Shark Tank episode 22-aired February 11, 2018

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

 

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Shark Tank episode 21-aired January 27, 2018

Three small bootstrapped companies and one Venture Capital-backed company were featured in this episode. Tree sap soda, campfire in a tin, vitamin enhanced dog treats, and healthy food for everyone were the eclectic products that were featured in this episode.

First up was Chad and Nikita from Sap! Their tree sap beverages are made from Vermont trees and sell for $1.99 per can.  I don’t care for the name of their product…..there is a large software company that is named SAP, and Sap! may get called for trademark infringement. I would prefer a name like Vermont Natural Beverages….much more descriptive and appetizing!

The Sharks were not excited about this opportunity….too much of a niche market. No deal.

Brent and Bryan from Radiate have created a “campfire in a tin” that burns for six hours and costs $25. It has the added benefit of repelling mosquitos. They got a deal from Shark Robert for $100K for 25% equity.

Julie and Ryan from Petrol Fuel for Dogs started their company over 10 years ago and was then put on the shelf for a decade before re-launching it. The Sharks were spooked by the long delay before re-starting the business. This is a red flag for investors……it can reflect poorly on the entrepreneur and have investors question the demand for the product. No deal here.

Sam and  David from Everytable have raised over $5 million from “Wall Street Sources” before entering the tank. They have used the money to build a number of restaurants in the LA area. They have a very unique pricing strategy for their healthy food restaurants……restaurants in poorer areas have prices that are significantly lower than prices in more upscale areas. The idea is to make healthy food accessible to everyone, regardless of their economic condition.

The Sharks “got it” and liked the mission. On the other hand, they thought Sam and David lacked passion and the Sharks were not in love with their Wall Street/hedge fund background. Guest Shark Rohan ended up making a deal for $1 million for 10% equity, putting the company valuation at $10 million…….pretty rich for a company with $2.6 million in revenue this year.

                             OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE…………..C

 

 

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Shark Tank episode 20-aired January 27, 2018

Some great one-liners from the Sharks in this episode. Great advice for all entrepreneurs! Here are three of my favorites:

” I like entrepreneurs with PHD’s………Poor, Hungry, Driven”~ AROD (Alex Rodriguez)

” Think like a millionaire, hustle like you’re broke”~ Shark Lori

“Execution trumps talent all day long”~ Shark Robert

Each of the businesses featured was bootstrapped, and the Sharks love businesses that come to the tank without outside investment. It shows resourcefulness, determination, and creativity to get a business off the ground. This is not always the case when starting a business with other people’s money.

The Sharky Award for this episode, which is  given for entrepreneurial excellence,  goes to Ondrea and Marquez from The Dough Bar.  This husband and wife team makes great tasting, healthy donuts with less than 200 calories each. They gave a flawless presentation which included a professional body builder breaking thru a “brick wall”. They had sold $1.2 million of these donuts online in their first two years of operation.

Shark Tank

Sharky Award-The Dough Bar

They use  a co-packer to make and package the donuts so they can concentrate on building a great online presence using social media. They knew their costs and knew what they had to do to increase their sales volume (increase shelf life and reduce shipping costs). I also like the way they have structured their product. They ship plain donuts with toppings packaged separately. This reduces the number of SKU’s they need to manufacture and track, and gives the customer more flexibility.

Three of the Sharks were very interested and Ondrea and Marquez ended up taking Shark Barbara’s offer of  $300K for 20% equity. I could second guess their choice of Barbara (she was up against the team of Lori and AROD who had offered $400K  for 30%), but Barbara REALLY wanted this deal and she convinced them that she could help them thrive.

Jason, Wale, and Wendall from ShowerPill are former football players from Cal who have created a wet wipe-like product that can be used instead of  showering after practice. They were very likeable and passionate about their product, but they committed the cardinal sin for entrepreneurs on Shark Tank.

They didn’t have a good handle on the numbers. They got confused explaining their sales forecasts, gross margins, net margins, and profitability.  The Sharks asked very straight forward questions and they couldn’t answer with any certainty or confidence. No deal here.

Dan and Nick from Changed have an admirable mission…..to help people pay down their student debt from college. They do this by rounding-up credit card purchases to the nearest dollar and then paying down that person’s debt when the “round-ups” reach $100. It costs $1 per month to use their service. The Sharks loved Dan and Nick but thought the business was not easily scaled, and may run into competition from banks.

Despite the concerns and the  limited sales history, Mark Cuban invested $250K for 25% equity. Could there be some political value to Mark down the road? Reducing student debt may be an important issue in the 2020 election.

