My favorite Shark Tank episodes are the ones that are “theme-based”. This episode featured America’s (Unsung) Heroes. It included a nurse, a veteran, and a Peace Corp volunteer. But my favorite was a firefighter and his wife who made bags from firefighter’s old “Turnout Coats and Pants”.
Niki and Matt from FFTOB were so impressive, I am awarding them a Sharky Award for entrepreneurial excellence.
They have formed a company that has very low material costs (old Turnout Coats from Fire Departments), that has very low marketing costs (extensive use of social media), that has excellent profit margins (over 50%), that leverages Niki’s love of sewing (she’s been sewing since she was 13), that recycles coats that would have gone into landfills, and that gives a share of their profits to charity. WOW!
During the presentation, Niki made a couple of profound statements. When asked about a decision made some time ago, she responded, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know back then”. Being an entrepreneur requires constant (daily) learning, and it’s critical to know what you don’t know, so you can get help in those areas and avoid making big mistakes.
The other statement is that “Banks only lend money to people that don’t need it”. So true! It’s important to build a track record with banks. Start by borrowing a small amount and paying it back early to build a relationship with a banker. They only like sure things!
Niki and Matt were faced with a tough decision. Shark Lori offered them $250K for 50% equity and Shark Robert offered to buy the whole company for $500K. At this point, selling the whole company would be like selling your first born. There’s too much emotional attachment and too much growth potential to cash out now. Lori will be a great partner.
My only criticism of FFTOB is the company name is too hard to remember…..I would have preferred something like Firefighters’ Turnout Bags. Also, the company will be a challenge to scale because of the high labor content required to make the bags.
A close second for the Sharky Award was Melissa from Tranquilo. This pediatric nurse has created a patented vibrating mat that comforts babies. Melissa has sold $65K of them in 7 months of operation. She had invested $198K of her own money (inheritance from her Grandfather) and sold her house to fund Tranquilo. She’s all in!
She got a very nice deal from Shark Robert (who has been very quiet recently) that called for a $250K investment for 15% of the company. Nicely done.
Shark Robert made another deal (he’s on fire!) with veterans Rene and Dale of Doc Spartan. They have created healing ointment that can be used as a first aid product. It is made in America (Portsmouth, Ohio) and although they have limited sales history, Robert invested $75K.
Evan from Peaceful Fruits is a former Peace Corp Volunteer. In his travels, he came across a fruit called Acai which is a great anti-oxidant. This has become the prime ingredient in his line of his organic snacks.
Even though Mark Cuban believes ” Social Enterprise is the future of capitalism”, Evan did not get an investment from the Sharks because the risk-reward profile was not compelling. Evan did a great job presenting his products!
OVERALL RATING OF THIS EPISODE………….A