Penn State Alumna Haley McClain Hill Talks Winning Deal On ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’

Haley McClain Hill has made living fearlessly look easy. With her growing company, the upcoming publication of an original book, and a recent success on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” McClain Hill has lived quite a few lives already since graduating in 2016.

A former Penn State cheerleader and ROTC student, McClain Hill took both pursuits to the next level after leaving Dear Old State. As a lieutenant, she was responsible for over $9.8 million assets and led a team of over 300 airmen in a recruiting role within the special duties sector of the Air Force. 

During that time, McClain Hill was also a professional cheerleader for the NFL, cheering for both the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers. This combination of creativity and drive led her to the creation of TORCH Warriorwear, a lifestyle brand crafting military standard, confidence-building bodysuits for military women around the globe.

In 2022, we sat down with McClain Hill to discuss the recent launch of TORCH as a first-of-its-kind company. Since then, the brand has become a movement, recognizable by servicewomen everywhere and most recently seen on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

“I wasn’t like a diehard ‘Shark Tank’ fan until I launched my business in 2021,” McClain Hill said. “Then, I started to enjoy the show because it was really diving into all of the numbers and deals.” 

Originating in Japan as “Tigers of Money” in 2004, the business reality show was picked up by ABC as “Shark Tank” in 2009. After 15 seasons and countless success stories, the show is estimated to have over 6.8 million viewers per episode and has won multiple Emmy awards in its prime reality category. 

“I’ve only been watching the show for probably two or three years,” McClain Hil said. “Then, just to have the opportunity to be on it is really cool.”

Pitching your passion to the sharks is no easy feat. After applying online to appear on the show, McClain Hill started a lengthy process of preparing to appear before the sharks. 

“Once you receive that the producer reached out to you, and you just go back and forth on formulating your pitch…what you’re going to wear, what you’re going to say, what sharks you’re looking to have invest in your company,” McClain Hill said. 

Deep diving into the finances behind the business, McClain Hill had to prepare for any and every question the sharks might ask. 

“It’s just this process of gathering information from your company and knowing that you are going to have to answer everything about it,” McClain Hill said. 

During her pitch, the sharks included Mark Cuban, Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary, Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner, and guest shark Emma Grede. Greiner ultimately ended up offering the Penn State alum a deal.

Known as “the warm-blooded shark,” Greiner has created and marketed over 1,000 products with a 90% success rate. Most well-known for home, cosmetic, and tech solutions, Greiner jumped at the opportunity to support the journey of TORCH.

The Penn State alum negotiated back with Greiner to a final offering of 22.5% of TORCH Warriowear for $150,000.

Before entering the tank, excitement filled the air for McClain Hill. Months of preparation led to a final walk down the long hallway infamous to the show with doors swinging open to reveal the successful entrepreneurs turned TV personalities. 

“You have people coming up to you before the doors open, and they’re like talking to you like, ‘OK, are you ready?  You’re gonna do great,’” McClain Hill said. “They’re fixing my outfit, making sure it’s all good to go, and I’m just kind of breathing and breathing and just kind of trying to keep myself really calm.”

To pitch her company to the sharks, McClain Hill traveled to Los Angeles, California, to film the episode at ABC studios. After arriving at the studio for a 5 a.m. call time, the entrepreneur was the first pitch of the day. 

“And then they’re like, ‘Alright, countdown from 10,’ and then, they count you in and the doors open… I just kind of marched in there,” she said. “The other side of doors open, and they’re all sitting there.” 

Upon entering the tank, McClain Hill presented her fine-tuned pitch, complete with detailed data and background anecdotes to let her personal brand shine. After about 45 minutes in front of some of the world’s biggest success stories, she walked out with a deal.

 “It’s just like a surreal experience,” McClain Hill said. “You’re just like, ‘Now’s the time!’”

While the day brought intensity and challenge, McClain Hill drew upon her lifetime of experience to find success. Emphasizing authenticity and a positive outlook, the veteran turned CEO offered some advice to future entrepreneurs hoping to expand their impact. 

“I’m so used to performing and cheerleading, and people staring at me while I’m doing things, so that’s the best thing that you can do: just look and smile,” McClain Hill said. “And, if you practice so much, the nerves go away… You just keep moving forward.”

“Light The TORCH: An Origin Story By The Creator Of Warriorwear” by Haley McClain Hill is currently available for pre-order through TORCH Warriorwear.

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About the Author

Lizzie Palmieri

Lizzie is a senior majoring in Marketing and Psychology from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Ask her about Disney World, Diet Pepsi, or dancing on the Jumbotron at Beaver Stadium. When not causing general trouble, Lizzie enjoys playing golf, performing in the theatre, and being the CEO of reorganizing the fridge. Her favorite thing to do is hang out with her sassy sidekick, 19-year-old Italian Greyhound, Macaroni. Follow her on Twitter @lizziepalmieri if your deepest desire is bestie vibes only.

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