Shark Tank episode aired December 12, 2014

This year’s Christmas special was inspirational and hilarious! Although there were three strong entrepreneurs on this episode, none are sure-fire successes and they are all very early in their company’s life cycle. On that basis, no Sharky’s will be awarded.

I must admit, Mr. Wonderful had a good night… deals but he provided some great comic relief. Shark Barbara came roaring off the bench and made three deals!

Speaking of benches, first up was Neal from Mensch on a Bench. Neil told the Sharks that it’s tough growing up as a Jewish kid during Christmas time. He wanted to create a product that was inspirational and would be a great gift for Jewish boys and girls.

Neal gained respect from the Sharks when he told them he was an employee at Hasbro (with toy expertise) and he had sold $930K of his product on a part-time basis independent from Hasbro.

Barbara ended up making a deal under the condition that she could rewrite his booklet and he could make the Mensch look happier. Mr. Wonderful quipped, “By the time Barbara rewrites the book, he’ll be Catholic”. Very funny stuff!

Next up was Nathan from Eve Drop. Nathan didn’t get a deal for his Christmas light business. He only had $4,500 in sales thru KickStarter and the chemistry between he and the Sharks was not good. He prided himself as a great salesman, but the Sharks didn’t agree.

Andrea and Hong from Q-Flex had created an acupressure device. Andrea is only 13 years old and Hong is her Mom. The product was developed as a way to massage Mom’s back when she got home from long hours as a nurse at a local hospital.

These two were very inspirational. If Andrea is any indication, the future of America looks bright!  When Mark Cuban heard that she sold 800 massagers by going door-to-door, he quickly teamed up with Barbara to make an offer.

Mark LOVES any entrepreneur who starts off selling a product door-to-door. Why? It demonstrates hustle, resourcefulness, guts, and sales skills. It’s also the way Mark started his entrepreneurial career.

Trina from Hoppy Paws had just started her business 90 days ago. She had invested $105K in her business and had created eight different camping kits for kids. Trina is a single mom who had a difficult childhood and clearly has a chip on her shoulder. That “chip” can be used as a positive force. It can provide tremendous focus and energy to prove someone wrong. Trina struck me as the type of person who will continue to use this feeling as a motivating force. For Trina, I suspect, failure is not an option.

Barbara made her third deal of the night by investing $100K for 49% of the business. Recognizing that Trina is a high-octane person (the Sharks nicknamed her “The Beast”), Barbara also insisted on a guarantee to have a 50% interest of any future products Trina might develop. This should be an interesting partnership. She and Barbara have many similarities and common experiences. Sometimes having two similar people as partners doesn’t work as planned. I think we’ll know within a few months if this one works.

Mr. Wonderful got off another great one-liner when he said that he was strongly considering making Trina (who was wearing reindeer antlers throughout her presentation) an offer because he thought it was time for him to have “a woman with horns in his portfolio”.

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Shark Tank episode aired December 5, 2014



Last night’s Shark Tank episode featured the largest investment in the history of Shark Tank. Mr. Wonderful (aka Kevin O’Leary) invested $2.5 million for 10% of Zipz, a company that makes and sells “wine by the glass”.

I was fascinated by this deal! As you may recall, James Martin from Copa Di Vino had appeared on Shark Tank twice and didn’t get a deal from the Sharks.  James’ company made a very similar “wine by the glass” product. As far as I could tell, the main difference between their products was Zipz glass was made of glass and Copa’s was plastic. The products were similarly priced (about $3.00 per glass).  They both had patent protection on their products. I’m assuming the wines are of similar quality even though Copa is from Oregon and Zipz is from California.

That’s where the similarities end. Copa was only given a valuation of $2.5 million by the Sharks and  Zipz  was given a valuation of $25 million.  This despite a huge difference in their annual sales which is usually the most important determinant of overall valuation.  Copa’s sales were about $12 million per year and Zipz were less than a million!

So how can two similar companies have such radically different investment outcomes? How can the company with (at least) 12 times the sales be given a valuation that is 90% lower than Zipz?

Here are my thoughts.

Wine by the glass strategy….When James Martin appeared on Shark Tank, he did not want to license his packaging to other wineries (at the time, Mr. Wonderful thought licensing was the winning strategy). When James returned to the tank for the second time, he showed how successful he had been following his own strategy of using the packaging to sell his own wine by the glass. The Sharks thought he was being arrogant. Mr. Wonderful does not like being proven wrong….especially on subjects having to do with wine.

Timing is Everything….For the last two years Mr. W has been trying to convince Costco to sell his wine. Apparently he is now close to hitting “the mother load” and he is viewing Zipz as his ticket. He said if they can get the price to Costco down to $1.06 per glass, they can get their business. Of course this is essentially the same “wine by the glass strategy” used by James Martin!