Mark from SnapClips is a 19-year-old who will be nominated for my Season-End Best Presentation-Youth Division. He has created a patented product that replaces free weight collars in the gym. His demonstration clearly showed why his product is better than traditional collars. His cost to make a pair is $8.50 and he sells them for $29.99….great margins.

The Sharks envisioned a much wider application of his product around the house and in industry. AROD, Lori, and Mark Cuban offered $150K for 30% and Mark accepted.

                 OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE………………A-

 

 

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Shark Tank episode 19-aired January 21, 2018

This episode came to a shocking conclusion when Nicki from The Pop entered the Tank. She had invented a unique pacifier for infants. The pacifier nipple always falls face up so it doesn’t have to be washed/sanitized before going back to the infant. Nicki had sold 25K units on Kickstarter. Shocker #1 was the valuation she placed on her company……$5 million!

Shocker #2 was actually getting two offers from the Sharks albeit at half the proposed valuation. It was obvious which one Vicki would take. Offer “A” included Sharks Sara (Spanx) and Lori. They would be a great team. Both passionate Mom’s with tons of experience selling to women. Offer “B” was from the money man, Mr. Wonderful.

Shocker #3, you guessed it, Nicki selected Mr. Wonderful’s deal! She would have had to pay a 10% equity premium to get Sara and Lori on our team. She figured she could get away giving away 10% equity to Mr. W. instead of 20% to the ladies. No entrepreneur wants to part with equity of their company, but sometimes it’s better to part with a little more equity to get partners that are committed to helping you grow….especially early in the company’s life cycle. I think Nicki picked the wrong offer.

Best of the Rest……………….The other three presentations were uneventful by comparison. Sal, Alex, and David from Bouquet Bar got a deal from Mark Cuban for $150K for 20% of their flower arrangement and customized gift company.

Pat and Mike from The Wingman have invented a light-weight, attractive inflatable vest that will encourage people on boats to wear the vests instead of those large, clunky, orange life vests that no one likes to wear. They will be selling these vests for $249. They had created a nice product but came to the Tank too early. They got one “blood-sucking” offer from Mr. W. and declined.

Kelechi from Zuvaa works with African clothing designers and offers colorful African women’s clothes thru online sales. This former Carnegie Mellon student had turned a $500 investment into a multi million dollar business. She currently sells about $220K of clothes per month and nets about $50K, so her annual revenue is about $600K. Her company valuation was way to high for the Sharks and she got one low ball offer (from Mr. W) which she declined.

                            OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE…………………………….C

 

 

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Shark Tank episode 18-aired January 21, 2018

First into the tank was Jonathan from Rounderbum. He’s sold  over $1 million of his “bum enhancing” underpants. Using a set of adult twins, Jonathan gave a very effective side by side, before-and-after comparison of his product.

He received two offers from the Sharks. Shark Robert would have been the PERFECT partner for him, but he didn’t like the idea of giving up 20 percent equity. Shockingly, he opted for a partnership with Mr. Wonderful who offered  $150K in debt financing in return for $2 per unit until he received 2X his money back ($300K). He would then get 5% equity.

Kevin and Glenn from Brush Hero have a great patented product that cleans almost anything  outdoors with ease.  With $3 million in annual sales, their valuation of $5 million seemed reasonable to me. They made a strategic mistake, however……they said they had no competition and there was nothing like their product on the market.

When they asked to leave the tank to discuss two offers they had on the table, Shark Robert told the Sharks that he knew of similar products used in car detailing. That “spooked” the Sharks and caused Daymond to go out and Lori to restructure her offer to the point it was no longer attractive to Kevin and Glenn. They passed. The moral to the story, be honest about the competition and don’t leave the tank before you close the deal!

Disha from Savy gave a very dull, uninspiring presentation about her shopping app. She’s only 20 years old and has a lot to learn about business. The Sharks all went out when she said she wasn’t going to take advantage of an engineering scholarship to the University of Michigan. Disha doesn’t know what she doesn’t know………a critical flaw for any entrepreneur.

Jennifer and Buddy from Guzzle Buddy have created a glass that be attached to a wine or beer bottle so you can drink straight out of the bottle. It seemed like a silly idea to me, but they managed to sell $1.4 million in 10 months. Daymond offered $400K for 25 percent and they quickly took it. This should be a great gag gift.

                              OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE…………………..C+ 

 

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Shark Tank episode 17-aired January 14, 2018

Solid episode with three good deals.

