Pavlov's Dog Of A Product Ends Shark Tank's Season
Season 7 ends like so many of the 28 episodes that preceded it, with a guy who's got no business being on the show wasting everybody's time.
You know, it's not the destination, but the journey. And Season 7 of Shark Tank, you've given us quite the hero's journey, as we've progressed through early episodes of unmemorable people getting money for unremarkable products to this final installment in which more unmemorable people get money for unremarkable products. My God, what a twist!
And along the way, such memories, as the season-capping Shark Tank flashback segment reminded us. Like that time people willing agreed to let Kevin O'Leary preside over their wedding. Or when Daymond John enslaved celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito -- more like Rocco Dispirited, you guys -- and forced him to whip up some hash for all his Shark Tank buddies. Or Robert and his questionable off-hours bread and haircut habits. And I shall never forget you, Tipsy Elves, because this show seems determined to ensure that I won't.
But that's yesterday. What about the Right Now? Let's take a valedictory lap around this year by ranking the final episode's pitches on how they best embodied the principles imbued in Season 7 -- a whole lot of meh, seasoned with just a hint of animus.
So Tomer Alpert has this app that removes the hassle of sending people handwritten notes by getting someone else to do it for you. How it works is, you scrawl something out on the touchscreen of your mobile device, and the folks at Felt will print it onto a card and mail it to whomever you were hoping to reach out and touch. Forgive the nervous tic noticeably spreading over my face, but my day job used to focused exclusively on the doings of a fruit-based company out of Cupertino that offered a similar product. That didn't go so well, so it's hardly surprising to me that Tomer's very motivated to make a deal.
Fortunately for Tomer, so is Kevin, who has that whole bridal portfolio he yammers on about every other episode. When Tomer mentions a desire to tap into the lucrative bridal business, Kevin's ears prick up -- not the first time "Kevin" and "prick" have been in such close proximity in a sentence, I'll wager -- as visions of a nice horizontal expansion go dancing through his head. Kevin offers $225,000 for 10 percent of the business -- an offer so generous that the other Sharks fall all over themselves to clear the field. There's a pause by Tomer for dramatic effect, but of course, he's going to take the deal because getting fair value from Kevin is like finding a rainbow-farting unicorn.
3. PMS Bites
Tania Green is here to pitch snack foods aimed at premenstrual women, and if you think I'm going to rattle that particular cage when I'm figuratively the cop who's just two days from retiring, you've got another thing coming.
Anyhow, Tania's snacks are a veritable roll call of food products you find on Shark Tank these days. All-natural? Check. Vegan? Check. Gluten-free? You are new around here, aren't you? Also, she adds herbs that people commonly take for symptoms like bloating, cramping, or irritability. "Why would I not just eat a bag of Fritos?" my wife demands upon hearing this pitch, and herein, we have the explanation for PMS Bites' meager to-date sales of a little more than $13,000 in just over two months.
Though 90 percent of women may suffer one or more of the 150 symptoms of PMS by Tania's reckoning, both Lori Greiner and Kevin figure that still leaves 50 percent of the population that are not going to buy a product called PMS Bites. Barbara Corcoran and Robert are also disinterested given the small scale of the business. Mark Cuban seems mildly intrigued right up until the point Tania says that she's chosen to focus on retail rather than internet sales. That's not exactly music to the ears of the guy who put radio on the internet. There's no deal for Tania.
Pete & Pedro Alpha M
Do you remember Aaron Marino from Season 4 of Shark Tank? Well, then you are one step ahead of me because he slipped right off my brain pan. Anyhow, at the time, he pitched an overpriced fashion formula that went over like temperance on a troop ship. He bombed, not just with the Sharks but with the general public as well. And that at least taught him the lesson of having a more reasonably priced product.
In this case, Aaron has a men's hair styling product that generates about $55,000 in monthly revenue currently, with sales growing at a 15 percent clip each month. The secret to Aaron's success? YouTube, where he's built an audience of 600,000 followers and where he does a more-than-brisk side business as an "online influencer" talking up assorted products.
Ugh. Guys spouting off their opinions online. Is there anything worse? [Avoids looking in the mirror for the next three months.]
Anyhow, the Sharks are intrigued, but not by the hair-product business. Rather, they want to know why Aaron is keeping his lucrative $600,000 revenue stream as an influencer separate from his proposed $100,000-for-a-10-percent stake deal in the hair-care business. The answer is kind of evident from the question, isn't it? Nevertheless, Kevin proposes a $100,000 offer where he gets 20 percent of both the hair-care and influencer businesses. Robert matches that offer, while Barbara bids $100,000 for just 10 percent of the Alpha M influencer business. I mean, can you do that? Bid on something the guy didn't even bring into Shark Tank as a proposal?
PRESENTER: And so, Sharks, that's why you should give me $150,000 for 15 percent of my fur-bearing trout business.
CUBAN: You've got nice pants. I'll give you half a million for them.
We'll cut to the chase here. Aaron correctly thinks the offers from Kevin and Robert ask for too much equity, while Robert's counteroffer would essentially turn Aaron into a shill for whatever Robert deems is worth promoting. Aaron asks if Barbara's original offer is still on the table. It is, and he wisely accepts it.
What if I told you there was a wearable product that could deliver an unpleasant shock to you every time you engaged in bad behavior? "Quit pitching me your derivative Stephen King knock-offs," you'd sneer. Well, how wrong you'd be, because that's essentially what Maneesh Sethi is selling with his Pavlok wearables. He wants $500,000 for a 3.14 percent stake because weirdo math is fun.
Maneesh's product is based on aversive conditioning in which you train your brain to associate an unpleasant stimulus -- like a shock delivered to your wrist from a product you willingly wear -- with a bad habit you want to stop doing. There's plenty of research to suggest that aversive conditioning works; alas, none of it is specific to Maneesh's product, which really gets Mark Cuban's goat. I know I have a tendency to give Mark a pretty rough time since he's one anti-government rant away from turning Shark Tank into The Ayn Rand Playhouse Of The Individual, but his complaints about Maneesh selling snake oil seem pretty on-point to this observer.
The other Sharks are more put off by either the lack of clinical trials -- Maneesh says he'd love to do them -- or the fact that the company's $16 million valuation hinges entirely on pre-sales. Barbara thinks the pitch is exhausting, Robert hates the valuation, and Lori rates the product as a "nowhere near-o" on her "hero-to-zero" grading scale. That last one should sting in particular.
Kevin is interested, if only for his undergraduate work in clinical psychology. He proposes a complex royalty deal, which I'd break down, except for the fact that Maneesh rejects it out of hand because he does not want to do business with Kevin. On the one hand, credit to Maneesh for articulating what so many Shark Tank participants would like to say but don't. On the other hand, Kevin responds with a series of curses so virulent I was unaware you could say them on network TV. Maneesh walks away without a deal rather than having to work with Kevin, and I can think of no more appropriate note on which this season of Shark Tank should end.