Back at you, James…Even though Shark Robert Herjavec suggested the licensing strategy for Zipz last night,  Mr. Wonderful ignored the idea. I think Mr. W wanted to beat James Martin at his own game! I think we were seeing a little bit of a revenge factor here.

The likeability factor……The Sharks clearly never liked James Martin. He held all the cards and could control his own destiny. I didn’t think he was arrogant….I thought he was right! Even last night during the Zipz pitch, Mr. Wonderful took a shot at James by saying to the Zipz  presenter something like, “You’re cool…..not like the last guy who was here sweating profusely”.

The Zipz Presentation……Andrew gave the presentation for Zipz. Interestingly, the CEO was not with him. Andrew owns a bar at CitiField in New York and is a consultant to Zipz. Where was the CEO? Something didn’t feel right. None-the-less, the Sharks liked Andrew and people tend to invest in people they like.

Cashe Factor….. On the other hand, the company had already raised $8.5 million from some well-heeled Wall Street investors and they had put together a partnership with Fetzer, a well-known winery based in California. Investors love to know that other big-time players are involved. This increases their valuation and can help lead to an acquisition down the road.

Improving Investment Climate….With the stock market rising, most company valuations are on the rise. It’s been a couple of years since James Martin’s original appearance on the show, and the market has gone up about 25% since then.

First-to-Market doesn’t always win…… Being the second company in a given market segment gives credibility to the segment and reduces risk. Sometimes being the first in means you’re a pioneer. It is often said that a pioneer is the one with arrows sticking out of their back.

The Future…… James Martin from Copa Di Vino has more control, focus, and expertise than Zipz. This has helped build a growing and profitable business.  Zipz has more money and more connections, but that doesn’t mean they will necessarily win the race. If Zipz is successful getting into Costco, and can then license their technology to other wineries around the world, they will become the 800 pound gorilla in this space.


My apologies to the other Shark Tank entrepreneurs from last night. Stephen from  Biaggi had very useful foldable luggage and got a nice deal from Shark Lori. Lydia from S.W.A.G. Essentials did a nice job, but was just too early to get an investment.  Shawwna and Kurt from GameDay Couture got a deal from Mark Cuban who wanted to improve the quality of Mavs clothing for women. Congrats!

P.S. In the update segment, Sharky Award winner Scrub Daddy is approaching $30 million in sales. Wow! Good job Lori!!!!



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Shark Tank episode aired November 21, 2014

There were three mini-deals made on this episode of Shark Tank….each company had a valuation of $500K or less. The investments ranged from $100K to $160K.

It’s difficult to pick a Sharky Award winner from this group. Although each had a nice business, none of them were far enough along to show that they will become successful over the long-term.

In terms of their presentations, they were all excellent! Even Cameron from Off the Cob (who didn’t get an investment from the Sharks) did a great job, and he stands as good a chance as any of them to succeed.

The Sharks invest in a business for many reasons. Obviously, one is to make money with as little risk as possible! In the case of the Sharks, one of the other important considerations is to invest in companies where they “don’t have to do a lot of work”. This means the entrepreneur has not only created the product, but has sourced it for manufacturing,  has made initial sales, has a distribution strategy, etc.

A quick rundown of this episode’s entrepreneurs……..

Ryan and David from Kitchen Safe has created time-lock containers that help people resist eating goodies and help them lose weight.  Mr. Wonderful actually made Ryan cry by criticizing his product. Despite that issue (crying is never a good strategy), and considering their product cost too much to make, it was a miracle they got a $100K investment from Lori and Nick (the CEO of GoPro).

Sharon from Magic Cook has created a self-heating food container system that is amazing! Her target market is campers and survivalists.   Daymond  invested $100K for 33% equity. (Mr. Wonderful added, “Camping Sucks”….what a surprise).

Tom from Earthlog makes fire logs out of recycled materials. He got a $160K investment from Lori who plans on getting Tom on QVC ASAP.  Tom’s differentiator is his logs generate more heat with less smoke than the competition.

Cameron from Off the Cob didn’t get a deal for his sweet corn tortilla chip enterprise. He only had sales of $45,000. The Sharks didn’t invest because he was “too early” to seek 3rd party funding. In other words, the Sharks would have to do too much work to help him get to the next level.

Update: TipsyElves, a Sharky Award winner from 2013, will have sales next year of $8 million selling their ugly Christmas sweaters (their sales were less than $900K when they appeared on Shark Tank). One of their keys to success was diversifying into sweaters for other holidays such as the 4th of July. This has helped smooth their production and has significantly increased their sales.



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Shark Tank episode aired November 14, 2014

Tonite was the 100th episode of Shark Tank. After the show, the Sharks toasted their success and the success of the show. Although it is very difficult for entrepreneurs to get on the show (some 30,000 applied this year), it is a great platform for learning what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.

