Philadelphia's Veterans Shark Tank finds entrepreneurs among military vets
By ERIN ARVEDLUND | The Philadelphia Inquirer | Published: January 7, 2020
PHILADELPHIA (Tribune News Service) — Arthur Toole, founder of MegRelief, won the $50,000 prize at the latest Veterans Shark Tank, an annual event that’s helped burnish entrepreneurs from military veterans.
Veteran Shark Tank provides an opportunity for veterans to network with business leaders and entrepreneurs. The event last month featured pitches by five regional qualifier winners from across the country, as they competed for the chance to win the grand prize to fund their new business venture.
Veteran Shark Tank was the official kickoff for the 2019 Army-Navy football game here last month, and Toole pitched to a packed crowd including Rebecca Gray, executive director of military and veteran affairs at Comcast NBCUniversal, and Admiral Capital co-founder David Robinson, former Navy and professional basketball star and now a private equity investor in the region.
Toole got the idea for his winning pitch — MegRelief — “after I was trying to play basketball with guys 10 years younger. I was walking around limping. My wife is from Grenada, and they rubbed this oil on the knee, and the pain went away.”
By 2011, he realized “We gotta share this with everybody. I spent the next seven years creating a version of it that stayed all natural,” and came up with the name MegRelief. He and his wife, also an Army veteran, gave samples to physical therapists and “we knew we had something. We launched in March 2019.”
It’s available for purchase online at megrelief.com as well as Amazon and farmers markets in the Delaware Valley. The website describes the “100% natural nutmeg pain relief” as a “topical oil alternative for helping to decrease pain and inflammation for all kinds of aliments.”
The web site also acknowledges that “MegRelief has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any diseases.” Experts say such products can be a waste of money because they have have not been conclusively proven to work in a clinical trial.
Taking part in the 7th annual Veterans Shark Tank “reminded me what it felt like to be in the military. It’s family. you don’t have to like each other, but you take care of each other," Toole said. He and his wife operate the business out of Germantown, Md.
One of the regional Veteran Shark Tank regional judges, and mentor, is Jerry Flanagan, founder of JDog Brands. He was a past competitor in the 2nd annual Veterans Shark Tank and local Philadelphia regional entrepreneur.