This weeks episode was nothing short of entertaining as we saw entrepreneurs from all corners of the consumer market present their products / services to the sharks. The sharks for this week were: Kevin (Mr. Wonderful), Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec, Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John. The good diverse backgrounds was sure to yield some offers (assuming the product and presentations went well). Without any delay here is how the show panned out in chronological order.
As always, if you have another past episode you wish me to review or to comment on please make suggestions following the post.
Inventor: Drew Baumier
Product: Drive Suits
Requesting: $150k for 20% stake
Drew entered the tank with 3 other colleagues all in full body automated body suits similar to the Transformers. The company called Body Suits is a unique costume concept with powered wheels that are worn on legs and arms. A single hand control is what triggers the motion of the Body Suit. Drew mentioned that he simple wanted to create a new way of getting around and after making a prototype, he had won various prizes in costume contests (totaling $35k in income). Aside from the contests, he does not have any sales history. His provisional patent had expired and the concept was currently not protected with a patent. Rather immediately three of the sharks dropped out (Robert, Barbara and Daymond). Kevin stressed that Drew really needed to partner with a toy company that could package the product into a smaller footprint and drive down the costs. Kevin extended an counter-offer for $150k for 30% stake (contingent on the toy company partnership). Mark Cuban then jumped in with an offer of $150k for 40% stake with the purpose of being the bank for Drew and guaranteeing money without any contingencies. After some thought Drew chose Kevin.
Feedback: I thought the product idea is one that could definitely attract the younger generation but, this would be dependent on the retail price of course. What surprised me was that neither Mark or Kevin had much of an issue with the lack of patent protection. I did really like that Drew said he essentially created the prototypes himself with little expertise. I always appreciate seeing the true innovators bring such ingenuity to the table. Ultimately he got a Shark to bite and is on his way to fulfilling his dreams of begin a successful Inventor. Congratulations.
Inventor: David Cox
Product / Service: PC Classes Online
Requesting: $150k for 15% stake
David walked into the tank with comedy writer Bruce Vilanch as his guest presenter. On the table in front of the sharks was a display with a couple of laptop computers and a flatscreen display with the company logo for PC Classes Online. David began to frame a story about how so many people (elderly especially) struggled with computer literacy. His company would be providing on-demand classes for computer training for all types of programs and systems. Behind the scenes would be experienced Instructors that would teach (for free) the topics of choice. The Instructors would make their money when they signed up the student for one-on-one lessons of which PC Classes Online would take 30%. The monthly cost for membership would be $99/month. When asked how he would market this concept he responded saying by partnering with retailers and computer vendors that would be charged $49 for the service (making $50 in profit each month on referrals). He said that to date he has 115 members signed up totaling $35k over a 6 month period of time. Almost immediately, Kevin, Barbara and Daymond dropped out after there appeared to be very little valuation considering David thought the company was worth $1 million with only $35k in sales. Kevin was a little rough on David for knowing the difference between bundling and up-selling. Mark being the IT expert on the panel questioned that what he was pushing has been developed for over 2 decades, he was out. Last but more of a formality Robert also dropped.
Feedback: This one is though for me because while it could very well be a solid company in a local market with a personal approach to training, David truly was replicating what was already on the market (see www.videoprofessor.com for example). Services are very difficult for people to buy into as they are hard to claim as proprietary.
Inventor: Bill Lyons
Product / Service: Revestor
Requesting: $250 for 10% stake
Bill entered with the room and approached the display table with a company logo banner and three home placards between silver food domes. His pitch was around there not being a single source for evaluating a real estate transaction for its profitability. Revestor claims to have a proprietary algorithm that helps find and assess various MLS and foreclosure listings to determine whether the property is a good buy or not. When asked specifically what figures the algorithm looks at, Bill struggled to explain the details to the Sharks. Bill at times was a bit defensive even saying that he started a $20 million financial services company that went broke during the crash. His software is in beta mode in 10 cities but with no revenue yet. Barbara who has a solid real estate background asked is the software for the seasoned shark investor or the newlywed couple. Bill replied “both”. In almost rapid succession all sharks dropped out and Bill was sent leaving empty-handed.
Feedback: I don’t know if there is more to the story that what was shown on TV but it seems that either Bill didn’t know all aspects of the business or was somewhat protective of the details but, the presentation did not go very well. The fact that he was expecting people to pay nearly double what other sites charge seems a bit steep. He was confident that the company would be a multi-million dollar company in a few years similar to Zillow. The idea of having some upper hand against the competition when it comes to real estate investing is ideal but, it is hard to prove. Needs some more work.
Inventors: Beth Vines-Haynes and Charlotte Clary
Product: Ice Chips
Requesting: $250k for 15% stake
Talk about saving the best for last. These two grandmothers of 30+ grandchildren started the company a couple of years ago in order to create a sugar-free candy that was not harmful to the teeth. The answer was Xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener that dentist recommend because it cannot grow bacteria, meaning less damage to the teeth. From the video documentary of the production facility (at their home) they appeared to be very experienced with solid demand already. In fact, according to Beth and Charlotte they made $320k last year and $342k year to date (considering the show was filmed in the summer that would be roughly $700k in annual revs). Not bad! Apparently, Xylitol candy is normally pressed into molded cavities because it is very brittle to try and form cold. the ladies were able to solve this by simply breaking the candy sheets into small Ice Chips. The unique shape led to the name of course. When asked what they need the money for they responded “to buy equipment to drive down production costs and enable them to enter the large retail markets”. Currently the candy tins are made for $1.11 each and sold wholesale for $3.12 or $5.00 retail. They would like the costs to be down around $0.77. Barbara was first to jump in with an offer of $125k for 33% with another shark matching the offer. Kevin then said he would pay the other portion of Barbara’s offer if they each claimed 20%. Daymond said would instead offer $250k for 30% without another Shark involved. Robert was out. Daymond then said he would join Kevin for a $250k – 35% stake. Daymond must have had an moment of enlightenment because he immediately decided to go solo for $250k and 25%. Finally, Mark and Barbara said they would join forces for a $125k and 20% / person and the ladies agreed.
Feedback: Not only were the two grandmothers extremely professional and knowledgable but, they came across highly credible and with a proven track record which in this business goes a long way. It was a joy to watch them explain their business as the sharks all showed some interest. The product is also in a highly desirable segment (sugar-free candy) and has a unique shape which is very much a novelty. I feel like this is definitely something we will see on store shelves or in the check out aisle of our local grocery store. Lessons learned from this case: build some track record with revenue before approaching investors, know the product in and out and be prepared to defend against the those who want to pick it apart.
Thanks everyone for reading this weeks post. Stay tuned for weekly reviews of Shark Tank.
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