Every Girl's Crazy 'Bout A Shark-Dressed Man
Which is why they will most certainly not be crazy about the sight of the Sharks wearing garish stick-on lapels. Instead, let's save our admiration for one of the cleverest people to ever pitch a product on this show.
I didn't get into this much in the season premiere recap, but the producers' ideas on how to keep things fresh in the eighth season of Shark Tank seem lacking in ambition. Last week's six-Shark scrum appears to be confined to that one episode -- thankfully -- but otherwise, the changes appear mostly to be cosmetic. "You, Daymond! Grow some hair!" "You, Robert! Dye your hair!" "And Lori, that blue dress you always wear...well, other colors are equally valid, you know?"
Me, I'd like to see better use of graphics. Have a ticker showing the current offers, or let us know just precisely how badly the Sharks have torpedoed some poor entrepreneur's valuation. That would be interesting, whereas shots of some paleo-diet-touting muscleman doing push-ups in the waiting room while a stage manager counts down the five seconds before the stage door swings open...well, I'm not sure what that adds to the telecast.
Ah, but I'm being churlish, especially on a night which introduced us to the heroic ideal of a Shark Tank contestant. She had a solid product, a good pitch, and she bent the Sharks to her will. If there were more like her, I'd stop doing these recaps and retire to my tent to sulk like Achilles. Fortunately for me, not all Shark Tank participants are this well-prepared, as this very episode proves. So let us start our countdown for this episode with my very favorite person to ever appear on Shark Tank and work our way toward the usual parade of dubious supplicants that appear on this program.
Oh, God bless you, Leslie Pierson. God bless you for having a product that's actually useful. (It's a magnetic adhesive that lets you hang pictures and posters on just about any type of wall, even brick or concrete, without having to fire up the ol' drill.) God bless you for having nailed down your numbers ($450,000 worth of sales in a year, with a detailed breakdown of just how much of that came from QVC versus other sources.) And God bless you most of all for making the Sharks eat out of your hand.
Leslie is one of the few people who can articulate why she wants to do business with one of the Sharks. For her, it's all about grabbing a strategic partner who can get her into more retail stores, whereas for most people, the impetus to appear on Shark Tank seems to be, "Is this where Mark Cuban's handing out the monies?" She also takes criticism about her packaging gracefully. She can have all my money if she wants it.
But what need will she have of the $1.75 in change that I have on me at present when the offers from the Sharks start rolling in fast and furious. Lori Greiner starts the bidding at $100,000 for 20 percent -- bigger than the 10 percent stake Leslie wanted to give up -- and Daymond John and Kevin O'Leary make offers of their own. I'm particularly enamored of Kevin's offer ($100,000 for 10 percent or exactly what Leslie wanted) since he makes it only to drive down Lori's negotiating power. And you know what? It works. Leslie is soon making a savvy counteroffer where Lori loans her $100,000 for a 10 percent stake that becomes 20 percent if Leslie doesn't pay her back in a year. That's a counter from someone who knows precisely the kind of deals that get made on Shark Tank.
My favorite non-Leslie part of this segment may have been the moment where Kevin points out that he knows the CEO of Staples, and all the other Sharks respond as one that they all know the head of Staples. Jesus, Kevin, who doesn't? What are we -- day laborers?
3. TactiBite Fish Call
Jack Danos continues the lamentable trend of Shark Tank Season 8 featuring teenagers who are more accomplished than you and me. Along with his dad Jeff, Jack has developed a fishing lure that emits the kind of sounds to make predator and game fish think there's helpless prey nearby. They swim toward the sound, you yank them out of the water with a fishing pole and the next thing you know, you're on your way to a lovely fish entrée with a surprisingly piquant pan sauce.
