Shark Tank episode aired May 11, 2017

The last episode of Season 8 featured two guys in space suits who used a microwave oven to erase handwritten graphics in a notebook, a married couple who brought a nude male model into the Tank with them, and a lady who pulled up her dress and sat on a toilet. It was hysterical! This episode provided some great TV.

But the winner of the Sharky Award for entrepreneurial excellence was Heather from Bridal Buddy. She got a relatively small deal for her “bridal slip” that allows brides to “take a pee”without assistance from a bridesmaid. It may have been a small deal, but Heather embodies many of the qualities of successful entrepreneurs.

Sharky Award

Sharky-Bridal Buddy

Heather had the idea for the Bridal Buddy over a decade ago but then “life got in the way” and she had to put in on the shelf while she had two kids, went through a divorce, and moved to a different place. She had dealt with some negative people and has learned that to succeed, you need to surround yourself with positive, encouraging people.

Her product was ingenious, but her friend Marissa (her “model”/ salesperson who demonstrated how the Bridal Buddy works) was even more impressive. She told the Sharks that Heather was an amazing person who has overcome many significant obstacles. She was instrumental in getting Heather a deal with Shark Lori and Mr. Wonderful ($75K for 30%).

Shark Lori Greiner told the story of how she has used people’s negativity to motivate her to succeed. “It created a fire inside of me to prove them wrong”, she said. Lori’s other great quote was, “Look back to learn. Look forward to succeed”.

I too felt the same negativity during my entrepreneurial journey. Some people weren’t supportive and took “a wait and see attitude”. But my main source of motivation came from my father, who was full of negativity and seemed to want me to fail. That lit a fire inside of me that burned for over 25 years as our company grew from 1 employee to 40 employees. I refused to let him see me fail. Alas, I lost that fire after he passed away and we then sold our internet software company a year later. I guess I should have thanked him.

Best of the Rest………Harriet and Patrick from Wine & Design have successfully franchised  their concept of combining art classes with drinking wine. They brought out a nude male model to simulate a bachelorette party with the Sharks. Harriet and Patrick knew their numbers, and have built a successful company that has sold 74 franchises. They receive a royalty of 6% on all sales. They got a deal with Mr. Wonderful (the “wine guru”) that included some equity and a Line of Credit.

I swear I thought Jake and Joe from Rocket Book were very entertaining con men. Their product was a system that included the ability to create and file an electronic document (which can be done by any of today’s smart phones) and then erased by putting a special $27 spiral notebook and a cup of water in a microwave oven. This is perhaps the worst value proposition in the history of computing. I thought the only potential customer for this product would be a magician. Very entertaining, but no deal.

Adam and Derek from Laid Brand have created a hair care product containing pheromones which make hair smell good. They had done a three-month test and sold $27K worth followed by none thereafter. It wasn’t clear why they stopped, but zero sales is a real turn-off to any potential investor. There’s way too much competition in this market to back a company with no sales.

                     OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE………………..B  

                          (A for entertainment value and C for content) 

 

 

 

 

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Shark Tank episode aired May 5, 2017

The runaway winner of this week’s Sharky Award for entrepreneurial excellence is Billy and Randy from Thompson Tee. They make undershirts that block perspiration. As one of the Sharks put it, they make “armpit diapers”. The product is patented.

Sharky Award

Sharky-Thompson Tee

Approximately 35% of the adult population suffer from hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating. That’s a large addressable market and Billy and Randy are making a dent in that market…..they have shown steady growth over the last few years and currently have sales of over $2 million. Investors love to see steady predictable growth.

These two made a great team…..one has suffered from hyperhidrosis and the other had lots of experience in the clothing industry. They had asked for $700K to bring manufacturing in-house to save a couple of bucks per tee-shirt. The Sharks questioned their strategy and urged them to continue to focus on sales and marketing rather than deal with the management challenges of manufacturing and distribution. But Shark Robert remained very interested in the two of them and said he would help them grow but wouldn’t dictate strategy. Robert offered $700K for 25% and they gladly accepted his offer.

The Best of the Rest……..Tyler from People Design has developed a unique multi-use “scooping bowl”  that costs $5.80 to make and sells for $24.95. Even though he had very limited sales history, this is a made-to-order deal for Shark Lori who scooped it up and will invest $75K for 33.33% equity. This product will do very well on QVC.

