Billion Dollar Buyer Season 2 Businesses

In Billion Dollar Buyer, Tilman Fertitta travels the country visiting small businesses looking for a shot at being vendors for Landry’s, Inc., one of the largest restaurant corporations in the U.S.

Each episode features two businesses that follow a theme, though that theme isn’t necessarily their products. He puts them through their paces to see if they’re worth inking large contracts with, sometimes totaling millions of dollars a year.

Here’s a recap of the businesses featured in Season 2. Click here for recaps of Billion Dollar Buyer Season 1 businesses.

Episode 1 – Scale Up or Give Up

Nicolita Swimwear

Nicole Di Rocco is the founder of Nicolita Swimwear, a Cuban-style, non-pinching line of swimsuits based in southern California. You’ve likely seen her line on the runway in Miami fashion week. She even partnered with singer Christina Milian for a swimwear line.

She did $351k in sales last year, which netted her $40k in profit. She’s afraid of debt, but he explains every business uses debt to get ahead, even the big boys. Essentially her issue is that her major clients were on net 90 contracts, something I never do as a freelancer. At most, I’ll give a client net 30, so I absolutely get her trepidation. Her sales break down to 60% private label and 40% retail.

Tillman states the poolside bars at his resorts generate $11 million in annual sales, and he’s on the lookout for uniforms that are more flattering and comfortable for his servers. He gives her a chance to design the uniforms, and for some reason he’s unimpressed by some of her designs, as they’re too sexy for his family business that uses women in bikinis as servers.

She bids 500 sets for his servers and 400 sets for his retail stores, but after giving her grief, he orders 1120 for his servers and another $100,000 worth for his retail stores.

You can find Nicolita Swimwear on Amazon if you’d like to try them out for yourself. Or you can find them at any of his 7 retail stores.

Designer Drains

Peter Papadatos runs Designer Drains, a company that makes (spoiler alert) designer stainless steel drains in Montclair, CA. While the company’s products have great reviews online, the service has mixed reviews on Yelp.

Their material cost is only at 5%, but labor accounts for a massive amount of overhead. Nobody appears to be doing any sales, either. He gives them a chance to prove their worth at a trade show.

According to Tilman, he’s looking to make his Post Oak Hotel in Houston special with designer drains. He spent $3 million on plumbing fixtures in one year and believes paying more for artistic drains will set it apart from the competition. He’s afraid they’ll go out of business before completing his order though.

After tough negotiations, Tilman places a $89,375 order for 275 drains. You can check out these designer drains either on the company website or at the the Post Oak Hotel in Houston.

Episode 2 – Are you Committed?

Santa Barbara Mariculture

Bernard Friedman is a media darling in Southern California, the star of the short film Mussel Man, and the owner of Santa Barbara Mariculture, the only open-ocean mussel farmer in the U.S.

Tilman states he spends over $500,000 annually on mussels, and Landry’s (his flagship seafood restaurant where he started) has a special place in his heart. He also serves them at Mastro’s and hopes the upgraded taste is a hit with customers willing to buy and pay more.

Everyone agrees his methods work, and the mussels pass every taste test against the current Prince Edward Island mussels. Unfortunately his distribution issues make delivery a problem. He’s a two-person shop, selling for $2.35 per pound to the distributor, who’s selling them for $3.50.

He’s also having an issue with fulfilling the orders. He’s given a 6-week trial and runs out of inventory 4 weeks in. Still, Tilman presents a contract for 20,000 pounds of mussels at $3/lb over four months.

If you’d like to taste the difference for yourself, you can find SB Mariculture mussels at Landry’s Signature restaurants in Southern California, the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market, Santa Barbara Fish Market, Harbor Meat and Seafood, Kanaloa Seafood Market, Whole Foods in Southern California, and the Santa Barbara Harbor Festival.


SeatNinja is a restaurant app that’s meant to make finding and reserving a table easier. It’s the brainchild of Matt Thompson (who, according to his LinkedIn, is no longer with the company) and Mike Reinero. The app has terrible reviews on both Google Play and the App Store.

They have 77 restaurants in Sacramento but have earned no revenue.

