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Dowagiac native appears on ABC's Shark Tank

DOWAGIAC, Mich. --- A Dowagiac native is making his national debut on ABC’s Shark Tank on Sunday night.

Justin Crandall and his business partner, Mark Lamont, will stand in front of some of the world’s richest and most influential people, as they give their business pitch. Crandall said they asked for $500,000 for five percent equity in their company.

“Why in the world is my lawn still being mowed by a guy pushing a gas mower, that’s pushing a gas mower that emits more pollution than 11 cars,” said Crandall on the show. “There has to be a better way.”

Crandall said moments before the big pitch before judges, like Mark Cuban and Sir Richard Branson, were nerve-wracking.

“Once the dialogue starts, it starts to feel pretty natural,” he said. “You forget there are cameras and all that.”

The duo pitched their product called Robin Autopilot, what they call the world’s first robotic lawn service. They gave the judges a demonstration that he said left them enamored.

“All of the sudden the sharks just started talking over each other and jumping in with questions,” Crandall said.

He said it got to the point him and his partner couldn’t get another word in.

“It was fun, that kind of energy and excitement,” he said. “That’s what we see when we put one of these robots in people literally stop their cars and take pictures.”

Crandall said that’s the reaction any entrepreneur wants.

“Being an entrepreneur you have to be a little crazy,” he said.

He grew up in Dowagiac, the son of two local teachers. Crandall graduated from Dowagiac High School, and later, went on to get his MBA from Harvard University.

“One of the things I love about Shark Tank is that it shows that anybody can become an entrepreneur,” Crandall said. “It sparks that spirit in people to go out and create something new.”

He said he grew up in a small town with a population of about 6,000, which left him thinking his entrepreneurial dreams were far-fetched, but he shares this message with people just like him.

“They’re achievable, right, they’re reachable and hopefully the kids in areas like that see this and dream big,” said Crandall.

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