SDSU alumni featured on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’

by Georgina Vargas, Staff Writer

Two SDSU alums were on the ABC show Shark Tank Friday Feb. 24 for their beach towel company, and accepted a deal from InfoSec Entrepreneur Robert Herjavec.

Herjavec offered $200,000 for 15 percent of the company.

Steven Ford, Brandon Leibel and Bruno Aschidamini pitched their company, Sand Cloud, which sells beach towels and gives back 10 percent of its net profit to marine life organizations.

“Our company wanted to do something that has a bigger purpose, and we live right by the beach and it only made sense that we make something that fit really well,” Ford said.

Sand Cloud was started in the apartment that Ford, Leibel and Aschidamini share in Pacific Beach after they met at a job where they sold life insurance.

Ford said he and Leibel became best friends with Aschidamini at their life insurance job, and decided they would do whatever it took to get their company off the ground.

They quit their job selling insurance and sold their cars to start their business, and started shipping beach towels made in Turkey from their 2-bedroom apartment,which they still live in.

“This is the same apartment where everything started,” Aschidamini said.

They partnered with organizations such as San Diego Coastkeeper, Pacific Marine Mammal Center and the Surfrider Foundation to support them in preserving beaches, oceans and marine life.

“We used to walk down the beaches in PB and Mission Beach and ask people what they liked and had them follow our social media,” Ford said.

Since then, their social media presence has grown.hey now have 282 thousand followers on Instagram, a number that is still growing.

Advertising senior John Reith VII said much of the company’s success came from being a fad.

“But if they keep evolving and add new aspects, they can make it work for a long time,” he said.  

Many people including supporters and fans of Sand Cloud took to posting on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to talk about the outcome of Shark Tank.

The company has already been featured in the Huffington Post, and created the hashtag “SaveTheFishies” to spread knowledge of their towels and awareness in protecting marine life.

“The biggest thing is not so much the money, it’s the experience — growing with your best friends and doing something that is positive and important,” Ford said.

At the filming of Shark Tank, Ford said the experience of being on stage felt surreal.

“It’s pretty cool what they’re doing, because not many people get that far and they got a deal so it shows they have the willpower and put in a lot of work,” Reith said.