Shark Tank episode aired April 17, 2015

Very strong episode…..three deals and a nice mix of industrial, agricultural, media, and consumer products. On balance, the most impressive presentation was delivered by Armand, Mark, and Bryan from Melni Connectors and they are the winners of this episode’s Sharky Award for entrepreneurial excellence.

Shark Award

Melni Connectors
April 17, 2015

These three walked away with a $500K investment from Mark Cuban. Mark readily admitted that he didn’t understand their industrial strength electrical connector business, but he knew it was something unique and had a large potential upside. What really sold Mark Cuban was Bryan, a retired lineman, who loved the product and invested $50K of his own money without even asking about the company valuation.

This was a good demonstration of how important it is for a startup to thoroughly understand their end-users and their needs. Bryan had this knowledge and knew that other linemen would love this product.

Mark Cuban compared this to his own video streaming startup where investors were “throwing money at him” without understanding the business because they had FOMO….Fear of Missing Out!

A close second in the Sharky competition was Mont from PittMoss. Mont had developed a substitute for Peat Moss that is made from recycled paper. This is a green initiative that actually costs less and has superior performance when compared to Peat Moss.

Mont landed a $600K deal from the three “boy Sharks”, and I see huge upside potential for this 50-year-old entrepreneur. I did have to deduct a few style points for his answer to the question, “What are your sales?” His answer….”Our sales suck”. He went on to say  that he had only sold $22K of his product. I thought he was doomed at that point.

A much more professional approach would have been to say that his only goal at this point was a “Proof of Concept” and that the next step was to add to his production capacity so he could scale his business.

Best of the Rest…..Somehow Danielle and Julia from Neatcheeks managed to get a 150K investment with only $4K in sales and no patent protection (can you really get a patent for a flavored face wipe?). They also made a strategic error by saying they would use most of the Shark’s money to pay themselves salaries. Normally  investors want their money to grow the business, and not pay the owners a salary. The “lady Sharks” made offers and Barbara got the deal.

Alex and Sherisse from Beneath the Ink had a very clever software product that enhances the ebook reading experience by allowing the reader to drill down and learn more about a particular subject in the book. They were a pre-revenue company that had already raised $640K prior to their appearance in the Tank. With only 8 books “BINK-enabled” so far, they will have a tough journey with lots of competition. No deal here. I hope they can sell their technology to a bigger player in the industry.

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Shark Tank episode aired April 10, 2015

This episode featured the four most likeable entrepreneurs of Season 6. They all showed great entrepreneurial spirit, and gave solid presentations. Alas, none of them stood out. They all had nice little businesses, but I didn’t see any with major upside potential. Each made some relatively minor strategic or tactical errors. No Sharky Awards will be given to any of these very nice contestants.

First up was Alex from Budsies. He fascinated me. He gave a flawless verbal presentation. I believe Alex has overcome a childhood stuttering problem to become an excellent speaker. His product was a plush toy that is custom designed based on pictures of people (or pets!) that are uploaded from their smart phones.

His product was clever, but clearly not scalable. He was accused of not being laser focused by the Sharks. Alex did get some lowball offers but turned them down.

Next up was Matt from BeeThinking.  I learned a couple of things from Matt’s presentation. First, the Honey Bee population is shrinking and no one knows why. Second, one-third of our food supply depends on Bee Pollen.

He had sold $775K of his hives in the last 12 months…..certainly respectable. Matt made a couple of mistakes. His valuation of $4 million was way too high ($1.5 million or 2X last year’s sales would have been a more reasonable starting point). Also,  he never told the Sharks how he would use the $400K he was asking for. Matt is all-in and I think he will do fine on his own.

Julie from PullyPalz had invented a great product for infants in search of their pacifier. In addition to solving the immediate problem, her product had several child development benefits (getting the left brain and right brain to work together). A very clever product indeed.

Julie made a couple of relatively minor mistakes. The Sharks asked her, “What’s holding you back?”. She said she couldn’t keep up with demand (she had $97K in sales).  Later she said she had invested $175K of her own money and still had a $100K in inventory. Surely that could be used to satisfy the demand. I think she meant that as a solo entrepreneur, she couldn’t keep up with the demands of running a business by herself (sorry if this sounds too “nit-picky”, but proper terminology is important!). Her second mistake was risking losing Shark Lori’s offer by turning down her offer for 30% of the business. She was lucky Lori countered with 28%. This was a poor risk-reward analysis on Julie’s part.

That said, I liked Julie a lot and found myself rooting for her to get a deal. She came closest to capturing the prestigious Sharky Award. With Lori’s help, I think she will do well.

