await the release date of that from Reg Alexander and Keith Miller.  At the same time, the 320 million dollar casino resort just three miles from our mansion was formally announced with the Catawba Nation.  That issue is now with the Secretary of the Interior.  Chef Marti was also featured in just over 100 newspapers around the earth starting with the Washington Post in August, 2013.

Early 2014 UPDATE: Moving up the ladder (Entrepreneur Magazine) with Shark Tank obviously was difficult and painful to do, yet we made it through several rounds.  Despite that our project was too large for them to financially handle, we turned a lot of heads and investors took note.  Part of the excruciating paperwork that required our willing release of equity to SONY and ABC as well as the SHARKS has now been stopped and removed (Forbes Magazine) from the process.  The New York Times reported on these financial positions precisely and we are unable to speak about them due to our current contract with Finnmax.  Mr. Cuban (Mark) offers excellent advice in, "“I would tell every entrepreneur what I tell them right now, debt is a nightmare.  Banks are not forgiving, and the last thing you want to do is build your business with a priority placed on having to pay back the bank before you invest further in your business.  Equity is far better and sweat equity is the best.”

We will continue to answer letters and phone calls from budding entrepreneurs and why our deal was too large (at the time) for the SHARKS, Sony, Finnmax and ABC.  We continue to help many in their journey and will also keep you updated if we decide to accept Shark Tank's offer to apply again with a smaller project.  They expressed interest in seeing us apply specifically with our jams and jellies lines.

April to July 2014 UPDATE: We have been asked to reapply and are now including Travis McVey of Heroes Vodka into the platform.  Thank you to Shark Tank for considering all veterans of the United States in a special Veteran's Day show for November 2014!  On July 15 we were notified that we had been passed over by the Producers again due to too large of a project and not being a consumer product good (CPG).  We were invited to apply again in 2015 and wish all of the other contestants our good luck.  Moving forward, the team has decided to consider several other offers up to 100 million USD being made available to us privately for an expanded resort.