Parker's Syrup Can't Lose On Shark Tank
Or can it? But at least delicious maple spread has some greater use in the wider world, unlike some other products in this episode.
Apart from the occasional shows built around kid entrepreneurs or products wrapped in the flag, Shark Tank episodes are rarely constructed around a theme. But every once in a while, a leitmotif emerges. This week's: First World Problems.
All of the pitches in this episode are basically for products that don't solve real problems, have cheaper or more effective competition elsewhere, and would be first out the door the minute someone in the house decides to declutter. As such, the Sharks are testy -- with each other, with each of the would-be moguls pushing products that are best described as, "I got annoyed and now I want to profit off my peevishness."
But which product is the least extravagantly useless? Let's rank the from worst to first.
SiliDog is devoted to solving what qualifies as the most first-world of all first-world problems addressed in this episode: the jingling noise that pet tags make on the collar. Robert Herjavec wants to know how silicone pet tags are inherently superior to the non-jingling plastic pet tags that also exist; apparently, silicone tags don't fade like plastic tags do. Not explored in this pitch: Whether there is any sort of pet tag that can withstand the depredations of a determined, insane orange tabby cat.
Anyway, the company's done a little over $140,000 in sales over the past 14 months, so that sort of sales growth lets Robert nod approvingly, but you know he's just dying for a chance to play with the dog Mikey Lickstein has brought along to pitch his company. Robert's also dying for a 50 percent stake of the company. Mikey counters with $100,000 for a 25 percent stake, but Robert's not having it.
Barbara Corcoran slides in then with an offer that seems very Kevin O'Leary-like: $100,000 for a 30 percent stake and $2 per tag on every tag. This prompts Kevin to make a similar offer, only with 75 cents. Lori undercuts that offer with $100,000 for a 30 percent stake and a 50-cent royalty for each tag. And that's how Lori ends up with her first silicone-related product of the night, though certainly not her last.
3. Sandilake Clothing
Sandilake Clothing founder Melissa Lay claims that restrictively gendered clothing is a pressing issue for parents. Which...it depends on where you shop, really. Flipping through the racks at Target, yeah, it's stereotype-promoting t-shirts all the way down. But otherwise, it's really not that hard. Lay's hometown of Portland, Oregon, happens to be where Hanna Andersson is headquartered, and that's one clothing brand that has managed to pull together plenty of gender-neutral clothing in addition to its floral and/or shark motif clothing. Also, there's a rising e-commerce brand called Primary.com that produces well-made, adornment-free basics like tunics, leggings, tees, cargo pants, etc., and every item is under $25. Also also, there's Etsy.com for people who desperately need to broadcast their alterna-parent status via their children's t-shirts. But please...don't let me interrupt your pitch.
Lay thinks her company is worth $1 million, despite only $340,000 in sales over SandiLake's two years of operation and only 20 percent of those sales have happening in 2016. It's no Primary.com -- that company recently raised $8 million in Series A funding after 18 months of operation and claims a 25 percent return-customer rate -- and the steep decline in sales growth bores and irritates Kevin so he's out early. Neither Mark Cuban nor Robert are impressed with the lack of marketing plans, so they're out too.
Barbara offers $100K for a 40 percent stake and that's only if half of her stake goes to Grace and Lace, the boot sock company she's always bringing up. Barbara's deal makes sense from a marketing standpoint; Grace and Lace has a really strong social media game, and Barbara wants Melissa to learn at the feet of the lacy boot-sock people. Although Lay's aesthetic could not be more different than the Grace and Lace people, the stake means Grace and Lace is motivated to figure out how to work some social media mojo for the hipster t-shirt company.
But the minute Lay says she wants to hear Lori Greiner's offer, Barbara withdraws her deal. And Lori's all, "You don't need an offer from me. What you need to do is keep growing it slowly. And here are some more vaguely empowering affirmations from me, because...I'm receiving psychic transmissions from Oprah? Whatever, my life's not changing because of your decision."
Anyway, if you want some vaguely outdoorsy looking kids' t-shirts with arrows on them that cost $22, you know where to go.
This entire business is based around the premise that keeping a silicone mat in your microwave is something you will constantly remember to do, and something you need. Anyway, this thing has many, many uses, for wildly flexible definitions of "use," and because it's precisely the kind of crap you end up panic-buying as a stocking stuffer on December 24, Lori's on it.
The catch: Lori wants 30 percent of Cyndi Lee's company instead of 12 percent. Working in Lori's favor: She is the only offer on the table. Lee counters with 17 percent because she's got the skills to pay the bills, and Lori counters that with 25 percent. After an unsuccessful counter-counter-offer, Cyndi finally agrees to the 25 percent deal, visions of being placed in Bed, Bath and Beyond just in time for all that holiday panic-shopping dancing in her head.
One hopes Lee's next business will be aimed at how to get rid of your giant, rubbery circle in an environmentally responsible way.
1. Parker's Real Maple
Young Joshua Parker really has a thing for maple syrup. I mean, he really likes it. He's obsessed with maple everything -- syrup, cotton candy, butter. The contingent of Sharks that lives north of the 49th parallel is in the tank for this one: Robert is a fan of the maple butter. And as it turns out, Kevin's Canadian background has well equipped him in the lore of maple-syrup manufacturing, so he is into this, too.
Although Parker's valuing his company as a million-dollar concern, he's logged only $360,000 in sales since the beginning of the company. He claims that by year's end, Parker's Real Maple will break $1.5 million in sales. This causes Mark -- previously indifferent to quaffing the sweet, sweet blood of trees for fun -- to sit up and start paying attention. What's in this syrup, Barbara wants to know, because whatever it is, she's not getting it. The answer: some skilled marketing. "Maple syrup is kind of a commodity product, so it's really the brand around that commodity and that product..."
Except the real answer is, Costco's taking a flier on the maple butter and just put in a $100,000 order. Everyone's excited about this until Parker reveals that his margins on the $11.50 jar of maple butter are terrible. They're also taken aback by the fact that he's carrying about $300,000 in debt and his $1.5 million in sales is basically him being wildly optimistic about how the shoppers of Costco will embrace $11.50 jars of maple spread. All of the Sharks decline to make any deal.
However, maple spread would be nice to have on hand for those of us who are tired of Nutella, so this product is marginally more useful than the others on this show. It wins! It wins!
Now who's going to spend $12 buying me maple butter?