Senior Lecturer at the University of Florida Incorporates Shark Tank in Management Curriculum

Jane Bachelor, a Senior Lecturer in Food and Resource Economics at the University of Florida recently received NACTA’s Educator Award for excellence in college teaching at the national and international level.  Her courses are attended by nearly 800 online students from across the country and around the world.

Bachelor recently incorporated selected  “Shark Tank” episodes in her curriculum to illustrate to her students how entrepreneurs can utilize various presentation techniques to convince a potential investor to help fund their companies. The students gained authentic entrepreneurial experience through Shark Tank.

“They’re learning sales and communication. We discuss presentations that led to investments by the Sharks, as well as those that were not as successful. We talk about what the entrepreneurs could have done differently”,  states Bachelor.

Bachelor went on to say, “We had help from Tim McEneny, who met with our students online to critique their analysis of each entrepreneur. Tim started his career working for large corporations and later became a very successful internet entrepreneur. He’s the author of “Unlocking Your Entrepreneurial Potential”and is an independent blogger for “Shark Tank” and CNBC’s “The Profit”. He mentors numerous entrepreneurs, and judges college Business Plan contests.

For Jane Bachelor, the goal of all the class exercises is to create students who ask good questions….whether they’re watching Shark Tank or evaluating a job offer.

“They learn to evaluate and think more critically. Utilizing higher order thinking skills, they problem-solve. These are skills they’ll need when they go for their first job. That’s the goal”.

 

 

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Shark Tank episode aired May 15, 2015

This is the final episode of Season 6 of Shark Tank. Tonite’s Sharky Award winner for entrepreneurial excellence is……..

Shark Award


Sharky Award
Spikeball
May 15 ,2015

Chris from Spikeball had all the elements for a great pitch. First, he and two  Spikeball teams gave an exciting demonstration of this “new” sport. The “new” is in quotes because Chris had recently purchased the rights to this 1989 game which had little success in toy stores. He re-launched the game as a sport, and has organized over 100 Spikeball tournaments around the country.

The margins are great (about 70%) and Chris’s sales are forecasted to be $3.2 million this year. He’s already done a great job marketing the product and the sport. He negotiated well with Shark Daymond and got a deal for $500K for 20% of his company. This will be a great partnership.

The Best of the Rest……Sometimes a potential investor just doesn’t “get it”. I found myself in that category for the remainder of this episode.

First, there was David and Zack from Shark Wheel. These two had literally re-invented the wheel and had developed a wobbly looking wheel which they feel is “superior” to the wheel we’ve known and loved for more than a few years. Somehow they got three of the Sharks to invest in their company. At best this struck me as a fad, and I can’t see a lot of Mom’s putting their babies in carriages relying on these wheels.

Next up was Adriana, a very personable and perky young lady who had a concept (not even a business) which required people to pay $9 to go into a café where they eat and drink surrounded by cats. Sorry, I just don’t get it.

The final entrepreneur was pretty cool and very knowledgeable in the toy industry. Joe from Sway Motorsports had created a 3-wheel electric motor scooter that had generated $350K in pre-sales orders”. Although the design of his scooter was unique, I think there is already a lot of competition in this space. Joe was strapping on his helmet and was getting ready to ride into the sunset when Mark Cuban asked him for a more realistic deal, and they ended up making a deal for $300K for 20% equity.

Beyond the Tank…..In this Shark Tank Update series,  we hear about the progress (or lack thereof) of previous deals. Sometimes I go back to my archives to see what I had to say about the entrepreneurs right after they appeared on the show.

Mix Bikini had received an investment from Shark Barbara in 2012. Here was my analysis right after the show aired……

“Watching Frank & Adam, from Mix Bikini was like watching a slow motion train wreck. They couldn’t even agree on their opening investment offer! One said $50K for 5% and the other said $50K for 10%. They didn’t have a Business Model, they said things like, “We’re open to suggestions” when asked about licensing potential. Their presentation was weak. Despite all of their goofs, they somehow landed an investment from Barbara. This partnership will be challenging”.          