The Sharks like the $330,000 the Danos boys have racked up in sales, especially since a $99 product costs $16 to bring to market. So it will not surprise you that Jack and Jeff are awash in offers, some of them markedly better than the $150,000 for 20 percent that Kevin wants to part with. Daymond makes the same offer, but it should be noted that he's an avid fisherman and this product is right up his alley. Lori tries to lowball those two with a $150,000-for-15-percent pitch that relies heavily on her infomercial expertise. Meanwhile, Robert Herjavec pledges exactly what the Danos family wanted -- $150,000 for 10 percent -- and they snap it right up, again ignoring Daymond's passion for this particular area. Ah, well, I'm sure Robert could at least identify a fish if you gave him three cracks at it.
One other note about this segment: It's accompanied by a soft-focus feature story on the Danos family business, with a shot of Jeff and Jack catching a gar with the TactiBite Fish Call and then releasing it. That's probably mandated by local law, but the whole catch-and-release approach to fishing has always struck me as needlessly cruel. "Yes, Scaley, we may have yanked you out of your watery habitat only to pose with you and poke your writhing carcass. But now you can return to the watery deep -- BE FREE AND GOOD LUCK EVER LEARNING TO TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS AGAIN."
2. Ice Age Meals
It's clear the instant Shark Tank introduces Nick Massie that he's not going to get an offer on his ready-to-eat frozen paleo-diet meal business. For starters, the strings of whimsy start plucking the moment he wanders onto set, Shark Tank's preliminary way of saying "Do Not Take This Person Seriously." Secondly, Nick does a lot of whooping and hollering, which only Robert joins in on, furthering my theory that Robert is probably just a golden retriever hiding inside a human suit. Finally, Nick kicks off his presentation by reading a poem, and not just any poem, but a tepid piece of doggerel about the merits of the paleo diet. I hope I'm not alone in hoping that when Nick said he wanted to read a poem, he would spend the next 20 minutes reciting "Howl" while the Sharks fidgeted in their chairs.
Nick's biggest problem is that he's seen the best Shark Tank pitches of his generation destroyed by madness, or at the very least, poor valuations. Nick's $1 million-for-10-percent request suggests that he thinks Ice Age Meals is worth a cool $10 million at present. Turns out that number is largely driven by ongoing negotiations with the CrossFit people, which Nick is treating like a done deal. The Sharks disabuse him of this notion, with Kevin, Robert, and Daymond reading poems of their own to express their profound disinterest in investing with Nick. ("Roses are red/I am black/your valuation was whack," says Daymond, all but confirming that he is working on his own version of "The Wasteland.") Lori and Mark also drop out with less poetic fanfare, and so Nick's dreams of getting a deal are stashed in the deep freeze.
1. The Lapel Project
I will confess to some personal bias about the idea behind the business Sebastian Garcia and Raul Bernal are here to pitch. They've developed a way to turn an ordinary suit coat into a tuxedo jacket with what is essentially a Lee Press-On Nails approach: You paste one of their adhesive designs onto the lapel of your suit jacket, and voila, you've got yourself a dinner jacket. Instead of having to buy or rent a tux, then, you spend $49 to $100 on a paste-on lapel you can use multiple times.
I hate this idea, and not just because the faux lapels look, to my eye, tacky and cheap. I don't pretend to be much of a clothes hound or, indeed, the kind of a person who cuts a dashing figure. But put me in a tuxedo, and I look like a spy. I imagine a lot of other people undergo a similar transformation. And a silly stick-um lapel business is only going to deprive schlubby folks like myself of our one true chance to dress like we're starring in Casino Royale.
You know who's not put off by this idea is Mark Cuban. "What guy out there is going to put this on and go to a formal event?" a dubious Robert Herjavec wonders. "Me," Mark declares enthusiastically, suggesting that Mark would probably walk around wearing a gunny sack if he thought he could get away with it. He immediately offers the $150,000 Sebastian and Raul want, but Mark demands 30 percent of the company instead of their preferred 20 percent. Sebastian and Raul hope to solicit other offers, but when Daymond and Lori drop out -- the two Sharks most likely to buy what they're selling -- they correctly read the temperature of the room and jump on Mark's bid. And that's how an entire generation of prom-goers wound up using duct tape to fancy up their suit-jacket lapels.