I loved Shark Daymond John’s quote during the after-party……”Being an entrepreneur is the ultimate equalizer”. It provides an opportunity for everyone to become wealthy and have a fulfilling professional and personal life.

On tonight’s episode, three of the four entrepreneur/contestants received funding from the Sharks. One of them stood out and won this week’s Sharky Award winner for entrepreneurial excellence………

Shark Tank

Sharky Award
November 14, 2014

Jen and Jeff from Pipcorn…….This brother/sister team from Brooklyn, NY have created a healthy, gluten-free alternative to popcorn. The Sharks loved the taste of their mini-popcorn and loved Jen and Jeff.  Barbara, who typically invests based on her gut feel about an entrepreneur, was so excited about this duo that she agreed to invest $200K at a $2 million valuation. This was an extremely rich offer considering their forecasted sales for the next 12 months was $440K. The offer represented a valuation of 4.55 times annual sales……a significant premium.

Best of the Rest…….Bobby and Judy from Squatty Potty ended up getting an investment from Lori Greiner. I never knew two-thirds of the world squats when they poop. Apparently people in the U.S. are missing out on a great thing. Bobby and his mom Judy have created a toilet that is configured in such a way that it forces you to squat. Bobby said that this is better for you and “People shouldn’t be sitting when they poop”.  A large part of their success was attributable to Dr. Oz (an on-air recommendation) and Howard Stern (paid advertising).

Shark Barbara said something that resonated with me. She said there was something about Bobby that made her feel uncomfortable. She didn’t trust him, and I felt the same way……. just a gut feel. I wish Lori luck with this one.

Heidi from Heidi Ho has created a cheese-like product with no dairy ingredients. The Sharks loved the taste of this plant-based product. Heidi got an investment from Lori of $125K for 30% equity.

Shark Chum……..John from Storm Stoppers, The Plywood Alternative, had  developed a great product that helps people protect their homes for storms, but he lacked the sales skills necessary to make his start-up successful. He also had a huge decline in sales (about 80%) from last year. Investors hate investing in companies with decreasing sales. Having a great product simply isn’t enough.



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Shark Tank episode aired November 7, 2014

In this episode, the  Sharks paid tribute to the men and women of the United States armed forces. As part of Veterans Small Business Week, the tank welcomed vets who have recently served in Middle East and and returned home to start new businesses.

The Sharks were impressed with each of the vets. It was obvious that the lessons learned in the military were being carried over to their lives as civilians and entrepreneurs. Each of these vets/entrepreneurs deserve credit for their accomplishments and service.

I will therefore alter my usual Sharky rating system for this episode. Here are the Sharky Awards for entrepreneurial excellence……

The 4 Star Sharky Award winner is Ashley from The Natural Grip. 

Wow, you talk about high energy and passion! Ashley had invented customizable hand grips that are worn while exercising. Competitive grips and gloves are bulky and can’t be customized.

Ashley had a great sense of humor. When she handed a sample of her product to Mr. Wonderful, she said, “Yours is the color of your soul……black”. Good zinger!

Ashley had sold $178K of her product in Year 1 and was forecasting $400K in Year 2, and $1 million in Year 3.  I liked her forecast… showed dramatic growth but it sounded achievable. This is what investors are looking for.

Robert Herjavec , the self-proclaimed “Sporty Shark”, did a deal with Ashley for $125K for 25% equity. Robert was also passionate about this product and will be a great partner for Ashley.

The 3 Star Sharky Award winner is Eli and Jen with Bottle Breacher.

Although I wasn’t crazy about their product name (what’s a breacher? Military people may know, but not too many civilians know what this term means), these two made a good team and had created a nice business. Eli was a Navy Seal. He and Jen modified large caliber bullets to become bottle openers (breachers). Pretty unique I’d say.

They had sold over $500K of their product so far this year….all online. Most of the breachers were engraved. This created an upsell opportunity (that’s the good news). But the bad news is more engravers would be needed to scale the business.

Mr. Wonderful and Mark Cuban teamed up on this one and got a deal done for $150K for 20% equity.

The 2 Star Sharky Award winner is Aaron from Man-Pack

Aaron had created a backpack/carry bag and was expecting to sell $145K this year….his second year in business.

I like Aaron. He started his business with just $5,000. and was very passionate about his product. Wouldn’t it be great if all returning vets could do what Aaron did?

Aaron did not do a good job, however, in his company valuation. When the Sharks found out he placed a value on the youtube videos he had created and then tacked on an additional $200K of “goodwill”, the Sharks lost interest. Goodwill is something large companies carry on their balance sheets after an acquisition, but is not appropriate for a small company like Man-Pack.

