Original Shark Kevin Harrington and Cypress Ascendant CEO Bill Trzos: A Purpose-Driven Partnership


PUBLISHED: April 4, 2024
kevin harrington presenting in front of the camera for shark tank

Capital is a requirement for all businesses, but it can come with strings attached. In many cases, founders and their teams that have received millions from investment firms crumble under the pressure of investors’ expectations. This is true for companies backed by venture capital or private equity, even when they are well-established. Employees and founders can become disgruntled at the way the company has to shift when an outsider gets involved with its operations.

On the other hand, investors can be a boon to businesses when their firms carefully evaluate and invest in companies that can benefit from their unique expertise. For a business relationship to flourish, both sides should be mutually invested in the same goals—something seasoned investors, portfolio managers and entrepreneurs are acutely aware of.

Kevin Harrington, the inventor of the infomercial and one of the original Sharks on Shark Tank, and Bill Trzos, CEO and managing partner of boutique investment firm Cypress Ascendant Holdings LLC, both believe in this investment approach. Their decades of experience in building businesses, raising capital and providing value to clients have taught them the importance of putting people first and developing strong business relationships based on a shared purpose.

Trzos, who has over 25 years of experience as an operator in the financial services and insurance-related verticals, draws on his knowledge and experience to guide Cypress Ascendant to invest in and operate a select number of companies across the consumer products, financial services, hospitality and entertainment and real estate industries. The CEO says his company’s portfolio isn’t built like other private equity competitors because the firm leverages a flexible foundation and the expertise of its general partners to deliver value to clients.

According to Trzos, he and his other managing partners, Ken Manqueros and Matt Fuller, are heavily involved in their work—both financially and emotionally—taking a relationship-centered approach to raising capital and creating resilient businesses. He adds that the team takes great pride in this philosophy, even involving their own money in every deal they do to ensure alignment with their partners’ goals.

Because they both believe in investing in people, Harrington and Trzos were drawn to each other. Harrington, who has amassed a wide network of connections over the span of his long career, maintains that people are the real ingredient of a profitable company. This mindset has been his guiding light through decades of building and scaling businesses from all stages, mentoring entrepreneurs and serving as a strategic board member across several verticals. Harrington claims his career is involved with over $6 billion in worldwide sales and the launch of more than 20 businesses that reached $100 million or more in revenue.

Connecting through their philosophy, the pair are on a mission to do purpose-driven business—made possible through their shared values. Both Harrington and Trzos believe that their hard work, transparency and honesty have enabled them to partner with and invest in profitable businesses.

Regarding his partnership with Trzos, Harrington felt it was a no-brainer. “We both have a long history in business, and we understand the key principles to success,” Harrington says. “Once you’ve been in the game for a while, you begin to learn that it’s all about people, perspective and priorities.”

For Trzos, joining forces with Harrington aligns well with Cypress Ascendant’s approach of providing “value to an interactive portfolio of companies that our team has fruitful relationships with.” According to the CEO, Harrington is a personable and trustworthy figure who mirrors him in his conviction to be a “high performer who still cares about the people involved in business.”

The two have many things planned for their future working relationship. One of the companies in Trzos’s portfolio is functional energy drink brand Sunshine Beverages. Harrington is providing his insights for this company and other consumer products in Cypress Ascendant’s portfolio. Trzos is equally interested in seeing the magic of Harrington’s “dream team” in action, which involves Harrington, his son Brian and video marketer and investor Brandon T. Adams. Both Harrington and Trzos welcome any emerging business opportunities that align with their goals and connect with their existing presence across multiple industries.

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