Happy Holidays Shark Tank fans. The much anticipated holiday episode of The Shark Tank aired this evening and as expected, the show was very entertaining. We saw some great product pitches with solid sales, some niche business models that need more time and some hard headed Entrepreneurs that didn’t want to listen to the Sharks had to say. As always read through and make comments with your takes on the products and whether you would purchase any on your own.
Lets get started…..
Inventor: Lucinda Lent and Juliet Boydstun
Pitch: The Coop (www.thecoop-la.com)
Requesting: $150k for 15% stake
The pitch began with the two ladies describing how they met and how once they became Mothers, the options for social locations for their children and themselves was limited. Most of the play areas were dirty, outdated and with no focus on the Mothers. They came up with the idea for The Coop, a modern play spot for kids with a coffee bar and deserts for the parents. They opened the first location after securing a $125k loan from a bank. They cater to high end clientele and movie stars but want to roll out the idea to all budgets. The typical cost for a 2 hour party rental is $595-4000 and weekend sales are typically around $5k currently. They recorded $350k in revenue and booked between $125-150k in profit after taking in a salary (pretty nice!). They would ideally like to franchise the concept and the money would help fund another location. Kevin said he was very impressed with the numbers but he would be out. Daymond added that he wouldn’t be able to add anything to the business and for that he would have to be out. Robert followed out. Mark thinks the business is god but it needs more time and he worries about the price and the amount of competition, he was out. Last was Barbara who offered an iterating counter-offer. She would give the $150k for 15% with a personal guarantee to be paid back in 2 years. After some discussion between the two ladies, they took the offer. Congrats!
Feedback: Well I can tell you as a father of a 3 year old daughter, this business is one that parents (Mothers especially) will pay for. Take a look at Gymboree or the Little Gym, while they are competition they do not offer a parent friendly aspect which is unique. I do agree with Kevin in the idea that they need to test a few more locations (outside of LA because LA is not a good representation of the rest of the country because of the amount of affluent citizens). I already have noticed Barbara doing a good job of promotion of The Coop on Twitter and Facebook which will have an immediate impact. The reality of the loan terms are pretty harsh with the fact they need to pay in full the loan in 24 months for relinquishing 15% stake in the company but, the marketing they will get from Barbara is worth it. Look forward to seeing The Coop come to Texas!!
Inventor: Donna McCue
Product: Fat Ass Fudge (www.fat-assfudge.com)
Requesting: $250k for 5% stake
The flamboyantly energetic Donna McCue entered the Tank to pitch her unique fudge company to the Sharks. What makes the product so unique is that it is Lactose Free, Gluten Free and made with goats milk. She began to make chocolate many years ago and the name came from a family nickname. she has been selling mostly locally and has 2 Whole Foods stores she is working with at the moment but has yet to break into their nationwide reach. They recorded $60k in sales over the past 12 months. Kevin offered her $250k for 1000% stake, she is confused then he says he is out. The rest of the Sharks do the same. Donna leaves without a deal.
Feedback: Energy, passion, enthusiasm would be some very accurate adjectives for Donna McCue. She undoubtable has a good product that tastes good and touches on the Gluten, Lactose-Free segments which are growing. The problem once again is her valuation of her company. Valuation can only be accurate when it references either sales history or pending / accounts receivable. Having said that, unless she has an enormous amount of non-cash assets such as equipment her valuation of $5 million dollars is just silly.
Inventor: Scott Martin (a.k.a., Scotty Clause)
Pitch: The Living Christmas (www.livingchristmas.com)
Requesting: $150k for 30% stake
The Tank was full of Christmas trees as a jolly Entrepreneur approached with a long Santa cap and a handlebar mustache. Scott talks about the issue of the annual tradition of cutting down a tree then only weeks later after the holidays have passed it is thrown out. He created a sustainable solution to the problem of deforestation by delivering a living tree with a pot that is only temporarily brought into the home. After the holidays, his company picks up the tree and returns it to the farm where it is fed throughout the remainder of the year until the following Christmas whereby the process repeats. The average cost of the tree rental is $100-200. He had $150k in sales last year with a profit of $33k (no salary taken). He is in need of money for further infrastructure growth to take on more business. Kevin doesn’t like the business because it is seasonal. He is out. Daymond owns a tree farm (yes apparently he does) but thinks the business model has too many unknowns. Robert and Barbara are also out. Mark then asks about how many jobs could be created with the money and offers the $150k for 40%. Scott takes the deal.
Feedback: I really like this concept but, i think he needs to diversify into other non-seasonal products / services. Since I don’t know the first thing about the costs to operate a standard tree farm I would be out of place to provide too much insight here but, I see from the website that Scott has garnered the support of various corporate sponsors and partners which is a good sign. The other thing that concerned me with the finances was the amount of profit (~20% without his salary taken). I think with Mark Cubans support they will be able to find a lean solution to the cash problems. Updates on this one will be greatly appreciated since it is that time of year…
Inventors: Julian Jaccard and Connor Pastoor
Product: Partie Poche (http://188.8.131.52/partiepoche/)
Requesting: $100k for 20% stake
Julian and Connor (two MBA students) are pitching a fashionable, discrete holder for a woman’s cellphone, money, etc,.. The Partie Poche is worn on the leg of the user and virtually out of sight to others. They sold 200 units with prices ranging from $17-36/unit (pricing was incrementally increasing towards the end of the 200 units). A Provisional Patent is in-place. Every time the Sharks began to talk to them about valuation and finances they became very argumentative and arrogant. Julian said she had a meeting with a Nordstrom VP but, didn’t receive a PO because she didn’t have any product. They said the initial product inventory was sold and designed by a freelancer and they didn’t have any more product to sell. A late investment of $50k from some college colleagues which was enough to retain 40% stake of the company (leaving Julian and Connor with a 60% net stake). Kevin was furious and said he was out and forbid the other Sharks to do business with the two. Daymond told them that they were hard headed and he was out. Robert said the two were arrogant and stubborn and he was out. Barbara doesn’t think it will sell and bows out. Mark was left and asked the two to stop talking as he requested them to explain the infrastructure and after the same type of responses as before he says he is out.
Feedback: So many things rub me the wrong way about these two. The first is the attitude of they know it all because they are studying for their MBAs (this was evident when Julian started throwing out financial buzz words). While I am a strong believer in higher education, street knowledge and learning from your failures is far more valuable. The other issue here is that this project does not appear to be a full time venture and the lack of focus on getting additional product manufactured with the $50k investment is perplexing. If I had $50k from an Investor I would find the fastest way to pay them back and that would be through product inventory and sales generation which they appear to have none. This pitch should be an example to other aspiring Inventors to listen to those with knowledge and experience in the business world and don’t talk over them. The final thing, with the airing of the show in the works for some time now, their website is still in Beta mode. Ridiculous! Even bad publicity is publicity and if they couldn’t turn the Shark Tank publicity into money they shouldn’t be on the show.
Thanks everyone for reading this weeks post. Stay tuned for weekly reviews of Shark Tank.
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