Kim, Emily, and Keith from Rumi Spice are marketing premium saffron from Afghanistan. These three served in the U.S. military  in Afghanistan and Kim and Emily had an MBA from Harvard….indeed a very impressive group. They did, however, show a bit of arrogance and were rattled by Mr. Wonderful when they didn’t know “the net profit numbers”. Mark Cuban wasn’t put off and he offered $250K for 15% equity. The group happily accepted.

Trevor and Justin from Wallet Buckle had a little too much fun in their presentation. They cracked each other up a few too many times and the Sharks took note (although it was a very amusing presentation). Their belt buckles hold up to 5 cards and they are selling well at various events, but the market size was too small to interest the Sharks.

                             OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE………………..B  

 

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Shark Tank episode aired April 21, 2017

Four solid entrepreneurs were featured in this episode. Each fell just a bit short of winning a Sharky Award, but they each had numerous strengths. Their businesses have potential, but it’s a little early to predict any of them will be a runaway success.

Shannon and Regan from Goverre have created “an adult sippy cup” for wine. Their Year-to-Date sales are $384K and their margins are about 75%…quite good. Mr. Wonderful, being the self-proclaimed wine guru, was very interested in doing a deal with Shannon and Regan but Sharks Lori, Robert, and Mark aced Mr. W by offering the same deal and promoting the fact that Shannon and Regan would get three Sharks instead of one for the same price…….$200K for 33.33% equity.

Next up was Dr. Rob from See Rescue Streamer. He has invented a rescue alert system that is lightweight (13 ounces) and can be used by boaters, hikers, campers, military personnel, etc.  It requires no external power source. It has already saved the lives of four people. The problem here was that selling to the military is a lengthy and expensive process and  the consumer markets aren’t big enough to get the Sharks interested. The Sharks passed on this opportunity.

Amanda and Steve from BootyQueen Apparel gave a great presentation and came close to winning a Sharky Award. Amanda is internationally known for her glutes and her booty. They have leveraged Amanda’s attributes by capturing over 1 million followers on social media. In the funniest line of the episode, Steve unwittingly said he “did a lot of the back-end stuff” in the business.  They’ve sold over $355K in 18 months of their booty-enhancing leggings. They got a deal from Daymond for $250K for 33.33% equity. I think this has potential, if it proves not to be a short-term fad.

Adam and Don from LocTote Industrial Bag Company have developed a bag that can replace a backpack and cannot be cut by a knife. Apparently, bag slashing is a big problem outside the U.S. They had previously raised over $800K on Kickstarter followed by $500K on Indiegogo to launch their business. Don is fighting cancer while growing the business and his passion and strength generated interest from Mr. Wonderful. The two had a lengthy negotiation where Mr. W. offered a “take it or leave it” $150K for 10% equity and a royalty of $10 a bag until he was paid $450K. Don countered with the same deal except paying a maximum of $150K instead of $450K. Mr. W was about to decline the counter-offer when Shark Robert jumped in and said “I’ll take that deal”. Don accepted and Mr. W. got aced again.

                      OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE…………………….B

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Shark Tank episode aired April 14, 2017

Tonight’s Sharky Award goes to Brian and Kyle from Guardian Bikes. They have developed an improved braking system for bicycles that will dramatically reduce the number of injuries by preventing the rider from being thrown over the handlebars when braking. This Surestop Technology can be licensed to bicycle manufacturers and costs them an additional four dollars per bike……..a very small price to pay for increased safety and  product differentiation.

Sharky Award

Sharky-Guardian Bikes

The challenge is selling the concept to the large bike manufacturers. This has proven to be a difficult, time-consuming task for Brian and Kyle. They decided to manufacture their own line of premium bikes with the Surestop Technology built-in as a way to show the marketplace that there would be a large demand for their technology.

It became obvious during their presentation that despite their engineering brilliance, they need a partner  (or an employee) that can help improve their sales and marketing efforts. Mark Cuban even told them, “Your Marketing sucks!”

Mr. Wonderful wanted the deal if Brian and Kyle agreed not to manufacture bikes and concentrate on licensing their technology. They would not agree.

Mark Cuban made an offer contingent on them getting a PR pro on-board and generating increased sales in the next 6 months. The offer of $500K for 15% equity was accepted. I think this could become a really, really big deal at some point.

Best of the Rest……..Somehow Nick and Joe from Guard Llama got a deal with Shark Barbara despite the fact that the two technology guru’s (Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca) panned their product and their technology. Mark said, “I like everything about your company except your product…..it’s horrible”. Even the llama pooped on stage! You might say this presentation was truly a shit show.

