Shark Tank episode aired September 23, 2016

Excellent Shark Tank Season 8 premiere!  The show featured two food/beverage companies, one footwear company, and one technology company. Also, for the first time ever, the show  included all six Sharks (normally there are five).

Philip and David from Fizzics walked away with this week’s Sharky Award for entrepreneurial excellence.

They also walked away with a $2 million deal with Mark and Lori for 16.7% of their company. Fizzics allows consumers and bars to add flavors to beer. The Sharks all agreed their product greatly enhanced the taste of beer.

Their $12.5 valuation was reasonable at about 1.3X this year’s forecasted sales. These two Jersey boys were in the process of  raising $2 million at a $10 million pre-money valuation. They had a commitment from a lead investor (this is a HUGE factor…..one of the first questions from any serious potential investor is “Do you have a lead investor. If so, who is it?”. Other investors will then come on-board knowing they aren’t the first to take a risk on you).

Shark Barbara then stunned everyone when she said to Philip and David, “I am wildly enthusiastic about your product but I’m not wildly enthusiastic about you. I feel like you’re too slick and have an answer for everything”. Barbara normally has a great gut feel about most entrepreneurs, and she relies heavily on it when deciding whether to invest in an entrepreneur. Barbara’s gut feel shouldn’t be ignored, but it didn’t stop three of the five remaining Sharks from circling.

Fizzics ended up getting $2 million from Mark and Lori. These four will make a strong team, assuming Barbara’s gut feel was wrong.

Best of the Rest…….16 year old Trish from ReThink was amazing! She has created a smart phone app that can minimize cyber-bullying, a big problem that schools and parents are trying to monitor and eliminate. Trisha actually wrote the code that makes up the app, and she has a very bright future. Unfortunately, some of the Sharks didn’t like her business model because it relies on the bullies to download the app and soften their words…..something they’re not likely to do.

Mark and Lori saw the potential, however, and teamed up again with a $100K deal for 20% of Trisha’s company. Mark’s vision is to license the app to a large mobile phone carrier that can use the app as a competitive advantage by pre-loading it on devices to provide a kid-friendly experience for their users.

Justin from ISlide has created a business that customizes flip-flops with names and logos. You might wonder why this would be a great business, but not me. Virtually every young athlete wears flip-flops before and after competing in basketball, baseball, football games, etc. I’ll definitely buy a pair for my grandson. However, Justin came into the tank with an absurd valuation for his company…..$10 million for a company averaging $500K in sales per year. There was no deal here with Shark Robert saying, “Justin, you don’t don’t know what you don’t know”.

Marti and Scott from Spoonful of Comfort allow people to send “get well” packages including soups, cookies, etc. to sick people. Scott had funded the company with $500K plus a $800K loan. Marti and Scott have been selling their product for five years. There was no deal here. It was Marti’s deceased mother that motivated her to start this business. This may have been a case where emotion and passion couldn’t overcome business realities.

 

 

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Shark Tank episode aired May 20, 2016

The Season 7 finale was wild and crazy! No Sharky Awards, but a very entertaining episode. Mr. Wonderful made his best offer in seven seasons of Shark Tank, and then told the next entrepreneur he was an “a-hole” and to “get the f**k out of here”. The season ended with verbal fireworks!

The episode started out with a former contestant making a return to the tank after not getting an offer the first time around. Aaron from Pete & Pedro ended up getting a deal for a company he owned but wasn’t even pitching! Barbara invested $100K for 10% of Alpha M,  a social media product promotion business.

It is very unusual for the Sharks to invest in just one of two companies owned by an entrepreneur. Investors are concerned about how the entrepreneur will allocate his or her time to the business they invest in. They almost always force the entrepreneur to bundle their companies so they can invest in the combined company. This eliminates the time allocation issue.

Next up was Tania from PMS Bites. She has developed vegan, gluten-free snacks for, you guessed it, ladies suffering through PMS. Each snack had just 50 calories and eliminates the desire for sugary treats. Tania gave a very good presentation but didn’t get an offer. The Sharks thought she should rename the product to appeal to a larger audience and she should concentrate on online sales rather than focusing on retail sales.