Tilman explains he spends $4 million each year on restaurant software across all his brands. I’ve reviewed many of the most popular brands for CardFellow. His hope is to replace these systems with SeatNinja to make his restaurants more efficient, but he comes across a ton of errors during the install.

To migrate his systems, he would pay $1.3 million per year to SeatNinja. So he gives them a trial run at Claim Jumpers Sacramento. As they brag about an easy sell and expansion plans, the staff struggles with both the staff and customer apps.

They’re great salespeople, but Tilman and his management are having none of it. They’re given another month to make it work and try again at Willie G’s in Houston. It fails, and they prove to be more sales than substance, blaming the IT guy, attempting to misdirect Tilman, and making software developers everywhere look bad.

He dismisses the duo without even going to the boardroom, and they blame the lesser technology (which is already in production in hundreds of thousands of restaurants around the country with no issues).

Episode 3 – Sometimes, You Just Can’t Make a Deal

Kismet Cosmetics

Caitlin Picou is the founder of Kismet Cosmetics, a New Orleans-based cosmetics company with a line of liquid lipsticks. They’re cruelty-free, moisturizing, and long-lasting.

The lipsticks have great reviews across beauty and fashion blogs, HuffPost, and the Internet in general. Caitlin is more of a product development type, while Brittany is the sales person. They’ve been in business since 2013 and made $55,000 in sales through 11 wholesale accounts in 2015.

According to Tilman, $500,000 of his $100 million in retail sales comes from cosmetics. He’s hoping upgrading the product quality will raise that revenue. He has reservations about the business’s ability to grow with only a part time salesperson and no business plan, though.

To test the sales potential, he sets them up with a pop up in the Biloxi Golden Nugget. Because he likes the product, he sets Caitlin up with his associates at the University of Houston to build a business plan.

She ends up hiring Brittany full-time, and in the boardroom, she bids $30,000 ($500 per month at each of 5 locations). He instead places an order for $55,000 per year at 11 locations. These brilliant women make a great contrast to the complete idiot we’re about to cover.

If you’d like to try Kismet Cosmetics for yourself, you can do so at any of Golden Nugget’s 11 retail locations.

Jed Malitz V2 Gallery

Jed Malitz is a software developer turned digital artist who runs an art gallery in the French Quarter of New Orleans. His art is rather unique and uses his wife Sofia as a model. You’ll notice in the video below, the Billion Dollar Buyer episode, and the gallery website that there are clearly other artists on display as well.

He has so far only sold one sculpture at a price of $250,000 (and it’s still sitting in the gallery). He’s only made 5 in his life, and they cost him $50,000 each to make, as the actual glass fabrication is outsourced. He’s also paying $66,000 each year for rent on the gallery.

Tilman explains he spends $500,000 annually on artwork each year and wants a glass art installation for the lobby of the Post Oak Hotel in Houston. He’s hesitant about supporting an artist who may soon go out of business though. Jed is also rigid on the pricing.

Tilman dispenses a great lesson during this episode about how the one sale four years ago by obviously a friend or family member (they’re simply referred to as a philanthropist in the episode) doesn’t mean the market value of his art is as much as a house.

Instead, the lack of any other sales over the past four years actually demonstrates that the market finds his art overpriced. Tilman insists he gets sales and asks him to throw an art gallery party.

You can find the invite for this party on Jed’s Facebook page. He’s not looking for people who would actually buy, but simply casting extras for the episode to give the illusion of success. This illusion feeds Jed’s delusion, and he ends up not making a deal.

Sofia is definitely the brains of the operation. She is the only one that actually understands business. Despite her assertion that they’re going out of business in 3-6 months, they’re still in business as of this blog’s publishing date.

Every real artist and creative professional can clearly see Jed is simply playing artist. I don’t always agree with Tilman, but he hits the nail on the head when he points out that all evidence points to Jed not being a real artist. He’s not interested in growing creatively – he just keeps repeating his mentally retarded assertion that lowering his price would be catastrophic.

He’s a complete delusional idiot who insults real working artists with his pompous attitude. He’s an embarrassment to the art community, and each time he says catastrophic, it’s hard not to want to punch this idiot.

I hope you read this one day, Jed, so you know that real artists like myself who create on a daily basis consider you a wannabe artist whose name is only ever going to get out there as a fake phony computer geek loser who knows nothing of the real art industry.