1 Star Sharky Award winner is Wade and Lori from Priority One Canine

Despite giving a really cool demonstration of how their attack dogs can protect you, Wade and Lori did not get an investment from the Sharks. Their service was simply not investable. Why? The business is not easily scaled into something really big.

The Sharks look for unlimited scalability, and this wasn’t it. That said, Wade and Lori can make a really nice living doing something they know and love.





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Shark Tank episode aired October 31, 2014

This was an extremely entertaining episode! The Sharks did a couple of deals but I am not awarding any Sharky Awards for entrepreneurial excellence. Here’s why….

Patrick from TITIN got a deal from Shark Daymond John, but I have a funny feeling this deal will never be consummated once it goes thru the due diligence process. Patrick’s company makes weighted body apparel that is used to increase athletic performance. His company had sales of $600K last year. Patrick said he would do $10 million next year….”easily”.

Mark Cuban said his “BS Meter was going thru the roof”. Mr. Wonderful said he thought Patrick was in the “arrogant ass category”. I thought Patrick had a “far away look in his eyes”. I just had a bad feeling about this deal.

In fairness to Patrick, he had previously been burned by an investor and was being very cautious.   But I think all the Sharks had difficulty warming up to him.

Eric from Beardbrand made grooming products for men with beards. He was an intriguing and memorable character (he had a great bushy beard). He had sales of $800K but valued his company at $2.6 million which was WAY too high. Mr. Wonderful thought his business was worth about $600K.

Eric didn’t get a deal. I would recommend he ditch the kit and just sell his popular beard oil online. This would generate about $600K in sales at  90% margins. Eric would make a very nice living that way.

Eric and John from Singtrix valued their business at $30 million! This got the Sharks attention and they were all ears. These two were instrumental in developing the best-selling Guitar Hero game from Activision (pun intended).

They gave an extremely entertaining demonstration of their voice enhancement system that has 150 different effects. They sell the unit for $345 and expect to sell 30,000 of them next year.

They received three offers but they were miles from their original valuation. The best offer they received was from Robert Herjavec at a valuation of $7.5 million.

Talia from Myself Belts has had declining sales of kids belts for the last three years. She blamed the poor economy but Shark Lori Greiner told her that a good product thrives in any economy.

Talia was not a great listener and talked a little too much for all the Sharks except for Daymond. Despite her shortcomings, he made her an offer of $75K for 25% equity. She actually tried to counter his offer but ended up accepting Daymond’s original offer.  She was very fortunate.

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Shark Tank episode aired October 24, 2014

Fun episode tonite. The Sharky Award for entrepreneurial excellence goes to a company that sells fun……

Shark Tank

Beatbox Beverages
Shark Tank
October 24, 2014

Justin, Brad, and Aimey from Beatbox Beverages were on fire! They exuded energy and fun. Their product was similar to boxed wine but could best be described as “spirits in a box”. The box looked like a beatbox and the spirits came in a variety of flavors. They had sales of $235K in a little over a year.

All of the Sharks were interested in investing, but Mark Cuban gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse……$1 million for 33% of the business. This exceeded their original valuation and left the other Sharks gasping.  I think Mark could rationalize a big offer based on the fact that he can sell the product at Mav’s games in Dallas and even in his movie theaters. Beatbox Beverages is also a Texas-based company which makes them conveniently located (to Mark) with has no state income tax.

Best of the Rest……Josh and Sara from Honeyfund run a website in the “crowd-gifting” category which allows people to give cash gifts to a bride and groom that can be used for their honeymoon. They have helped newly married couples “raise” over $67 million in the past year! Their company got to keep $987K of this amount thru a deal with PayPal.

They received three offers from the Sharks and ended up taking a deal with Mr. Wonderful that required them to pay hefty royalties. They will get $400K for zero equity but have to pay one-third of their profits to Shark Kevin until they have paid him $1.2 million. I would have loved to know what their thinking was and why they took this deal. I would have taken Robert Herjavec’s offer of $400K for 30% equity….he can help them grow the business and would be a better strategic fit…..and they could preserve cash during their planned hyper-growth phase.

Phil and Jason from EmergenSee had developed a mobile phone app that helps people maintain personal security when they’re on the go. They have a nice product and I love their name…..very clever. Unfortunately, neither of them had a technology background and they had to spend over $2 million to develop the product (so far). The Sharks were afraid this lack of technical expertise would prevent them from dealing with the fast changing world of technology in the future. No deal here.

Curt from Oilerie USA had franchised his olive oil business to seven locations in small markets. Although he had generated over $3 million in revenue last year, the Sharks questioned his ability to scale the business and move into larger markets. Curt admitted he had felt the stress of running a self-funded business. He will be happier and healthier staying in smaller markets and getting someone to help him run the business. Curt is a good guy and I wish him and his wife well.

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