Barbara Corcoran Saves Everyone's Bacon On Shark Tank
For a while it looks like everyone's going to go home without even the hint of a deal. 'Not on my watch,' Barbara Corcoran growls, checkbook in hand.
Let's be brutally honest here: tonight's Shark Tank pitches were ho-hum at best. Honestly, if every would-be entrepreneur would have gone home empty-handed, would you have been that put out? I certainly wouldn't, and I'm a warm-hearted individual who wants everyone to succeed, unless you're some jerk making unnecessarily complex toilet seats. But this cast of characters asking the Sharks for money? I've heard more compelling arguments is all I'm saying.
And we might have had ourselves another shut-out had Barbara Corcoran not taken it upon herself to be the avenging angel of middling elevator pitches tonight. Barbara personally pulls one going-nowhere business proposition out of the fire, offers a lifeline to another who eventually turns down her wise counsel, and just generally spends the episode acting like a kind person hoping to pass down knowledge to others. I mean, what's your deal, Barbara? Who's the mark here?
Nevertheless, let's try and walk a mile in Barbara's doubtlessly sensible shoes, and count down tonight's assorted entries on the basis of who was most deserving of a Shark Tank bump and who fortells the ruin of capitalism while Barbara and chums sit there silently.
4. Grease Bags
Latangela Newsome is nothing but a big ol' ball of infectious energy, which makes her both delightful and terrifying. Latangela has created a compostable bag capable of holding all the grease from whenever you look at a dead slab of animal and mutter to no one in particular, "Deep-fry the son of a bitch." She's got a patent on her absorbent pad/bag combination, and while she may not be able to boast of any sales at this point, Latangela can at least point to crazy good margins once her product moves more boldly into the market.
There is just one problem with this, as spotted by me, a guy who fries everything he can before my doctors burst in and snatch the dredging bowl from my grease-stained hands. There is nothing Latangela is selling here that improves upon my current setup of pouring off cooking grease into whatever empty tin can I happen to have on hand. Oh, Latangela's bags are compostable and don't add to the landfill? You try telling that to my empty tin can, which can accept piping hot grease at temperatures that will reduce Latangela's bag to dissolved goo.
So I guess I'm not a fan, and truth be told, not many of the Sharks are either. Lori Greiner doesn't fry anything, so she's right out, and Kevin O'Leary and Barbara both enjoy bacon with the hot-off-the-pan grease that Latangela's bags aren't equipped to handle. Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec drop out too, and it looks like Latangela's going home without that $75,000 she wanted in exchange for 25 percent of the company. That's when Barbara returns from The Land Of I'm Out with a fresh offer: Latangela will have to sell the product for $6.99, and Barbara gets half of the company. Latangela takes the offer under the theory that 50 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing. And I'm glad for her, honestly; I shall think of her fondly every time I pour my cooking grease into an empty tin can.
Don't look at the toy building blocks Vladislav Smolyanskyy hopes to market and call them Legos. Seriously, don't -- Lego has an army of lawyers and they are very litigious. Besides, Vlad's blocks are colorful and bendable, and he's already got a design patent on them along with $160,000 in sales.
Vlad's problem is that he is in the toy business, which, as the Sharks tell him repeatedly, is a terrible place to be unless you can start showing up in major retail outlets. Kevin has a background in the toy business -- and seriously, the idea of Kevin as some sort of profit-motivated version of Kris Kringle always makes me chuckle -- and thinks he can help, to the tune of $100,000 for 30 percent of the company. That's contingent on Vlad partnering with a large toy company to help with marketing and distribution, which doesn't seem to suit Vlad very well, considering he was hoping to only give up 20 percent of the business.
You know what suits Vlad even less? That every other Shark drops out, mostly citing the horror that is the toy business. That leaves only Kevin, who decides to tinker with his deal: now, Vlad's going to give up 50 percent of the business to keep Kevin interested. That Vlad already has a partner with a 15 percent stake -- making Vlad a minority owner in his own company -- is hardly Kevin's concern. Anyhow, Vlad winds up taking Kevin's less-generous offer because at this point what choice does he have?
2. NicePipes Apparel
I confess to not really seeing the point to NicePipes, which apparently solves the problem of yoga practitioners who need leggings to stay warm for the long walk from the yoga studio to their car or other form of transit. I mean, kudos to Lisa Binderow for identifying an apparent need and managing to sell $80,000 worth of product in 18 months. Still, Lisa seems to think she's got a business that's worth $1 million on her hands, and boy, would the Sharks like to correct that misunderstanding.
Robert and Kevin hate the valuation and drop out. Mark thinks the business is a bad fit for him, and Lori's attitude seems to be, "Well, this seems to be a nice, little thing for you." That's Barbara's cue to swoop on in and nab herself a deal with someone who's just grateful to not be dismissed out of hand. Barbara would like to know why Lisa thinks this business should be worth $1 million, and Lisa concedes that she more or less plucked that number out of thin air so she wouldn't lowball herself.
Barbara apparently finds this "I don't really know what I'm doing here" strategy refreshing and offers Lisa the $100,000 she wants, though Barbara wants a 40 percent stake and not the 10 percent that Lisa was talking about. Oh, and Lisa has to swing a deal with Grace And Lace because it's been a few weeks since we've heard about what those cats are up to. At any rate, it's all moot, because Lisa asks Barbara to lower her stake to 25 percent and when Barbara sticks with 40 percent, Lisa pulls the plug on any deal. Anyhow, good for her. Too often on this show, we see people who are willing to take any scrap a Shark tosses their way, so it's good to see at least one entrepreneur willing to tell the Sharks to piss up a rope if only they could figure out how. The business still isn't worth $1 million, though.
1. Mama's Milk Box
The name of Elena Petzold's business sounds less like a mom-centric subscription service and more like a horrible slur, but really, that's the least of her worries. You, a nursing mother, pay Elena $29 a month, and Elena will send you, the aforementioned nursing mother, a collection of nursing and dressing tops. You keep the ones you want, and you'll get charged for them less that $29 fee; the other stuff you return.
My wife, who has actually nursed a baby in living memory, thinks this is a stupid idea. The problem, as my wife explains it to me using small words so that I can better understand, is not that you are bummed out because your maternity gear is unflattering, but rather because you are sleep-deprived and have another living creature demanding that you feed it every four to six hours. On top of these new terrifying demands on your time and mental energy, you're supposed to figure out how to return clothes you don't really want to buy?
Honestly, though, the problem here is not the premise of the business, but rather Elena's off-putting demeanor. More than one Shark tries to ask a question, only to have Elena start to talk over them before they can get three syllables deep into a sentence. Robert takes note of this, not in a particularly complimentary way, to which Elena reacts as if she's been given the highest of praise. "I am a character," she says, agreeing with something Robert did not say at all. "People like talking to me. I get it."
No. No, I don't think you do.
Anyhow, Elena tallied up $83,000 in sales last year and has already beaten that this year, so naturally, the Sharks should give her $200,000 for 20 percent. Barbara, who has decided she is out of the business of saving people from themselves, drops out; the other Sharks soon follow suit, citing some variation of "I am not particularly interested in doing business with you, but I have to say all that politely." Elena acknowledges the going-over she got from the Sharks by lying down on the carpet in the green room. At least she didn't try talking over the carpet first.