Episode 4 – Maybe You Should Stay a Small Business


Kicker Kalozdi started DamnDog as a subsidiary of his parents’ Kalencom Corporation, which also includes Hadaki New Orleans, Cheeky Chompers, and Amy Butler by Kalencom. He travels the country with his then-girlfriend Jenn Foreman in his custom RV selling bags to small retailers. He’s since moved on to a new fiance, so it looks like he spends more time selling the dream of his business to get laid than actual bags.

DamnDog bags are waxed buffalo leather bags that can be found on Amazon, NewEgg, and at one time Sears, and they have average customer reviews. The quality doesn’t appear to be on the level of high-end bags, and because they’re handmade, several defects have been reported.

According to Tilman, he sells $100,000 annually in man bags. Kicker is clearly using his parent’s warehouse overhead, and he doesn’t have the same risk as a normal entrepreneur since his parents will clearly cover him if he fails. He sold $50,000 in 2015 and they’re a bit overpriced at $120.

Kicker has a lot of energy and talks super fast. He also doesn’t seem to understand the bubble of entitlement he lives in. He gets a test run at Bubba Gump New Orleans but only makes one sale of the cheapest item. Tilman asks for cheaper bags, and Kicker presents him with garbage bags.

In the boardroom, he continues his entitled attitude and really shows his immaturity. He comes up with dumb ideas and can’t spin his lack of business aptitude, even blaming Tilman for his failures. He ends up blowing the deal.

You can check out DamnDog bags on Amazon for yourself if you’d like.

Pop Brothers

Have you ever seen an angrier man eating a popsicle?

Pop Brothers is a Gulfport, MS-based ice cream company owned by husband and wife Octavio and Shannon Arzola, along with Shannon’s brother Chuck Kelly. The company has amazing reviews on Yelp, Facebook, and Trip Advisor, and the entire town seems to show up when Tilman arrives.

The name doesn’t portray the quality of these frozen desert pops, and a rebranding would definitely help. They look delicious and all-natural, but the name sounds like artificial junk. They made $253,000 of sales in their first year at a price of $5/pop.

According to Tilman, he sells $4 million in frozen treats annually. His goal is to add organic items to his inventory, but the price needs to be right. The company has no wholesale business and struggles to lower production costs. He balks at their $2.50 wholesale price and explains he needs them at $1.

They get a test run at Golden Nugget and the price point is too high. They lower the price to $4 ($1.50 wholesale) and try it on one of his boardwalks.

In the boardroom, they bid $1.40 wholesale per pop, but he negotiates them down to $1.30 per pop for 50,000 units. To reach this, they absorb the distribution cost and promise to pass any future savings on to Tilman.

If you’d like to taste Pop Brothers for yourself, you can try them at their Gulfport retail store or Landry’s outdoor properties on the East Coast (i.e. the Golden Nugget pool or the Kemah Boardwalk).

Episode 5 – Y’all Got a Problem

Real Antique Wood

Gary and Lisa Horvath run Real Antique Wood, A New Jersey-based business that salvages barn wood to refinish and make furniture. They admit they have limited education and mostly make their business up as they go along. They don’t even know how many sales they made last year.

They have great reviews on Facebook, Yelp, and across the Internet.

According to Tilman, he spends over $50 million every year on restaurant interiors. He’s looking for a rustic look for The Grotto restaurant in Houston and uses 300-400k board feet of wood each year. However, he’s worried about their ability to produce and deliver.

They state they can produce 40 pieces of furniture per week, so Jeffrey Cantwell, Landry’s SVP of Development, challenges them to make three 36-inch tabletops in four hours. They’re only able to actually produce one Maple tabletop and half of another.

Also because they’re backlogged, they can only actually produce 40 tabletops in 10-12 weeks. Thirty tables would cost $325 a piece ($9750 total), but they can’t scale.

Instead of tables, they ask for 7 wood benches for $9800. He also orders 250,000 board feet of red wood for $2.40 per board foot. It’s a $609,800 order.

Kelvin Slush

Alexander Rein and Zack Silverman run Kelvin Slush, a Brooklyn-based organic slush company for adults. They’re lawyers who want to drink slushies in their law firm. The slushes have decent reviews on Yelp, Facebook, and across the Internet.

