"Shark Tank" investor Daymond John told CNBC Tuesday that his new efforts with Lowe's to help diverse entrepreneurs can have broad appeal – and make a big impact.
"Hopefully you can get a million applicants. I want people to stand up for it," he said on Squawk on the Street. "When you talk about diversity … you are not only talking about people of color, you are also talking about women. You are talking about LGBTQ, you are talking about veterans, so this could be a lot of people."
The initiative is called "Making it … With Lowe & # 39; s" and gives small, minority businesses the opportunity to get their products on the shelves and website of the hardware store. The application window starts on Tuesday and is open until September 25th.
According to a press release from Lowe, applicants will eventually be narrowed down to five finalists. John will mentor her directly to Lowe's CEO Marvin Ellison and other executives and prepare her for her pitch.
John, who is also CEO of clothing brand FUBU, said the ability to bring a product to Lowe's removes a major hurdle for many aspiring entrepreneurs: distribution.
"Often that's the most important part. After you know you have a product, you know you can sell it. Now how do you get it to the masses?" he said. "They wanted to give people this vehicle without taking a percentage of their business."
In an interview earlier Tuesday on Squawk on the Street, Ellison said Lowe's idea for the initiative came from the demand for small business grants that launched in May in response to the economic challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. He said the $ 55 million program, which was aimed at minority-owned businesses as well as businesses in rural communities, had received over 800,000 applications.
"Demand from this program has led us to understand that there is much more we should do," said Ellison, who has spoken out about the need for American companies to step up their diversity efforts.
Lowe's intends to select finalists by the end of this year, with the outcome of the challenge being announced early next year, according to the press release.
John said for him this was different from his role on "Shark Tank" as he did not offer his own capital to make an investment in exchange for company capital and to help the company grow. Instead, he said he was more likely to approach it as a consumer.
"I don't have to think about the personal way I'm going to run it, how I'm going to generate income from it," he said. "All I can do now is to take care of it, solve this problem? Does this have empathy for a customer? Is it making it easier, faster, or stronger, or saving time for someone? … I already know that there is sales. "
– CNBC's Melissa Repko contributed to this story.
Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to Shark Tank, which Daymond is co-hosting with John.