Tomer from Felt has developed an app that helps streamline the process of writing and mailing Thank You cards. Mr. Wonderful immediately saw synergies with his growing wedding empire and offered Tomer $225K for 10% of his company. Mr. W. sees this being integrated with Honey Fund immediately. As Shark Robert pointed out, this was the best offer he had made in seven seasons as a Shark. When investors see obvious synergies or product extensions, they can go from financial investor to strategic investors and invest more for less equity. This is why Mr. W. offered what he did.

After leaving the Tank, Tomer broke down and cried. I could relate. After getting an investment or booking a big piece of business., you feel a wonderful combination of emotions. You’re relieved, excited, happy, drained, and feeling accomplished all at the same time. I shed a tear with Tomer.

Maneesh from Pavlov has created a watch-like device that sends a shock to people trying to break  bad habits. Although Maneesh gave a slick presentation, the Sharks weren’t buying it. Mark Cuban said, “He’s a con artist”. Barbara said his presentation was “exhausting and complicated”. The fact is, Maneesh had no proof that his product actually works. He cited studies done by others that talked about the benefits of aversion therapy, but he had no clinical trial data of his own.

Then, out of left field, Mr. Wonderful expressed interest! He made another generous offer, but was turned down by Maneesh who said he would accept an offer from any of the Sharks EXCEPT Mr. Wonderful. A series of expletives followed and Maneesh was told to leave the tank immediately.

Here’s where entrepreneurs need to learn the PC way to reject an offer. Maneesh could have just said that he didn’t feel Mr. W was a good fit and leave it at that.

OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE………….B  (C for content and A for entertainment)

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Shark Tank episode aired May 13, 2016

Lots of clever products in this episode……. sleep-over camp for adults, a car condom (Mark Cuban’s description!), and digital pin ball machines.

The star of the show and this week’s Sharky Award winner was 15-year-old Rachel from Gladiator Lacrosse. She absolutely crushed it!

Sharky Award

                                             Sharky Award–Gladiator Lacrosse

Rachel has developed two products that can help lacrosse players improve their games. She’s had $300K in sales, but that wasn’t the most impressive part of her presentation. With poise and  confidence, this young lady ran through her schedule of a typical day. It started at 6 am and went late into the night . It included school, lacrosse (she was the captain of her team),  studying, and using every spare moment to run her business. Great time management skills!

I was shocked that the Sharks didn’t make any offers. I predict great things for Rachel.

Best of the Rest………I liked Adam from Camp No Counselors. He will do about $800K in revenue this year and his company is cash flow positive. He charges an average of $478 for each person attending his camps. The average age of the campers is 30 years old. That said, Adam couldn’t convince the Sharks that he needed money to scale his business rapidly. I think if he had come into the tank with a breakdown of how he would use the money, he could have gotten a deal.

Mathew and Kenny from EVP created a car covering to protect cars from storms, floods, etc. They had limited sales history, but did a deal with Daymond. “We’re going with Brooklyn!” they proclaimed as they rejected Mr. Wonderful’s old-school Royalty in Perpetuity (RIP) offer.

Brad from VPCabs made digital pin ball machines. He was a former IT systems integrator who applied his skills and knowledge to the pin ball industry. Brad claimed that going digital would save lots of maintenance dollars for the owners, but never quantified the savings and never explained why maintenance costs would be reduced. In spite of the fact that Brad had to pay a 15% royalty to the software developer on each unit sold, he got a deal from Daymond…..$200K for 25% equity.

                                    OVERALL RATING FOR THIS EPISODE…………B-

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Why is”Beyond the Tank” a flop?

I can’t tell you how many people have asked me if I know what happened to the Shark Tank contestants after they appeared on Shark Tank. Did they make it, or go bust?

And so I had high hopes for “Beyond the Tank”. As a blogger/entrepreneur who analyzes the entrepreneurs appearing on Shark Tank, “Beyond the Tank” allows me to compare my original analysis (at air time) with the results the entrepreneurs actually achieve over time.

The good news is that my analysis and my predictions have been very accurate. My Sharky Award winners are all doing very well.

The bad news is the show isn’t very good, and the ratings reflect it. Only about 2 million people watch each episode vs. 8 million (or so) that watch Shark Tank.

Unlike Shark Tank, the show is slow moving, tedious, and sometimes downright boring. “Beyond the Tank” rehashes the original appearances on Shark Tank and then shows a seemingly scripted and poorly edited meeting between the entrepreneurs and “their” Shark(s). If the viewer is lucky, there may be one teachable moment worth thinking about. Most segments end in hugs and promises to do better.