The final contestants were Joel & Arsene from Forus. They had developed some super light-weight sneakers (tennis shoes for those west of Pittsburgh). Despite the fact that they had sold about $500K in the last 6 months, they were trying to compete with many huge global powerhouses, and the Sharks didn’t bite.

Guys, I hope you PROVE THEM WRONG!!!!! Best of luck.

 

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Shark Tank episode aired November 14, 2014

Shark Tank Ratings:

This episode was re-broadcast on April 3, 2015.

Originally posted on TimMcEneny:

Tonite was the 100th episode of Shark Tank. After the show, the Sharks toasted their success and the success of the show. Although it is very difficult for entrepreneurs to get on the show (some 30,000 applied this year), it is a great platform for learning what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.

I loved Shark Daymond John’s quote during the after-party……”Being an entrepreneur is the ultimate equalizer”. It provides an opportunity for everyone to become wealthy and have a fulfilling professional and personal life.

On tonight’s episode, three of the four entrepreneur/contestants received funding from the Sharks. One of them stood out and won this week’s Sharky Award winner for entrepreneurial excellence………

Shark Tank Sharky Award
November 14, 2014
Pipcorn

Jen and Jeff from Pipcorn…….This brother/sister team from Brooklyn, NY have created a healthy, gluten-free alternative to popcorn. The Sharks loved the taste of their mini-popcorn and loved Jen and Jeff. …

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Shark Tank episode aired November 7, 2014

Shark Tank Ratings:

This episode of Shark Tank was originally aired on November 7, 2014 and re-broadcast on March 27, 2015.

Originally posted on TimMcEneny:

In this episode, the  Sharks paid tribute to the men and women of the United States armed forces. As part of Veterans Small Business Week, the tank welcomed vets who have recently served in Middle East and and returned home to start new businesses.

The Sharks were impressed with each of the vets. It was obvious that the lessons learned in the military were being carried over to their lives as civilians and entrepreneurs. Each of these vets/entrepreneurs deserve credit for their accomplishments and service.

I will therefore alter my usual Sharky rating system for this episode. Here are the Sharky Awards for entrepreneurial excellence……

The 4 Star Sharky Award winner is Ashley from The Natural Grip. 

Wow, you talk about high energy and passion! Ashley had invented customizable hand grips that are worn while exercising. Competitive grips and gloves are bulky and can’t be customized.

Ashley had a great sense of humor. When…

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Shark Tank episode aired March 20, 2015

If there was a Sharky Award for entrepreneurial excellence for youngsters 10 and under, it would surely go to 9 year old Mikaila  (and her Dad, Theo). Mikaila started Bee Sweet Lemonade five years ago and has built it up to the point where YTD Sales are $25K ! Mikaila really knew her stuff, and with a helping hand from Mom and Dad, she has developed the business to the point where she could make an inspirational appearance on Shark Tank and land a deal with Shark Daymond John. Well played, Mikaila. You are the future of America!

In the big boy division, Kevin Connolly (Entourage) look-alike Pat from Brand Yourself has built a $2 million+ business with 60 employees after his graduation from Syracuse University. His service allows people and businesses to re-order or modify search engine results in order to let people put their best foot forward when looking for a job, trying to make a sale, get a loan, etc. He has over 300,000 free users and over 5,000 paying customers.

Sharky Award

Sharky Award
Brand Yourself
March 20, 2015

Even though Kevin, I mean Pat, left the tank without a deal, he showed great composure and a sense of ethics when he turned down an offer from Shark Robert Herjavec for $2 million at an $8 million company valuation . Pat was protecting his earlier investors who had just invested $3 million at a $15 million dollar valuation.

Even though Pat has a lot of competition, he is likely to get acquired down the road by one of the bigger players in the industry. Good luck to this week’s Sharky Award winner!

Best of the Rest…..Ryan from The Home.T sells Tee Shirts that feature the home state of the person wearing the shirt. Ryan is a very accomplished marketing professional. He has managed to build a successful online business selling unique tee shirts. He received three low ball offers from the Sharks but turned them all down. The Sharks believed this was a fad or transient business that was not sustainable. Ryan thought he could net more money this year than the overall valuation the Sharks were placing on his business. I believe Ryan made the right decision by turning them down.

James and Brooke from icPooch had only sold 115 of their “Facetime for dogs and their owners” platform. Mr. Wonderful thought the unit looked like a fire hydrant and might invite a dog to relieve himself while their master was away. James and Brooke need proof that their concept works, and that will only come through more robust sales.