But Shark Barbara liked Nick and Joe and saw their security product (something like Life Alert as seen on TV) as being useful in the real estate industry. With her deep domain expertise and industry contacts this may work. Sometime targeting a particular industry (vertical market) can help a weak product succeed by tailoring your sales efforts and messaging specifically to that industry. That said, please lose the llama!

Samuel and Savannah from Flag sell advertising space on the back of photographs. Their pitch was terrible. They neglected to mention that they had already raised $1.6 million and they didn’t define their business model (“freemium”) until the very end of the pitch. The Sharks didn’t like the concept. It ended up sounding like an old-school print advertising agency.  No deal here.

(BTW, freemium is a pricing strategy by which a product or service (typically a digital offering or application such as software, media, games or web services) is provided free of charge, but money (premium) is charged for proprietary features, functionality, or virtual goods.)

Ian, Alex, and Tov from Validated have two test markets……one in Seattle and one in Portland. Their service helps retailers get more traffic by giving customers points that can be used to reduce the cost of downtown parking. The pitch and the product were confusing and complex. The product is based on QR Codes which Chris Sacca described as “the herpes of digital technology”.

 OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE…………C

 

 

 

 

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Shark Tank episode aired April 7, 2017

After taking a break for March Madness, Shark Tank returned with a strong new episode featuring four high quality entrepreneurs.

The winner of this week’s Sharky Award for entrepreneurial excellence is Rick from Under the Weather. Rick has invented a small, portable “tent” that protects spectators at outdoor events from the wind, rain, snow, and sun. He had Sharks Daymond and Lori participate in a great demo to show how it works. It was fun and showed the benefit of using his product.

Sharky Award

Sharky-Under the Weather

Rick defined the potential marketplace with one simple statistic…..there are 70 million soccer parents in the U.S. alone! If you’ve ever been to a kids soccer game in November you can appreciate the value of this product. Naturally there are many other potential uses. I couldn’t help but picture a spectator at the (British) Open sitting in one.

Rick sold his first business in 2012 and used the proceeds to launch Under the Weather. Investors love to invest in serial entrepreneurs as it reduces their risk. Rick sells each “tent” for $99 and had sales of $2 million last year, mostly from online sales.

He ended up making a deal with Mark Cuban for $600K for 15% equity. Part of Mark’s deal was an option to buy an additional $600K of equity within the next 12 months. If the business grows like I think it will, the option will surely be exercised.

Best of the Rest……..Cam from SeedSheet  has developed a way to quickly plant seeds that are “built into” sheets. He is targeting millennials and new gardeners as potential customers. He had Mark Cuban participate in a hokey demo that broke a “world record” for planting 7000 seeds (14.15 seconds).

Cam’s product is perfect for the gardening segments on QVC, so Lori was extremely interested. They did a deal at $500K for 20% equity. I thought the company valuation of $2.5 million was a bit rich considering he had sold only $156K of product. But with Lori’s help, future hyper growth may justify the valuation. Good deal, Cam.

When Brandon from Apollo Peak started pitching his product……wine for cats, I thought it was a joke. But the deeper he got into the presentation, the more interest he generated. He had sold $192K of his non-alcoholic wine (catnip only!) in just three months. I kept wondering if this is something people buy for laughs (Pinot Meow!) and leave it on the shelf, or if cats really drink this stuff. Will there be any re-orders? Too soon to tell.

The company received multiple offers and  Mr. Wonderful ended up making a deal for $100K for 20%

Mylen from Cropsticks was a college professor who taught entrepreneurship. She left her job to go out and start her own company. She developed Cropsticks to be an improvement over the chopsticks used in restaurants today. They are made of bamboo (more sustainable) and had a built-in rest.

I believe it’s not wise to create a product that has to compete with an entrenched, high-volume, inexpensive commodity while selling at a premium price. Mylen’s plan is to charge a premium price because of the product improvements and sustainability angle, but restaurants aren’t likely to bite. I don’t think they will be willing to pay more for these enhancements. Ultimately, Cropsticks will need to improve the customer experience.

OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE…………….A 

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Shark Tank episode aired March 24, 2017

With March Madness in full swing, the producers re-broadcast the episode originally aired on November 18, 2016.

To read my original analysis of this episode, click Shark Tank episode aired November 18, 2016 (This episode had a rating of C-).

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Shark Tank episode aired March 10, 2017

The episode originally aired on November 11, 2016 was re-broadcast on March 10, 2017.

Click  Shark Tank episode aired November 11, 2016 to read my analysis. (It was rated A+).

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