Shark Tank's Dark Tea Time Of The Soul
A lot of things can go wrong between coming up with an idea and getting someone to write a check for it, and tonight's pitches show just how many.
Perhaps this is the jet-lag of a transatlantic flight that had me in airports and on airplanes for 21 of the last 24 hours, but the products and services appearing on tonight's Shark Tank seemed to be suffering from a serious case of The Dumbs. Oh, I'm not implying that every product that appeared tonight was completely idiotic -- though don't get too cocky, cryo-sauna. What I mean is that somewhere along the way, someone took something that probably started as a half-decent idea and said, "Yes, but what if we were to try to self-sabotage ourselves?"
So let's countdown the Shark Tank participants in the order of who did most damage to their own cause than any withering riposte Kevin O'Leary could hope to inflict.
Katherine Krug doesn't have a bad idea for a product, though from the intricate instructions she has to give to the Sharks who want to try on the BetterBack harness that aims to improve your posture and eliminate back problems, it's not the easiest thing to strap on. And she can point to sales, even if they are from Kickstarter: $1.2 million accrued in a very short time period. No, Katherine's mistake is thinking those Kickstarter numbers are sustainable, as she's placed a $10 million valuation on her company.
Oh, how wrong she is to do so, based on how quickly Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban drop out. Robert Herjavec is willing to give Katherine the $750,000 she wants but only for 20 percent equity. Kevin thinks his time is worth 25 percent. That's Lori Grenier's cue to keep trying to make that "It's deal time!" catchphrase happen -- spoiler alert: that's going to catch on approximately never -- and she duplicates Robert's offer. Katherine gives off the impression she'd rather not give up so much equity, so Kevin tries a different tack: He'll loan her the $750,000, and since she's so confident in future sales, she'll pay him 7.5 percent in interest until she pays it back and then she'll throw in 5 percent of the company. Lori, font of original thinking, proposes the same deal.
Katherine nearly torpedoes things when she asks if she can step out and consult a friend on these more-generous-than-necessary offers. The Sharks suggest this would be a terrible idea, and Katherine is clever enough to pick up on the cues to strike the deal with Lori we all figured was coming.
Mohamed Mohamed's bike lock actually looks pretty clever. All you have to do is press a button and a metal ring slides into place, letting you lock the bike's wheel to its frame which will theoretically stop thieves in their tracks. When you return, Linka uses a Bluetooth connection with your phone to signal when it's time to unlock your bike. The whole thing will cost you $129, which has Mohamed thinking his business is worth $2.5 million.
He's thinking wrong, since the standard version of his lock doesn't chain the bike up to a pole or bike rack. It just stops a would-be thief from hopping on the bike and pedaling away. Linka does have an alarm that sounds whenever it detects someone tries to make off with your bike. But honestly, how effective would this tinny alarm be? Speaking personally, I don't remember rounding up a posse of like-minded citizens the last time a car alarm went off in my neighborhood, and I suspect the Linka's alarm will sound even less like a call to action.
At any rate, Barbara declares that the Linka is not enough of a theft deterrent, and the other Sharks agree. Mohamed goes home without the $250,000 he wanted.
2. Glacé Cryotherapy
Brittney and Skyler Scarlett are a sister-and-brother team who've decided that what America needs is not a place for quiet reflection, but rather a spa treatment that quite literally blows cold air up their ass. The Scarletts run a cryo-sauna in which you get into a chamber that blows dry, cool air on you for three minutes. The idea is that the cold air helps soothe aches and pains, while giving you a nice little energy boost. I guess you owe Darth Vader and the Emperor an apology for that time they froze you in carbonite, huh, Han?
Truly, the highlight of this segment is a nearly nude Robert Herjavec subjecting himself to the 250-degree-below zero air while giving his fellow Sharks a glimpse of what freezing cold air does to the little Herjavecs. It is certainly not the business itself, for which the Scarletts would like $100,000, in exchange for 15 percent. Kevin points out, not unreasonably, that he could buy a $55,000 cryo-unit on his own and set up his own treatment center, while keeping 100 percent of profit. Other Sharks drop out because they don't see the business scaling or what the gameplan is. Barbara's willing to take a flyer, though, as Glacé Cryotherapy fits in with her investment portfolio. She'll give the Scarletts $100,000 for 30 percent, promising to make them a million-dollar business. The Scarletts are clever enough to take the money and run.
I will be honest with you: I have no idea what Allison DeVane was pitching here. But rather than blame the jet lag, I'm going to suggest it's because she's not sure what she's pitching either. Packets of flavored tea? The teapot needed to brew all that tea? Her proof-of-concept retail location? Whatever's going to get me that check, Allison's eyes seem to say.
That's a shame, because $26,000 in sales over the last five months is nothing to sneeze at. Less impressive is her presentation, which is all over the map and drives the Sharks to the exits. "Don't look at this as a failure," Lori tells Allison. "No, look at it as a failure," Kevin replies.
Boy, if only there was a caffeinated beverage we could give to Allison to help steady her nerves.