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Shark Tank episode aired March 13, 2015

2013 Shark Tank contestant Dave from Echo Valley Meats returned to the Tank and got a deal from Mark Cuban for the mail order portion of his business. The great part of this story is that Dave learned so much from his earlier appearance. Two years ago he came across as a guy who knew his product but not much about how to grow a business. This time he knew his numbers and had taken the Sharks’ advice to start a mail order business in addition to his retail/wholesale business. The moral to the story…….great entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes and listen to input from customers, employees, and potential investors. GOOD JOB, DAVE!

Dave was inspirational, but Brian from Emazing Lights won the Sharky Award for entrepreneurial excellence tonite.

Sharky Award

Sharky Award
Emazing Lights
March 13, 2015

 

Brian has created something called “gloving”, which I would describe as Break Dancing 2.0. His sales were $8 million a year for his gloves with lights.  At first I thought it might be a hoax, but Brian ended up getting a deal from Mark and Daymond at a $13 million valuation. Assuming this deal makes it through due diligence, it could be a huge winner despite its transient nature.

Best of the Rest……. Rob, Jonathon, and Avin from Aqua Vault got a quick deal from Daymond for $75K from 25% of their company that makes small beach vaults that allow people to bring their phones, wallets, glasses, etc. to the beach without worrying about someone walking off with them. I couldn’t help but wondering…….what if they walk away with the vault?

Catalina from Naja is a perfect example of too much Venture Capital chasing too few high quality deals. Prior to her appearance on Shark Tank, she had raised $850K at a valuation of $5 million for her company the makes bra’s and lingerie. The investment was secured based on a couple of sketches of her products. Her sales were $145K in the last 6 months.

Granted, Catalina’s products are beautifully designed (per Daymond) and she has a great education (Stanford), but she was lucky to get a VC investment prior to Shark Tank at that valuation. This not to say that Catalina won’t be successful in the long run, but she’s got a lot to prove. She’s a little too early for her appearance on Shark Tank.

Update….. Congrats to Sharky Award Winner Pipcorn. They have had great success since their appearance earlier in Season 6 selling their gluten-free popcorn. Barbara is their investor/partner.

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Shark Tank episode aired March 6, 2015

The theme of  Friday’s Shark Tank episode was “Made in America”. It featured four businesses with Sales of less than $500K that manufactured their products in America. The winner of this week’s Sharky Award for entrepreneurial excellence is Sharon and Kate from Frill.

Sharky Award

Sharky Award
Frill
March 6, 2015

These two friends started a company that makes and sells dresses that allow sorority sisters to “dress in unison during rush week”.  As seniors, these two had Revenues of $149K…..not bad for a couple of college kids!

Besides their poise and knowledge of the marketplace (they knew there are 3,127 sorority chapters in the US and Canada), they had added a Bridal Division to sell dresses to bridesmaids. This accomplished several things. First, it took a highly seasonal business (sorority dresses) and smoothed their business with year-round demand (weddings). Second, this leverages their product expertise while increasing their revenues and profits. Third, it gives them a ready-made pipeline of demand once the sorority girls graduate. Great strategy!

Sharon and Kate ended up with a deal from Sharks Barbara and Kevin for $100K for 30% equity…..a fair valuation at 2X last year’s sales.

The Best of the Rest….Jason and Michelle from Twin Z Pillow were a close second to Frill. They had invented a pillow that could be used to feed twins simultaneously. The product and the company were started out of necessity…..Jason and Michelle recently had twins AND lost their corporate jobs at the same time. Many great companies were started when the founders had their backs against the wall…..it forces creativity and taking risks that you otherwise may not take. Shark Mark Cuban said it all, ” You put it all on the line. You are the American dream”.  They got a deal with Shark Lori for $75K for 15% equity.

Dave from Coco Jack took 12 years to bring his coconut cutting tool to market. He had very poor organizational skills and was into a million different things. Despite these drawbacks, Dave somehow got a deal from Mark Cuban.

The deal itself is worth some discussion. It was a “convertible debt” deal at 7% interest. It remains on Coco Jack’s books as debt until a pre-determined time. At that point, the amount Mark invested ($125K) is either converted to equity (25% of Dave’s company) or the debt must be paid with 7% annual interest. If things don’t go well for the entrepreneur or the timing is bad, and the $125K can’t be paid back, Dave’s patents and other assets go to Mark.

This is a high risk/reward situation for the entrepreneur. Our software company had a convertible debt deal that came due a week after 9/11/2001. The investors wanted their money back. We had enough cash to pay off the debt (with interest) and held on to the company, but it took us several years to climb out of the hole we found ourselves in.

Finally, there was George from BedRyder. He was a very good salesman but he couldn’t convince the Sharks to invest in “his” company…..low sales, high costs, and tremendous potential liabilities hurt him. But his biggest mistake was not bringing Cary, the company founder and 85% owner to the tank. No deal here.

 

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