PS…..After spending over $50K on a party to celebrate their Shark Tank appearance, the website crashed and the business never got off the ground. It was effectively out of business in 10 days!

See you sometime in the fall when season 7 of Shark Tank begins. I will be publishing my Best and Worst of Season 6 very soon.

 

 

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Shark Tank episode aired May 8, 2015

Very strong episode…lots of variety and three deals were made. Each of the entrepreneurs did an excellent job, so I will be giving three Sharky Awards for entrepreneurial excellence.

Platinum Sharky Award……Keri and Alesia from You Kick Ass have invested $120K of their own money and raised money on Kickstarter (crowd funding website) to start their custom action figure business. You simply upload a photo of someone, select an action figure body, and they “build” a personalized action figure using 3D Printing. Clever.

Although they were a pre-revenue company, they gave the best presentation of the episode. They had personalized their demo for each of the Sharks to get them excited. Keri and Alesia have great backgrounds (one with 3D printing and one at Microsoft) and have developed software that will allow them to expand their business into other areas. Mark Cuban made a deal with them for 10% of the company for a $100K investment.

Shark Award

You Kick Ass
May 8,2015

Gold Sharky Award…….Christopher from SynDaver Labs makes synthetic cadavers for the medical industry. Although he scored a $3 million investment from Shark Robert for 25% of his company, Chris was not a true entrepreneur. He showed little passion (Shark Barbara said afterwards that the cadaver showed more energy than he did), and admitted he was not motivated by money and profits (no investor wants to hear that!). That said, Chris has a great product that can help save lives.

Although Christopher was very honest with the Sharks, he should have said he will be emphasizing sales growth for the next X years, and will then focus on increasing profits at that time. That sounds better than, “I don’t care about money”. Shark Robert will be hiring a CEO immediately to help run the business.

Silver Sharky Award……..Beatrice, Madeline, and Lizzy from Zoom Interiors did a deal with Barbara on the condition that they won’t try to develop software to automate the process of re-designing people’s apartments. There current process is working just fine, thank you.

These three college buddies gave a very compelling presentation about their business. The only question was, “How are you going to scale the business”? They believed that developing software would help them eliminate a 15 minute free consultation with potential clients. The Sharks disagreed with their approach for two reasons. First, software development is a tricky business and always costs more that you think (and you’re never really done….you’re always enhancing and debugging), and human contact is always a good thing when trying to connect with customers…..especially in a “hi-touch” industry like interior design.

Shark Chum Award……. Tony and Josh from Sun Screen Mist had developed a large machine to help people apply sun block. This struck me as a solution in search of a problem.  Their business model was too complicated and the machines were too expensive for the Sharks. No deal here.

 

Posted in barbara corcoran, business startup, Crowd Funding, Entrepreneur, Kevin O'Leary, Lori Greiner, Mark Cuban, Mr. Wonderful, Robert Herjavec, Shark Tank, Sharky Award, start-up, Tim McEneny | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shark Tank episode aired May 1, 2015

The winner of this episode’s Sharky Award for entrepreneurial excellence is…….

Pat (Boone) and Ethan from Zero Pollution Motors have the rights to build and sell a car that runs on air in the State of Hawaii. The car runs on compressed air, can go up to 50mph, and has a range of 100 miles. ZPM ended up landing a deal with Shark Robert who loves cars. The offer was for $5 million for 50% of the company contingent on Robert sitting down with the company that developed the car (currently in Europe) to negotiate a license to build and sell the cars throughout the U.S.  If that happens, this could prove to be a huge success! If not, no harm, no foul.