The wholesale cost is $0.80 per serving, which doesn’t include the mandatory $4000 slushie machine. Tilman’s commercial blenders simply can’t blend them, and they’re double the cost of normal syrups. They only made $505,000 in revenue in 2015 and are unsure if they’ll be in business in another year (they still are as of this writing).

According to Tilman, he sells $30 million in frozen cocktails each year. He wants to make frozen versions of classic cocktails instead of the typical margarita and daiquiri. He tests them at one of his bars, but his staff struggles to make them and inconsistent drink quality puts off some customers.

In the boardroom, they pitch 900 cases per year for 19 Mitchell’s locations (20 servings per day) at a cost of $0.66 per 12oz serving. However, they need a three-year contract to finance the machines and have to charge an additional $0.11 per serving, bringing the total to $0.77 per serving.

The cost is simply too high, and they’re unable to make a deal.

Kelvin Slush sells a variety of consumer drink mixes on Amazon if you’d like to try them for yourself.

Episode 6 – How in the Hell Do We Sell It

Dutch’s Spirits

Ariel Schlein runs Dutch’s Spirits, a New York-based moonshine distillery dedicated to infamous bootlegger Dutch Schultz. The liquor Tilman is interested in is Dutch’s Sugar Wash Moonshine, a smoother moonshine made from sugar instead of grain.

The moonshine has respectable reviews online, as do the distillery’s bitters and peach brandy, along with the distillery itself. They did $250,000 in revenue in 2015, but spent $5 million on the property, so it operated at a net loss.

According to Tilman, he spends $33 million annually on liquor. He decides to add hooch to his menu because Slim Thug and Millennials like the trend. He gives Ariel a test run at Morton’s, Mastro’s, and Bubba Gump to find an audience for it. Unfortunately he only has a liquor license in New Jersey and New York.

It tastes more like a smooth rum, much to the chagrin of Tilman’s Millennial son and his friends (which oddly includes an older man). They expect a fiery burn, but there is none (but where did the lighter fluid come from?).

Ariel creates cocktails for each brand, and it’s difficult to tell whether or not his people are just yes men. Nobody ever seems to have an opinion that disagrees with Tilman, but this may just be the show’s editing. The only restaurant’s customers that actually loved the drink was Bubba Gump’s.

He bids 6000 cases (10 bottles per case/$20 per bottle), but because he can only supply the Times Square Bubba Gump, Tilman rejects his bid and can’t do business.

While he can’t sell liquor everywhere, you can find bitters by Dutch’s Spirits on Amazon if you want to support the cause. Or you can tour the distillery itself in Pine Plains.

Lazyjack Press

Miriam Zelinsky and her sorority sister Amanda run Lazyjack Press, a funky tie company with a terrible logo. They’re sold mostly out of a popup in NYC’s Grand Central Station, although you can find them on Amazon as well. There are no reviews online.

The company has been in business for four years and made $135,000 in sales in 2015, at a price point of $89 per tie.

According to Tilman, he sells $25,000 of ties every year. He wants to raise that number and believes Lazyjack Press can be the answer. She clearly is marketing to the preppy crowd (i.e. the frat guys she partied with in college). But Tilman worries they ties won’t appeal to the general public, as you’ll see in the clip below.

The ties fare well in a product test (apparently every social event Tilman runs is a product test party), but they need a new logo. He sets her up with a graphic designer, but Miriam hates each of the 40 options presented.

Amanda says they have a comprehensive plan to get media attention from both major outlets and fashion/preppy blogs, but I see none of this online. Their generic business listing are all you’ll find in a search of the company’s actual brand name (even after being featured on a popular CNBC show), so their SEO and marketing strategy is a complete failure.

Still, Tilman places a bid for $50,000 worth of ties (nearly double her initial bid of $36,500).

Amazon carries Lazyjack Press bowties if you want to own one of these unique designs. Otherwise you can find them in Tilman’s East Coast Golden Nuggets.

