This Shark Tank episode honored military veterans. I LOVED IT!
Each of the four presentations was awesome. The products and services were outstanding, and the entrepreneurs were passionate, well prepared, and knowledgeable. They knew their numbers and were poised and professional.
I am using my “Military Scoring System” to analyze the entrepreneurs…..5,4, 3, 2, or 1 Stars. Obviously, a 5 star rating would be the best and 1 the worst.
The entrepreneurs (in order of their appearance) were…….
Lisa and Cameron from R. Riveter……4 Stars
These two military spouses have created a business that manufactures and sells handbags made by military spouses that are made with military materials (ex-tent fabric). They started the business with just $9K and currently have annual sales of over $300K.
They have provided great opportunities for other military spouses. Their products have great margins (about 70%) and they are making money. Over 60% of their sales are online. The logistics and management challenges of a business like this are daunting (multiple locations, high employee turnover, working with military organizations, etc.), but the ladies seem up to it.
Shark Daymond recommended to Lisa and Cameron that they not take an investment at all. He felt they could continue to grow the company themselves. Mark Cuban offered $100K for 20% equity and they accepted his offer. BTW, R. Riveter pays homage to Rosie the Riveter, a cultural icon of the United States, representing the American women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II, many of whom produced munitions and war supplies.
Tarik and Willie from Beartek…….2 Stars
These second cousins teamed up to develop a technology for people wearing gloves to control various military, commercial, or consumer apparatus with their fingers. Since their only product to date was glove-based, they had a difficult time convincing the Sharks that their business was worth $10 million and could become a ubiquitous technology. The risk/reward was not favorable enough to get a deal done with the Sharks.
I did love the Marine saying used by Tarik and Willie, “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome “. It accurately describes the entrepreneur’s journey too!
Angela from Major Mom……..3 Stars
Angela was my favorite entrepreneur of the night. She was a Major in the Air Force who left the service 10 years ago. She was confident and engaging. You couldn’t help but like and respect her. She has annual sales of $550K in her “house clutter organizing business” and has generated enough profit to invest in the documents and materials needed to franchise her business. Her process and business model had been fine-tuned over 6 years in two locations.
Angela did not get a deal, but got some great advice from the Sharks. Shark Robert recommended she reduce the upfront franchise fee ($10K -$20K) and allow franchisees to pay it off over time with what they earn. Shark Lori thought Angela would be better off not franchising and growing organically. The basic issue here was HOW to scale the business, and how much work it will take to scale it.
I’m certain Angela will figure out the best path for her. I think the Sharks missed out on an opportunity here.
Griffin and Lee from Combat Flip Flops……..5 Stars
Griffin and Lee proved that you can “do well” and “do good” at the same time. Their annual sales are $300K and they have excellent profit margins for their flip flops and other products. Almost 90% of their sales are online.
Mark, Daymond, and Lori invested $100K each for a total equity position of 30% in the company. The only suggestion the Sharks made is that it might be more profitable to cut back on the number of SKU’s offered and concentrate on just flip flops before expanding.
That’s the “do well” part.
Their products are manufactured in war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Columbia, and Laos. They are made by locals who are not only grateful to have a job, but willing to reinvest their profits (matched by Griffin and Lee) in their communities. For example, in Afghanistan, profits are used to educate repressed Afghan girls who have never had an opportunity to go to school.
The over-arching belief is that “Business is more powerful than Bullets” and that we can win the hearts and minds of our adversaries better by exporting the American Dream rather than going to war with them.
Given today’s geopolitical risks, I am concerned for Griffin’s and Lee’s safety when they visit these countries. They may be at risk. They’re both former Army Rangers so I shouldn’t worry.
Griffin can explain this opportunity better than I can. Here he is at Ted Talks…….