Best of the Rest……Greg from World Record Striper Company is a world-class fisherman. He developed fish bait called “Rattlefood” which helped him catch the largest striped bass ever in the U.S.  Shark Mark Cuban made Greg an offer and the company will be merged with Shell Bobbers, another fishing oriented company which Mark had invested in prior to this episode. Greg was a delight! He loved fishing, he loved being on Shark Tank, and he loved life.

Konrad and Kevin from Frameri made designer glasses with snap in/out lenses. They had a great product but their “ask” was way too high ($4.3 million valuation) and their go-to-market experience was way too low. They only got one low-ball offer from Mr. Wonderful and turned it down. They seemed so passive, I got the feeling that they were quite happy not doing a deal and just getting the exposure of being on Shark Tank.

Shauna from Paleo Diet Foods gave a nice presentation (loved the caveman!), but she had too many balls in the air and was spread too thin. For example, she was a trainer, a dental hygienist, an entrepreneur, and a mother of three. The Sharks thought she was running in too many directions and lacked focus. Shauna shed a few tears during her presentation. I believe it was simply because she was  mentally and emotionally exhausted. I believe everyone has X amount of creative energy and no more. Every minute you spend on other business interests detracts from your main business. No deal here.

 

 

 

Posted in Crowd Funding, Daymond John, Entrepreneur, Kevin O'Leary, Lori Greiner, Marcus Lemonis, Mark Cuban, Mr. Wonderful, patents, Robert Herjavec, Shark Tank, Sharky Award, start-up, Tim McEneny, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shark Tank episode aired April 24, 2015

Excellent episode! Three great entrepreneurs made it difficult to pick the Sharky Award winner. I will therefore use my old format and award a Platinum, Gold, and Silver Sharky. One Shark Chum Award will be given to one company with a really bad idea and a weak presentation.

Platinum Sharky Award…..Brittany and Kim from ZinePak  landed a $725K deal from Robert and Lori. They exuded confidence, passion, and knowledge of their marketplace. They develop eye-catching packaging for CD’s for “super-fans” of various recording artists. Brittany and Kim met at an ad agency where they both felt they were not being allowed to fully utilize their talents.

ZinePak will have sales of $4 million this year and forecasts sales of $8 million next year. Their deal placed the company valuation at approximately 1X last years sales. I believe there are many other potential avenues for growth. Wherever there are super-fans, there are opportunities for ZinePak!

Gold Sharky Award……Erik and Sasha from Buck Mason declined several of the Sharks offers. I think they made the right decision. They did not want to give up 25% of their company for $200K. Considering they started their online men’s clothing business 10 months ago with just $10K, and will have sales of approximately $500K this year, who could blame them for rejecting the Sharks’ offers?

Hats off to Erik and Sasha for keeping all their manufacturing in the U.S. This is more than a patriotic gesture…..it allows them to work closely with the folks that actually make their clothes, thereby improving quality, decreasing lead times, and gaining first-hand knowledge for potential product and process improvements.

Silver Sharky Award…….Bryan from Noene USA is a former NFL player who had bought into a European company that makes insoles for sneakers. He had negotiated an exclusive distribution agreement in the U.S. and Canada.

There were three things I liked about Bryan’s presentation. First, he gave a very compelling demo of his product when he covered a piece of glass with the Noene insole and dropped a heavy ball on it, and the glass didn’t break! Second, he was very likeable and respectful of the Sharks (I’m sure the NFL would love to have more players like Bryan). Third, I loved his tag line……”Thinner than a dime”. It provides a great mental image of his product.

He got a deal from Daymond and Mark Cuban, but had to give up 30% of his company for $200K. He got two great partners and it was a good deal considering Daymond and Mark’s connections in the world of sports and sneakers.

Shark Chum…..Jamie and Dean from SnagaStool  built a mobile phone app that helps people reserve seats at bars. This struck me as a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. As Mr. Wonderful pointed out, this app only allows you to reserve unwanted off-peak seats, not prime time in-demand seats that people might be willing to pay for. They had no revenue and I expect this trend will continue.

 

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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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