Unlike Shark Tank, this show has no real beginning, middle, or end. At the conclusion of each segment you’re not sure if a business will survive, thrive, or go belly-up. From that standpoint, the show reflects what most business start-ups go through.

My suggestions to the show’s producers……….

  • Scrap the show, or at least limit it to 30 minutes instead of 60.
  • Provide a “report card” or “scorecard” for each start-up using criteria like the 4M’s of entrepreneurship (Mindset, Marketing, Money, and Management).
  • Replace the show with the Best and Worst of the Shark Tank and give Sharky Awards to the winners in various categories.

I love Shark Tank and the entrepreneurs appearing on the show, and have watched and reviewed every episode since Season 2 (currently in Season 7). There is a desire on the part of many Shark Tank fans to see how the contestants are doing after their appearances.  I want this show to succeed, but changes are needed for it to survive.

 

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Shark Tank episode aired May 6, 2016

Very strong group of entrepreneurs featured on this episode of Shark Tank. Anyone of the four entrepreneurs would be deserving of the Sharky Award, and I could easily see a four- way tie, but I thought Mai Lieu from CreaProducts was the most impressive and had the greatest upside.

Shark Tank

Sharky Award -CreaProducts May 6,2016

 

Her parents came to the U.S. from Vietnam with very little money. They now live in Hawaii and have raised a great daughter/entrepreneur who started a company that has created beauty products for hair and nails. She even demonstrated  a product that allows people to cut their own hair (she cut her own hair!). She ended up with a deal with Shark Lori. She got the perfect partner and negotiated a deal for $200K for 22.5% equity.

The Best of the Rest…….Heather from dollop has created gluten-free, all-natural frosting for cakes and cupcakes. She had failed at her first business and lost $20K, but has bounced back nicely. Heather is a real hustler (that’s a compliment!). She had already secured deals from Wegmans and Meijers, and has written a book to promote her business. She ended up getting a deal with Barbara after rejecting Mr. Wonderful’s offer to somehow combine her business with Wicked Good Cupcakes, the crown jewel of his Shark Tank portfolio.

In the Youth Division,  Shelby (age 15) and her brother Gordy (age 10) from Yourself Expressions were awesome! They had been selling over $1,000 A DAY of their custom jewelry. The Sharks loved them but made no offers. I was thinking one of them would make an offer just to have access to these two potential superstar entrepreneurs in the future.

Randy, Bernie, and Reuben from Spooner created a spoon-like, mini-surfboard that looks like a lot of fun. With sales of $1.8 million last year, they ended up getting a deal from Mark Cuban and Shark Barbara for $400K for 16% equity…..a valuation of about 1.3X last years sales. Mark has a related business close-by in San Diego that can help Spooner.

The impact of taking on an outside investor was mentioned a couple of times by the Sharks. It can truly change the dynamic of a business. Outside investors require you to update your financials on a quarterly basis, use generally accepted accounting principles, have annual audits or reviews done by 3rd parties, etc. More important, investors require you to keep them in the loop. You need to explain, defend, and sometimes debate many of the decisions that self-funded entrepreneurs make on their own. Of course many of these changes are good for the business, but the dynamic is not the same. Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware…..in this case, let the entrepreneur beware).

   OVERALL RATING FOR THIS EPISODE………..A  

 

 

 

 

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Shark Tank episode aired April 29, 2016

This was the most bizarre episode ever! How bizarre was it? I had to watch it twice just to make sure I really saw what I thought I saw.

First up was Amy from FashionTap. Amy did a very nice job presenting her business and her fashion app.  She was knowledgeable and passionate about her business. She was  very focused and I’m sure she will succeed. As Daymond said, “You’re the real deal”.

Amy made one crucial mistake, however. She had asked for $100K for 10% of her company. She got an offer from Shark Barbara for $100K for 25%. Let the negotiating begin!

It never got started. Amy came into the tank with a non-negotiable offer! She wouldn’t even offer a counter. That’s not how the game’s played! Not on Shark Tank or in real life. If Amy wanted $100K for 10%, she might have started with an “ask” of $100K for 7% to leave some room to negotiate.

