Shark Tank Sees The Light At The End Of The Toilet
Toilet lights, pepperoni-colored pajamas, cardboard cutout cats riding mechanical magic carpets -- you know, fairly run-of-the-mill stuff for our Shark Tank friends.
You're not there yet. You're a product, not a business. Not an area I'm passionate about. Venture debt deal.
There: I've just called the winning squares in Shark Tank bingo and summarized tonight's episode. You're welcome.
...No? You need a few more details? Fine. Let's run down tonight's Shark Tank participants by ranking which Shark got the best deal -- even in instances where the best deal was no deal at all.
4. Beloved Shirts
If there's one thing Jeremiah Robison can't tolerate, it's boring clothing that fails to stand out from the crowd. So he's decided to clothe the world in apparel that looks like it's covered in unicorn vomit. I am not saying this to be cruel: I believe one of the shirts on display literally featured a vomiting unicorn. Then again, Jeremiah tallied $2.3 million in sales last year, so who's laughing now? Not the smug jerk recapping Shark Tank episodes, I can assure you.
Jeremiah makes 60 percent margins on his brain-warping clothing. That's good! And everything's made to order so he's not spending lots of money on inventory. Also good! But it takes him 30 days to turn around an order. That's...less than ideal! And as a result, his customer conversion rate hovers at around 1 percent. We've officially hit the opposite of good!
The Sharks add up the good and the bad and seem to decide that spending $175,000 for a 5 percent stake in Jeremiah's pepperoni-inspired clothing empire is not a ride they want to take. Well, all except for Daymond John, who sees an intriguing project if he can get a quarter of the company. After some half-hearted negotiation in which Daymond says he'll go no lower than 22.5%, Jeremiah pulls the plug since he doesn't want to give up that much equity. That seems like a mistake on Jeremiah's part, but again, I'm the guy without the pepperoni-influenced wardrobe so I'm out of my depth here. I do know that the Beloved Shirts-supplied pajama bottoms festooned with Kevin O'Leary's face combined with the shirt featuring many smiling Lori Greniers is the perfect outfit to wear to your next waking nightmare, however.
I'll be honest: I thought we, as a society, had pretty much perfected the toilet. But between the Squatty Potty and the angry toilet seat man who sent me a pissy email when I failed to appreciate his genius, Shark Tank has convinced me I am woefully ignorant about just how far toilet technology has to go. Matt Alexander and Mike Kannelly can now join this proud pantheon of potty innovators with Illumibowl, the light you attach to the side of your toilet. With Illumibowl to guide your path, you won't have to flip on any lights to heed that post-midnight call of nature. So the only thing keeping you up at night will be the grim realization that you've spent $20 on a toilet night light.
Matt and Mike have booked $100,000 in sales for the Illumibowl via Kickstarter, and that's convinced them that a Shark should be willing to hand over $100,000 for 15 percent of the business. How exactly they will fuel that growth remains to be seen, though there's talk of future versions of Illumibowl projecting images since what America really has been crying out for is to have the Disneyland Fantasmic light show recreated in its toilet bowls. Kevin O'Leary's willing to pay $100,000 for 25 percent of the company and since everyone else is dropping out for various reasons -- Mark Cuban thinks it's a novelty, Lori has the whole Squatty Potty business for cornering the burgeoning toilet market, Daymond thinks the business doesn't need a Shark to guide it -- Matt and Mike agree to Kevin's terms. "When you think of flushing away stuff, Kevin's your guy," Robert Herjavec tells them, and he's probably not wrong.
2. Mob Craft Beer
Let's take the preciousness of craft beer and merge it with the indiscriminate id of crowd-sourcing. What you'll wind up with is Mob Craft Beer, in which you the people decide on what range of flavors this beer will offer. Coffee? Vanilla wafer? Grapefruit? ALL THREE?
Oh, it's not as bad as all that. To get a flavor through Mob Craft Beer, it's first vetted by the brewmaster and you have to be willing to put up at least $25 to preorder your beer before your idea is subject to the wisdom of crowds. That ensures no one gums up the works with an intentionally bad flavors, though you wouldn't know that by the way the Sharks start retching over the two sour beers on their sampler platter. Bet the sight of every Shark but Robert making the Keystone Bitter Beer Face on national TV has Mob Craft's Henry Schwartz rethinking the last two beers he included in the tasting flight.
Still, the big problem with Mob Craft is not the beer itself, but just that the Sharks are profoundly disinterested in beer. "I'm not a beer guy," Robert says. "I don't know enough about beer," Lori adds. "I hate beer," Daymond insists. "I love beer," Mark Cuban counters. "But I'm Bud Light." So you don't really love beer, Mark.
Kevin would invest in Mob Craft, but he's not particularly enamored with the company's decisions to buy its own costly brewery or to expand into retail distribution. Since Henry thinks both of those ideas are quite good ones, it looks like there'll be no deal, which is probably best for everyone concerned.
1. Innovation Pet
Look, I'm sure Victoria Coopman and Tim Taft have built some really good products for cats and dogs and even chickens. The menagerie of animals they've brought along to Shark Tank certainly seem pleased. But if you call your company Innovation Pet, I'm expecting to see innovation beyond mashing together cat toys with climbing poles and scratching pads and calling it the Magical Kitty Connection. Again, the cats seem pleased with it, but it's not like you've discovered fire. "Really cool," Robert says of a doghouse whose primary feature seems to be that it's designed slightly askew, which is when I realize that words like "cool" no longer have any meaning.
At least, we're treated to another chapter in the saga of Daymond John, Friend To All Animals. After previously learning that Daymond is amassing an army of bees ready to do his bidding, we now discover that he also keeps a legion of guineafowl. If this is part of a plan to collect two animals of every kind, I suggest we invest in ark futures.
Anyhow, petty complaints about the company's name aside, the $2.5 million in sales that Innovation Pet pulls in suggests that it's innovative enough, thanks. What has the Sharks put off is the 5 percent equity stake on offer for a $250,000 investment, which isn't enough to stoke any excitement in a bid. Kevin tries to liven things up with a venture equity deal in which he'd get a 6 percent royalty on sales until his $250,000 investment has doubled; after that he'd happily accept that 5 percent equity stake. But before Victoria and Tim are doomed to settle for Kevin's terms, Daymond has an offer of his own. He'll take care of purchase orders and pay $250,000 in exchange for a 12.5 percent stake; plus, he's going to build an online business for Innovation Pet for a quarter of those sales. That's a tremendously good deal for everyone, and it takes Victoria and Tim roughly 20 seconds to agree to it.
Tough luck, Kevin. At least you've got your toilet light to bask in.