Episode 7 – Don’t Go Rogue on Me

Smart LED Concepts

Sean Gleeson founded Smart LED Concepts in 2012 after emigrating to Florida from Ireland to live the American dream. He’s an electrician who understands LED controllers in enterprises are the future. The company is well reviewed by customers online, but topped out at $680,000 per year due to staffing limitations.

LED installations are relatively new, so finding qualified technicians makes it hard to scale.

According to Tilman, he spends over $10 million annually on electricity across his properties. His hope is to upgrade everything to full-spectrum LED lighting in order to save on these costs. The upfront costs, however, are “yuge.” He gives them a shot at lighting the Houston Police Foundation gala he’s hosting.

LED runs cooler, consumes less power for equivalent brightness, and needs to be replaced less often. You can learn more about smart LED lights in my ultimate smart light guide.

After the gala, Sean is tasked with lighting a Florida Chart House. Although it looks like a strip club, he’s able to easily change it and program it however he wants, both inside and out. This man is more of an artist than most of the self-proclaimed artists that appear on this show.

Sean’s intelligence and creativity is a great contrast to the incompetence of the entrepreneur he shares the episode with.

In the boardroom, he bids $105,000 to redo the lighting installation in one restaurant, the Mastro’s Ocean Club.

Wizard Creations

Luke Freeman and his wife Mara are among the annoying entrepreneurs you’ll find in life. The guy basically orders personalized junk online, slapping brands on kitschy, low-quality garbage. He understands how to run his mouth non-stop, however, so Tilman goes to Ft Lauderdale (or as Luke douchingly calls it while making me throw up in my mouth – Fort Lodi Dodi) to give him a shot.

Wizard Creations gets great customer reviews on Facebook, and Luke’s most viewed YouTube video is his proposal to Mara at an Orlando Magic game. His audition tape for The Apprentice is the second most viewed, and clearly this man is a fame whore (who can’t seem to achieve said fame). He even uses Tilman’s marketing budget to brand himself at Tilman’s party. He’s an idea man with no idea what he’s actually doing.

According to Tilman, he spends $10 million each year on branded merchandise. Although Luke continues throwing out the terms “experiential marketing” and “data,” he doesn’t know much beyond the buzz terms. He reminds me of a guy named Mike who’s easily the biggest douche I ever met and provides no real value to anything in life.

Luke isn’t offering anything you can’t get yourself online, and both his experiences and products fail to impress Tilman or anyone who understands how branded products and experiential marketing actually works. Wizard Creations is geared more toward small businesses in the backwoods of Florida, not legitimate businesses. There’s no way he could design a booth for a major trade show like CES. I doubt he’s even seen real experiential events.

In addition, the data gold mine he hard sells ends up only being email sign ups. That’s really nothing for a casino, restaurant, or hotel chain that can track much more detailed information. He clearly has no experience dealing with legitimate enterprises. He’s a low-level street hustler and salesman with no real business acumen.

He pitches a mix of 20 basic and 5 premium event packages over 12 months, totaling $275,000. He seems to think by adding the word “premium” to low-quality t-shirts and inflatable chairs, it makes it somehow true. But nobody is buying that, least of all Tilman, who’s trying his hardest not to laugh at how little he understands the gaming industry.

Needless to say, Luke walks away without a deal. He doesn’t even seem to understand why he failed, which is hilarious to watch. Edited for TV or not, this guy seriously lacks in a lot of areas, and his goods are tacky and nothing you can’t do yourself with a little online research.

Episode 8 – You Sit on Your Hands, You Go Out of Business

Merrick Seafood

Kerry and Patrick Krieg own Merrick Seafood, a family-run, Cape Coral, FL-based retail and wholesale seafood market that buys seafood straight off the boat and distributes around the area. They also own the Fish Tale Grill and seem to really know their seafood.

Both businesses have great reviews on Facebook, Trip Advisor, Yelp, and around the Internet. Margins are small, but they have about 250 wholesale accounts on the west coast of Florida.

According to Tilman, he buys $9 million in seafood each year for his Florida restaurants alone. Selling seafood is tricky and trustworthy suppliers are hard to find, so he’s trying to help Merrick expand to the east coast of Florida.

He brings in regional executive chefs to test them out, and they don’t do a bad job. Check it out in the clip below.

