Meet the Barbara Corcoran Seal of Approval Contest Winners

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Barbara Corcoran

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of On Deck Capital, Inc.

My passion is business, and I am especially passionate about helping entrepreneurs take their successful businesses to the next level.

When I learned that OnDeck was launching a nationwide contest for small businesses on Facebook and Twitter, I wanted in! I teamed up with OnDeck to give three winners the opportunity of a lifetime: $10,000 to grow their businesses, national publicity through social and traditional media, and my favorite part – my Seal of Approval and a 1:1 session with me!

OnDeck and I want to see small business owners fulfill their dreams, and the response – nearly 600 entries from entrepreneurs nationwide – shows there are a lot businesses out there with big dreams… and needs for financing.

OnDeck and I asked the applicants how they would use $10,000 and national publicity to grow their businesses, and selected the winning submissions based on who made the most convincing pitches.

Meet the winners of my Seal of Approval!

BodyworksBall™ – Brick, NJ


BJ Dowlen is the owner of BodyworksBall™, a muscle-recovery tool for instant relief of neck, back, shoulder, foot pain, and more. BJ kept the energy high in our meeting from the moment we sat down together. Her knowledge of the physical wellness industry and desire to see her business succeed were palpable.

BJ suffered severe setbacks due to Superstorm Sandy but bounced back introducing her product to hundreds of athletes and gaining increased sales traction throughout 2015.

I was able to help BJ separate her best sales opportunities from the efforts that would yield poor results. BJ jumps at many of the opportunities that come her way, but it was important for her to prioritize the huge and enthusiastic effort she put into the most critical items.

The Gents Place – Dallas, TX


Entrepreneurs breed entrepreneurs, and that is exactly what Ben Davis, owner of The Gents Place, is looking to do. The Gents Place is a men’s grooming and lifestyle business that offers a modern take on the traditional barber shop.

Ben’s enthusiasm for his business was obvious the minute we sat down. His wife Lauren was with him, and she was integral to the operation of the business.

We spent a majority of the time outlining his new business model and getting a better understanding of where he wanted to take it. Ben has three highly successful locations already with a fourth on its way. That gives Ben a proof of concept for expanding the business with a franchise model.

Franchisees love to examine successful operations before they buy in. I was able to help Ben with some of the franchise selling points and smart strategy; drawing on the franchise experience I have with several of my Shark Tank investments.

The Sugar Path – Geneva, IL


Michelle Adams and Nina Cater are a pair of sisters who were sick of working in corporate America and wanted to use their time to do something that tapped into their passion for baking. They were two of my favorite entrepreneurs to speak with – and the cake and desserts they brought from their bakery, The Sugar Path, certainly helped!

Michelle and Nina are looking to expand the business online, so they aren’t just limited to their brick and mortar store and can sell their product nationwide. I suggested how they could make their branding more prominent on their packaging. Their new products include cakes in small jars and I suggested multiple ways they could merchandise and drive them to market.

It was such a pleasure meeting the winners. I am so inspired by their resiliency, determination, and thoughtfulness. I wish them every success.

And I would like to thank OnDeck for allowing me to take part in this fantastic contest and for giving underserved small businesses across the U.S. and Canada a chance to grow and prosper.

Make sure to come back over the next three months to see how our winners and their businesses are growing!

– Barbara Corcoran