Entrepreneurs Anthony Duncan, Mohammed A. Mahdi and Mohammed M. Mahdi took their soap company to ABC’s Shark Tank to see if they could get a deal from one of the investors.
The Mad Optimist is a personalized soap company that specializes in vegan, halal, cruelty-free, non-GMO, gluten-free products.
They pitched their business to Sharks Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec and guest Shark Daniel Lubetzky, the founder of Kind. The episode is the season finale for Shark Tank.
Here’s what you should know about The Mad Optimist:
1. The Founders Are Vegan
The founders of The Mad Optimist are Muslim and vegan, so when they learned that traditional soap contains animal fats, they hated the idea of cleaning their bodies with it.
Enter The Mad Optimist: their radically different soap and body care company that features vegan, halal, cruelty-free, non-GMO and gluten-free soaps.
The business they created holds up their own personal values and centers around community, kindness, transparency and equality.
2. The Company is Based in Indiana
The Mad Optimist is based out of Bloomington, Indiana. The founders are from the midwest, though they did not grow up in Indiana, that’s just where they attended university together.
Duncan is a native of Columbus, Ohio where he graduated from Jennings County High School, and the Mahdi brothers are from Chicago. They started selling their product in Indiana and at places like the Columbus Farmers Market, but they were having a hard time growing their business outside of that.
“We had kind of run into a ceiling after being accepted locally,” Duncan told The Republic. “It was looking a bit rocky there. We were trying to figure out what we should do and what our next steps should be.”
3. They Are Passionate About Vegan Causes
For each product purchased between 8 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. Friday, May 15, the company is donating all revenue to a range of causes and charities.
The website’s “Humanifesto” echoes the sentiments about causes being important to them. It reads, “We give a sh*t. About people, our planet and everything on it and doing the right thing.”
They also say that everything they do is done through the lens of their Islamic faith.
“As Muslims and vegans, we don’t eat meat and hated the idea of cleaning our bodies with animal fat,” the website reads.
4. The Mad Optimist Makes Customized Bars of Soap and Body Care Products
The company makes customized bars of soap and other body care products, and they’re including a free 4-ounce bar of soap with every online order during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We want to encourage additional hand-washing, not a rationing of soap,” Mohammed M. Mahdi told the Indy Star.
In order to make their products fully customizable, they came up with a way to make soap that’s available for immediate use rather than soaps that are cured for days or weeks. The products have expanded to include lip balms, body sprays and bath soaks in the time since founding the company.
5. Each Employee Receives the Same Hourly Wage
Every employee that works for The Mad Optimist receives the same hourly wage with the idea that that wage will go up as company profits increase. The founders are currently forgoing a salary to help put more money into the business.
Their website says they’re passionate about transparency to the point that they put their month-to-date sales right on the website for everyone to see. At the time of writing, they have made $10,713.78 this month.
Customers are also able to choose what they pay for the products. For a bar of soap, prices range from $6 to $16.
Tune in to the season finale of Shark Tank on Friday, May 15, 2020 at 8 p.m./7 p.m. central to see if The Mad Optimist can get a deal from one of the Sharks.