Kelsey McNeal / ABC

Are The Shark Tank Sharks Stuck Inside A Bubble?

Philip Michaels would never suggest the Sharks are throwing good money after bad, but someone who makes wine for cats just walked away with a deal.

I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say that we've seen some pretty wackadoodle things happening on a fairly regular basis over the last few months. Old norms have been discarded. The bar for accepted standards of behavior has fallen so low, you'd need a deep dive into the Marianas Trench just to find it. And yet, through it all, I think the most bizarre "This Is Not Normal" moment I may have had in recent months occurred on this episode of Shark Tank where I watched two grown men engage in a bidding war over cat wine.

That's wine made for cats and not wine made out of cats, by the way. I mean, both would be pretty weird in their own way.

But was cat wine the most useless product to appear on Shark Tank in this return episode after a March hiatus? Yes. Yes, it was. I realize the value in teasing things out, but you tell me that you've created wine for cats, and my reaction is going to be: Dude, that's pretty useless. But just for the sake of argument, let's rank this episode's Shark Tank pitches on a scale of things that are actually useful (that is, they are most decidedly not cat wine) and things that are a sign you may have too much time and/or money on your hands (the aforementioned cat wine). The rankings might just surprise you, at least if you've been hitting the cat wine a little hard lately.

4. Under The Weather

Rick Pescovitz says his product can revolutionize the outdoor spectator experience, sparing sports fans the indignities of the wind and the rain. Immediately, my ears perked up, as several years ago, I attended a Cal football game that was played during a steady downpour. It was a miserable experience -- it did involve Cal football, after all -- made all the more terrible by the fact that my clothes absorbed enough rain water to end all droughts. Ever since then, when I go to games when there's even a hint of bad weather, I don so much protective gear I become more poncho than man.

Alas, Rick's invention wouldn't help me, as it's aimed a parents who go to their kids' weekend soccer, football and Little League games. Still, it's pretty handy -- basically, Rick has created your own compact yurt where you can shield yourself from the unforgiving wind, rain, and sun that threatens to beat down on you as you watch your child's fruitless efforts to win athletic glory. But don't take my word for it: Rick tallied $2 million in sales last year, with minimal advertising so you can see why he might want $600,000 for 10 percent of his business.

In fact, the only Shark to say one bad word about Rick's proposal is Robert Herjavec, who merely points out that Rick is successful enough not to need a Shark, allowing him to keep all that equity to himself. Daymond John, however, has different plans, proposing a $600,000 investment for 20 percent of the business. That sounds good to Kevin O'Leary, who makes the exact same bid. But before we get a Shark Tank bidding war, Rick tips his hand by wondering if maybe Mark Cuban would like to present an offer: Mark would, in the form of $600,000 for 15 percent, plus the option to buy another 10 percent for $600,000 more in the next 12 months. That sounds good enough to Rick, who clearly wanted to do business with Mark all along.

Michael Desmond / ABC

3. SeedSheet

Gardening, man -- it's complicated, especially for millennials, who when handed some seeds and a pile of dirt, apparently are reduced to screaming "What do I do? WHAT DO I DO?" That was the spirit behind Edn Wallgarden a few episodes back, and it's apparently the motivator for SeedSheet, with the main difference being that SeedSheet actually sounds useful. You buy a SeedSheet starter kit, which features a pod of soil and seed attached to a weed-proof sheet you lay over your planter. Add water, and the pouch dissolves, spreading your seed (yeah, I know how that sounds) to maximize the growth potential of your plant, herb, or vegetable.

This is the brainchild of Cam Mackugler, whose biggest problem to date is that he's sold a mere $156,000 worth of product over the last 20 months. Even though that time frame constitutes a single growing season, the lack of sales don't seem to justify the $500,000-for-10-percent deal that Cam is looking to score. And early prospects are not good as Daymond and Robert both drop out.

Lori Greiner is interested, however, as she sees a potential market on QVC. She immediately bids $500,000 for 22 percent. Just as immediately, Kevin undercuts her by asking for only 15 percent. It is hard to tell whether Kevin is making this offer because he truly believes in SeedSheet or if he's just trying to mess with Lori's head, though his willingness to cut the offer to a 12.5 percent stake when Mark suggests he may want to come in on Lori's deal suggests the latter.

Eventually, Lori's willing to take 20 percent of the business -- without Mark's involvement, thank you very much -- and when faced with the possibility of having Lori or Kevin as a business partner, Cam makes the sensible decision. Lori gets the nod, and Kevin gets the shaft, which is how it should be.


2. Cropsticks

Mylen Yamamoto seems like a very nice person who is trying to solve a problem that troubles just about no one -- the heartbreak of how to keep your chopsticks propped up so that they're not touching the table. Mylen's solution is to put a snap-off tip on the top of each chopstick that can double as a resting place for the chopsticks, which Mylen is making out of bamboo instead of wood in a nod to environmental friendliness.

Here is the issue: Mylen's Cropsticks are not comparably priced to the wooden chopsticks restaurants and distributors already use. So, as Kevin points out, she's unlikely to win new business from restaurants, who won't be all that eager to pay more than what they're already paying for utensils.

And that seems to shut down any bidding right there, as no Shark seems particularly interested in parting with $75,000 for 12.5 percent of Cropsticks. They're all very complimentary of Mylen -- Lori praises her for building a better mousetrap, for example, but I notice that praise didn't exactly come with an oversized novelty check. Anyhow, there's no deal, so you're going to wind up propping up your chopsticks as you currently do, you filthy savage.


1. Apollo Peak

I...I just don't know about this planet anymore, man.

Brandon Zavala has invented a wine for cats. It's not really wine, in the sense that it contains alcohol, but rather it's a catnip-imbued mixture that's aimed at making your cat act like he's been shotgunning cabernet. The wines have silly names like Pinot Meow and Mos-cat-o and why is the right side of my facing twitching? Probably because Brandon has scored $192,000 in sales over three months, and Christ, do you people have more money than you know what to do with.

It's a ridiculous idea, the notion that you'd expect people to pay $11.95 for an 8-ounce bottle of stupid juice. Good Lord, even the demo cat that Brandon has selected to show off the wine wants nothing to do with the stuff, taking greater pleasure in cuddling with Robert. It's Robert, in fact, who sensibly calls this the "pet rock of the pet food business," and he's not wrong.

So naturally, Kevin wants in. He'll pay the $100,000 Brandon wants, but in exchange for a third of the business as opposed to the 10 percent Brandon planned on parting with. Before we can weigh the merits of Kevin's offer -- there are no merits to any of this, period -- Daymond has one of his own: $100,000 for 25 percent. Eventually, Brandon talks both down to 20 percent, triggering a debate between two highly successful businessmen as to which is the better positioned to sell wine to cats. I mean, just in case you thought you had a bad week.

Brandon ultimately decides that Kevin is the better choice here, so...congratulations, Kevin? No. "Congratulations" isn't really the right thing to say when someone thinks "You look like the sort of man who has the right ideas about distributing cat wine." Maybe "Well, that's something you just did, Kevin" instead.

Readers liked this episode
What did you think?


Explore the Shark Tank forum or add a comment below.