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Mark Cuban Invests in Living Christmas Co. on 'Shark Tank'

The locally owned live Christmas tree rental company, owned by "Scotty Claus," receives big investment during an appearance on ABC's 'Shark Tank.'

Christmas came early for the Redondo Beach Christmas tree rental service Living Christmas Co. on Tuesday night after owner Scott Martin appeared on the ABC primetime reality show Shark Tank.

Martin, better known as "Scotty Claus," made an appearance on the show in which entrepreneurs pitch their businesses and ideas to a group of "Sharks"—business tycoons, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, looking to invest in up-and-coming companies.

During Tuesday's episode, the Living Christmas Co., which rents out live, potted Christmas trees during the holidays, received a $150,000 investment from Cuban in exchange for a 40 percent stake in the Redondo Beach-based company.

"The time has come to invite a partner," Martin told the five sharks during his pitch. "Just because it is a good idea doesn't make my trees grow faster ... but money does."

Nevertheless, Martin's new-found investment did not come easily during the episode; the other four sharks bowed out. Some walked out gracefully, while others left with a bit more bite.

"Let me tell you all the ways I hate this business," began software developer Kevin O'Leary. "No. 1, I hate it because it is for only six weeks of the year. No. 2, I hate it because it is more expensive than just buying it so my market is only people that 'kum-bay-ya' and don't want to kill a tree," O'Leary continued. "And then No. 3, I hate it because the competition is a plastic tree that I can get that looks identical ... I really hate it, I'm out."

Other sharks were more kind but were wary of the low $30,000 profit Martin's company makes each year after four years in business. 

"I don't want to be a grinch, but I am not seeing the growth curve," said shark Robert Herjavec. "I think it is a good business for you; not an investment for me."

Real estate industry giant Barbara Corcoran echoed Herjavec's sentiments.

"I don't doubt your passion ... I am out because I don't believe there is enough profit in this business," Corcoran said.

Martin is known in Redondo Beach for hiring veterans to work for his company, as well as for his charitable efforts. While Martin admitted his company doesn't make him rich, he reminded the sharks that it does a lot of good in the community, and more capital means hiring more veterans.

"Having a business that is able to give back and make money and make a profit is meaningful," Martin said in a last-ditch plea. "I give people meaningful jobs during the holidays that they wouldn't have otherwise."

It was a point not lost on Mark Cuban.

"I am a believer of convenience with a conscience," Cuban said before giving his offer. "There are so many positives about this that if the only thing keeping you from doing this a thousand times more is money—money is easy ... doing the right thing isn't."

With his investment, Cuban said he hopes to help revamp the Living Christmas Co.'s website and provide profiles of each tree and each veteran that delivers the trees.

Cuban also said he will have to work with Martin to help fix his capital challenges.

"You are the landscape architect ... All that side of it is all you," Cuban told Martin. "We are going to have to work together to figure out how to scale this thing."

With the money, Martin said he hopes to plant more trees from seedlings as well as install an automatic irrigation system in his nursery.

"It has been something I have worked so hard, went through so many long days, long nights working for this, believing in this," Martin said at the end of his segment. "The fact that Mark Cuban believes in it, too, is so invigorating and so empowering that I can't wait to share it with the world."

Eva Mauer January 02, 2013 at 02:28 AM
We have loved having our tree delivered and starting the season celebration with the elves. We had so many comments about how beautiful our tree looks and are looking forward to celebrating this way in the years to come
Author Tillie Wells November 29, 2013 at 09:59 PM
How is this business doing?

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