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Startup wins deal on TV’s ‘Shark Tank’

Tia Lupita Foods founder and CEO Hector Saldivar of Tiburon pitched business plans for his line of small-batch Mexican foods to investors in an April 14 episode of popular reality-TV show ‘Shark Tank.’ (ABC/Christopher Willard)

When Tia Lupita founder Hector Saldivar first re-created his mother’s treasured hot-sauce recipe, his friends and family funded his startup. They would try the thick, pepper-forward salsa, love it, and invest.

Now the Tiburon resident appears to have a big new funding source by winning a deal on ABC’s hit reality-TV show “Shark Tank.” And it was a rare offer from the five-member investor panel’s “Mr. Wonderful,” a tongue-in-cheek nickname for a venture capitalist known for his brutal negotiations.

“I’m super happy that we’re able to make a deal with Kevin O’Leary,” Saldivar said in an interview with The Ark. “Just being able to negotiate with him was a feat. Was that the best deal in the world? Maybe, maybe not. They’ve offered better deals, but I think under the circumstances and the stage that we’re in, it’s a great deal.”

In an episode that aired April 14, Saldivar pitched his business plan for Tia Lupita Foods, now a full line of handcrafted, small-batch salsas, tortillas and tortilla chips made with healthy and sustainable ingredients that he said did about $4 million in business last year.

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