The four businesses featured in this episode had two things in common…..very bright entrepreneurs and each of their products appeals primarily to millennials. And so I’m probably not a great person to evaluate their products, but I do have some thoughts on their presentations and business models.
Joe from Gunnar Optiks said after his pitch that he was nervous, but you never would have known it. He appeared cool and calm throughout, and did an excellent job presenting the benefits of his eyewear for people who stare at computer screens for extended periods of time. Joe had a career at Oakley before starting the company, so he had great knowledge of the industry.
Joe had a couple of things working against him, however. His sales had been flat at approximately $7 million for each of the past three years. Investors are looking for growth and not steady sales. Second, Joe had raised $9 million prior to his appearance on Shark Tank and owned just 20% of the company. His debt level was a little over $1 million.
So the Sharks sized this up as a cash sucking company that hasn’t been able to grow and quickly bowed out……except for Shark Lori. She had previous experience with a similar company and helped them sell $30 million of their product. Lori saw potential to do the same thing with Joe and ended up investing $750K for 5% equity. Never bet against Lori!
Alessandro from Avocaderia came to the U.S. from Italy and had recently opened a restaurant in Brooklyn that featured affordable Mediterranean food that emphasized avocados. His plan was to open 20 restaurants in the NYC area and then expand to Texas and California. Eventually, he would sell franchises. Alessandro was a very likeable guy who seemed to have a good handle on his business and business plan.
He ended up getting a deal with Shark Barbara (who had invested in the mega-successful Tom+Chee restaurants). and Mark Cuban, who each put in $200K for a 10% share.
The weirdest, high-risk deal of the night followed when Mark Cuban invested $500K for 4% (plus a board seat) in a company called Solsource started by Dr. Catlin Powers. She is a scientist who invented a solar-powered grill that she developed and was delivered by Yak to the people of Himalaya (who had no money) while she was on a trip to Himalaya . Wait, What?
I said it was weird. Four of the Sharks said it just didn’t add up. It became a little clearer when the Sharks discussed using her solar-powered technology to generate power for other applications. Mark asked her if she could help put Elon Musk (Tesla) out of business. Dr. Catlin said yes, and that’s all Mark needed to hear. He quickly made the deal. This will either be the biggest, best deal in Shark Tank history or will go up in flames (pardon the pun) in short order.
Jordan, Jake, and Jimmy from Sunniva Super Coffee had created a “healthy coffee” and have targeted millennials as potential customers. One of the biggest hurdles they had to overcome is that all of the Sharks HATED the taste of their coffee. When Shark Robert asked why they thought he hated it, they responded, “that’s because you’re not a millennial!”
These three brothers believed in their product and may just “will it to happen” (and become wildly successful) despite not getting a deal from these five “old farts”.
OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE………………………….A