John and Anusha from Brellabox had one of the worst product ideas in Shark Tank history……renting umbrellas. People have to enter their credit card information in order to get an umbrella (from a machine that costs $1000 to make).The umbrella rents for $1.50 for 12 hours. If the umbrella isn’t returned, the customer gets charged $40. Mr. Wonderful repeatedly called this a terrible idea. I agree!

Not to be outdone, Bob and Adam from My Fruity Faces laid an egg. They had sales of just $125K in three years despite raising $482K. They only had $4K left in the bank and they were desperate. When they said they believe in their business, Mark Cuban responded, “Belief is not enough”.  The problem was poor execution….mainly in not hustling to sell more of their edible fruit stickers..

These were the two worst back-to-back presentations in Seven Seasons of Shark Tank.

I was unsure about the final entrepreneur, Dave from Brightwheel. He had developed a smart phone app that can show parents what their kids did during the day at pre-school. He had already raised $2.2 million prior to his appearance on Shark Tank, and he got a deal from Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca for $600K at a $9 million company valuation. He was poised and polished during his presentation.

I think this app would be great for the parents, but I had to question the value proposition  for the pre-schools who had to pay up to $200 per month to use the app. I think the teachers have their hands full as it is. Are they going to have to become videographers in addition to their current duties? Will this distract them too much? Will they have to answer too many silly detailed questions from parents? Will a pre-school end up having to hire a full time videographer?

Perhaps they will end up teaching the children to take video selfies. I can see it now…..even infants will have their very own selfie pose! SEE BELOW……

baby selfie

                 OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE……….D+

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Shark Tank episode aired April 22, 2016

On a surface level, this could be considered a weak episode. The grand total invested by the Sharks was $50K….no Sharky Awards tonite. There were, however, many thought-provoking subjects that can help all entrepreneurs avoid the many pitfalls of starting and running a business.

Instead of my usual contestant-by-contestant analysis, I want to highlight a few of the  teachable moments on this episode.

Product Improvements……Even though 14 year olds, Oliver and Sam from The Drip Drop, got a $50K investment from Shark Barbara, the deal is contingent upon them improving their product….the edible ring that catches the melted ice cream that drips from an ice cream cone. The Sharks said they need to make it taste better and make it more visually appealing. The young men need to make these improvements in order to have a chance of succeeding. They were open to these product improvement suggestions.

Risk vs. Reward Analysis……….Jarrett and Raja from Jarrett and Raja Productions have developed a music and magic show for a Vegas venue (TBD).  The show needs to be fully funded before a Vegas property will give them a venue on their property. This requires $750K  to cover all the costs of promoting and performing the show. When asked, Jarrett said there were currently 11 magic shows in Vegas. They had no idea how many magic shows in Vegas actually make money. They also appeared to have little marketing and business expertise. The Sharks saw this as too much risk and not enough potential reward. That’s the analysis most investors make before writing a check.

“Perfection is the enemy of profitability”……Mark Cuban said this in reference to Will from Kid Runner who had taken over three years to design a prototype of his hands-free baby stroller for parents who are runners. Will tried to pitch this as a “go to market investment opportunity”, but the Sharks pegged him as a procrastinating perfectionist who hadn’t received any real customer orders in three years. In addition to Mark Cuban’s words of wisdom, I would add two of my favorites…..when deciding how much time to take developing a product, err on the side of selling it before it is perfect or “Go ugly early”. Then understand that “Progressive improvement beats the hell out of postponed perfection”.  You can always improve your product while selling it to real customers.

Retail vs. Online Sales…….Brenda from Inchbug started her company in 2004 and has sold over $15 million of her first product, “Orbit Labels”, all online. She has a vision of selling her second product, “MyDrinky” (a kids’ drink holder) thru big box retail channels. The Sharks repeatedly warned Brenda that retail is a whole different ball game with many headaches and complexities that she isn’t equipped to deal with. Also, she’s giving up a big chunk of her margins to go retail instead of selling online. Mark pointed out that going retail doesn’t play to her core competencies or experience. Brenda said she was in negotiations with a big box retailer and if the deal comes to fruition, it could generate $1 million in sales in the first year. I think Brenda should have waited until she had the order in-hand before she came on Shark Tank. Up until now she’s only sold $50K of MyDrinky.

OVERALL EPISODE RATING………..B

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