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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Shark Tank episode aired March 3, 2017

For me, the highlight of this episode was the Update segment about Robert Herjavec’s journey from Croatia (formerly Yugoslavia) to Canada. He came to North America on a ship with his parents when he was a young child. He later got into the computer industry and has become a very successful entrepreneur.

As Robert pointed out, “Entrepreneurship is the great equalizer. Business doesn’t care about your sex, race, religion, or where you came from. Business only cares about the value you add”. Well said!

The most impressive entrepreneur/contestant on this episode was Tara from The Sleep Styler. Shark Lori absolutely loved her hair styling product which can be worn to bed to minimize hair prep time in the morning. Lori made a preemptive offer and made it clear she wanted a fast response. Tara negotiated a bit (just the right amount) and ended up getting $75K for 25% of her business.

Shark Tank

Tara’s time management skills are amazing. She’s a practicing ophthalmologist, a mom, a wife, and she started her new business about a year ago. I forgot to mention that with all of this  going on, she somehow found the time to go to hair styling school. She will really be able to use Lori’s help and QVC connections to get her business to the next level.

Next up was Billy from Blendtique Wine Company. He has created a wine kit which allows people to make  customized wine formulations. Shark Barbara and Mr Wonderful had a contest to see who could make the better tasting wine. It was a fun experience, but it seemed like all the Sharks were getting buzzed (except wine expert Mr. W of course!).

In fact, he pointed out that 97% of all wines sold in the US are less than $13 per bottle. Billy was attempting to sell his wine at over $40 a bottle and this has limited his sales to about $100K per year. Shark Lori ended up agreeing to loan him $250K at 8% interest for a 10% equity stake with the hope that he could significantly cost reduce his product and increase sales.

Mark from MealEnders created a chocolate candy that contained ingredients that helps you curb your appetite and lose weight. He didn’t get a deal because his re-order rate was too low (21%), he couldn’t offer quantitative scientific proof that his product actually works, and the Sharks didn’t like the after-taste of the candy.

Aric and Alec from Rareform make backpacks, bags, and wallets from the vinyl used in old billboard advertisements. The Sharks liked the fact that this material was free and that they were keeping it out of landfills, but they aren’t able to make the same bag twice. This eliminates any hope of getting re-orders and puts them in the custom bag business.The business is not profitable and  they had previously sold off lots of equity in order to stay afloat.

Aric and Alec admitted they need the cash and ended up making a deal with Mr. W that was a $300K loan for 10% equity. I’d be surprised if this makes it thru due diligence.

                                 OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE………C+

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Shark Tank episode aired February 24, 2017

This episode featured four millennials with great businesses. I never realized that many millennials have a social cause that they feel passionately about, and in many cases, donate up to 10% of their profits on an annual basis.

(Note….I hope it’s 10% of their after tax profits and not 10% of their revenue. For example, if a young business has $500K in annual sales with $50K in profits, 10% of the top line is $50K, and 10% of the bottom line is only $5K……big difference! Donating 10% of sales is probably not sustainable in the long run.)

I’m giving two Sharky Awards for entrepreneurial excellence this week. The first recipient is Bruno, Brandon, and Steven from Sand Cloud. They have developed a line of very creative beach blankets and towels. With a cost of $10 and an average price of $47, they have nearly 80% margins. They have demonstrated nice growth too.Their sales history……$30K two years ago, $430K one year ago, and $1.6 million in Year-to-Date sales with a forecast of $3 million for the full year. These sales were mostly generated by advertisements on Facebook.

Sharky Award

Sharky Award-Sand Cloud

The Sharks liked what they heard, and a bidding process ensued with Shark Robert getting the deal with a $200K investment for 15% equity. Robert said they reminded him of another company in his portfolio, Tipsy Elves who make “ugly Christmas sweaters”.

It’s interesting to note that when Sand Cloud started their business, the first beach towel they designed was not well received by potential customers. They then walked up and down the beach to ask real live beach-goers what they wanted in a beach towel. This “Focus Group” led them to start over with an entirely different product line. Customer feedback is a good thing.

The second Sharky Award goes to Nathan and Jim from Elephant Pants. These two young men from Brooklyn put on quite a show. After walking into the tank with an elephant wearing pants, they confessed that it wasn’t a good representation of their company. They then ran behind a wall and changed into very baggy, colorful pants and tops and danced to “You Can’t Touch This” by M.C. Hammer. The Sharks were hysterical.

Sharky Award

Sharky Award- Elephant Pants

But don’t be confused by the showmanship. These guys are the real deal. They have sold over $7 million of their products in just two years! Their unit cost averages $6 with a selling price of $24…..great margins. They sell only online and advertise on Facebook and Instagram.

Another bidding war broke out and Shark Daymond got the deal by investing $500K for 17.5% equity (2.5% of that will be Advisory Shares which vest over time).  Daymond had to admit when they danced to Hammer, they had him. Daymond and the guys danced one more time to celebrate their deal.

Best of the Rest……..Abby from DARTdrones runs a national drone training business that has had sales of $520K in 18 months of operation. She got a $300K investment for 10% equity from Mark Cuban to help build additional curriculum. This will be needed as Abby’s business is now focused more on commercial customers rather than private customers.

Abby graduated from Babson College outside of Boston. They are well-known for their focus on entrepreneurship.

Will and Ron from Ora did a nice job presenting their nutritional supplements that are made from “real foods” rather than chemicals. They have had sales of $415K in their first 10 months. They had received $150K in the form of a convertible note at a $2.2 million valuation, but were asking the Sharks to invest at a $7 million company valuation. As you might expect, this did not go over well with the Sharks and there was no deal made.

PS….This episode brought the Sharks total investments to over $100 million since Shark Tank  started eight years ago.

                      OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE………..A

 

 

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