When Alice’s from Alices’s Table started her presentation describing her “flower arranging classes” I was not impressed by the potential of her business. She sold kits to people that wanted to start a business teaching people how to make their own flower arrangements. The kit was sold for $699 and included the necessary materials and training. She received a 30% commission on all tickets sold to the classes. The business didn’t seem exciting or scalable to me.

Alice mentioned during her presentation that this could become a platform for other types of businesses and Mark Cuban jumped all over that. He coined the phrase “Business in a Box” and started to think about how various businesses could be sold to newbie entrepreneurs. Mark thought this could become a $100 million a year business and Alice agreed. Mark and Guest Shark Sarah (founder of Spanx) made a deal calling for $250K for 10% with an option to buy another 10% in the future. Not bad for a company with only $180K in sales!!!

Nick, Glenn, Scott from Zup were next into the tank. Their product was a combination  surfboard, boogie board, and water ski’s. They expect to have sales of $1 million this year with a net profit of $200K before paying themselves. They have $500K in debt.

The Sharks felt there was too much competition in this space, and although Zup had some patents on their product, they had trouble differentiating themselves from the competition. They actually sued a competitor for patent infringement and lost the case. That’s one of the considerations before applying for a patent. Getting a patent is relatively inexpensive, but defending it can be very expensive….especially against a big company. Their next step is to go before a patent judge, and that can be really expensive.

Patents aside, Glenn was very emotional and didn’t describe the problem his product was trying to solve. He just talked about the features and not the benefit of owning the product. No deal here.

Wendy from Boobie Bar did immediately identify the problem she was trying to solve….increasing the volume of mother’s milk. She had sold $778K of her herbal lactation bars over the past two years. Wendy claimed they increase milk volume by 1.5 to 4.0 ounces, but she didn’t have clinical testing to back-up her claim. Such testing would also allow Doctors to recommend it to their patients. That discouraged all the Sharks except Mr. Wonderful and  Daymond.

Daymond ended up getting the deal ($150K for 20%) when he told Wendy his wife just had a baby was going through the nursing experience, and he could relate to some of the stress and pressure associated with the process. Sometimes that personal appeal is enough to get the deal.

Eugenia from Pandaloon has an online store that sells pet costumes that allows customers to dress up their dogs to look like panda bears. The Sharks were doubled over laughing when her little dog ran out on the stage in the panda costume. Very funny stuff!

In fact, one of her videos got over 140K views online! The fact that this is a very small niche market (dog costumes) caused Shark Lori to exit early, but Daymond made a deal for $60K for 35% equity and he planned on donating 10% equity to animal charities.

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

 

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Shark Tank episode 16-aired January 14, 2018

This episode was long on entertainment and relatively short on important content.

Joe and Miranda from Joe’s Fish Fry gave a great presentation. They were confident and knowledgeable. They had overcome many obstacles including the loss of their business in Katrina. That didn’t stop them, however. They took their show on the road and perfected their packaged fish fry by talking to customers at various locations around the country.

As Mark Cuban put it,”If an entrepreneur is relentless, anything is possible”.

Joe and Miranda have stores like Kroger and Publix selling their product. With a sales forecast of $270K for the current year and $450K for next year, they demonstrated a track record and knowledge of the numbers. They got a deal from Shark Daymond for $150K for 25% equity. This deal should be a win-win.

Michele from G.O.A.T. Pet Products makes speakers for dogs that plays stuff you record that you want your dog to say. Really? Is this solving a problem? I guess PetSmart must think so because they they offered a six month exclusive deal for $2 million with no returns. Michelle is a saavy business person and negotiating a no-return policy was genius. The problem for the Sharks is that their was no actual customer “sell thru” data because it wasn’t available in the stores yet.

Michelle somehow got a deal with Shark Robert calling for $499 for 1/3 of her company. Who knows, maybe this will become the Pet Rock of the Pet industry…..a great gag gift for dog owners.

Howie from DudeRobe makes robes for men. Although the robes were well designed, they look like a hoody sweat shirt and all-purpose shorts that you could buy for less than $100. Howie’s price was $219. Not enough product differentiation to justify the price in a very competitive marketplace. here. No offers.

Chris and Lindsay from The Long Hairs makes hair ties for guys with long hair. Facing no competition and being pioneers of sorts, they had great fun with the Sharks making them wear long haired wigs, and they even got a deal from Mark Cuban for $100K for 20% equity.  This was a very entertaining pitch. They showed a video of one of them “flopping” his hair for 14 straight days in the Grand Canyon. Far out.

OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE…..A for entertainment and C+ for content.

 

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