They make three on-time deliveries to Tilman’s restaurants, and each is mostly satisfied, though some of the product gets rejected. The chefs agree they overall did a great job and should be hired, so he gives them a trial run of 21 days supplying five restaurants.

Tilman inevitably places an order for $780,000 worth of seafood from Merrick (10 restaurants at $1500 a week per location).

Amazon carries gift cards for the Fish Tale Grill if you want to head out and taste the difference for yourself. Otherwise you can taste their seafood at restaurants across both Florida coasts.

Little Waisted

Lauren Brooks is a former reporter who runs Little Waisted, a Los Angeles-based company that makes edible glitter for cocktail rims and baking. Flavored and colored sugars and salts are their bread and butter. They’re a unique idea and have good reviews online.

The company as grossed about $150,000 in sales in 2015, and 90% of this is the cocktail rimmers, which sells for $10-12 a pound. It takes 3g of sugar (.007 pounds) to rim a cocktail glass, meaning each drink costs $0.0035 in rimmers vs $0.07 for Little Waisted’s glass glitz.

According to Tilman, he sells over 30 million mixed drinks for $250 million each year. He’s hoping the extra touch of glitter will help move more of these high-margin products. It adds an entirely new dimension to the drinks, both in looks and flavor. That’s not always a good thing, as you’ll see with the lime sugar and ghost pepper salt used in the clip below.

While he can’t raise the drink prices for the glitter rimmer, it raises the presentation value. She delivers pumpkin pie and lemon drop rimmers that are a hit with his customers. He doesn’t even need to go to the boardroom and orders 3500 pounds ($25,000 worth) of pumpkin pie and lemon meringue glass glitz from her.

You can find a variety of cocktail rimmers and bakery glitters from Little Waisted on Amazon if you want to taste them at home. Or check them out at Morton’s and other Landry’s properties around the country.

Episode 9 – Everybody Thinks Their Product Is Better

Desert Creek Honey

Husband and wife Blake and Kathleen Shook run Desert Creek Honey, a McKinney, Texas-based, hive-to-table honey company. They have great reviews on Facebook and around the Internet. I still have some left from my review last year, and I love it all, even the creamed honey.

They produce around 400,000 pounds of natural, raw, unfiltered honey each year. They have manufacturing for everything but the bottling process, which is done manually.

According to Tilman, he uses 250,000 pounds of honey each year, at a cost of $600,000. He buys 5-pound jars at $2.40 per pound, but they sell at $3 per pound because of the manual packaging process.

Desert Creek Texas Honey

He gives them a trial run at Rainforest Cafe, using the liquid honey in several dishes and allowing them to sell the creamed honey in the retail stores. While the menu test is a success, the retail test is a failure.

While Rainforest Cafe didn’t do as well in the longer tests, it did well in Saltgrass with honey ribs. They bid for 200,000 pounds a year, but he only orders 125,000 pounds because of the wholesale price of $2.75 per pound. It’s a $343,500 order.

There’s a variety of Desert Creek Honey on Amazon you can try, including raw honey, creamed honey, and a honeycomb. Or you can taste it at Saltgrass, Rainforest, and other Landry’s properties that sell honey-flavored dishes.

Garcia Art Glass

Gini Garcia runs a glass art studio in San Antonio, TX with her older sister Dora and niece Claudia. Gini designs the glass on paper, but Dora is the actual production manager. She has an affinity for chickens and because she’s yet another artist who ignores the business, they lost $17,000 on the business in 2015, despite $840,000 in sales.

The studio has good reviews on Facebook, Yelp, and Trip Adviser. Her work is better than the elementary work done by East Side Glass Studio in season one, but it’s still a far cry from the talented artists showcased each year at the BIG Industry Show’s Galleria of Glass. The losses caused one of her locations to close in September 2017.

High Times Gonzo Glass Art Cannabis MJBizDaily Las Vegas Rio 2015
This isn’t from Garcia…it’s from the cannabis industry’s glass artists…

According to Tilman, he spends over $5 million each year on light fixtures. Light fixtures are important because they create atmosphere for his properties. He’s hesitant because of her constant need to prototype. Tilman shows he’s more of an artist than most the artists he interviews because he understands that if it doesn’t sell, you can’t spend time on it.

Tilman asks for candle holders in tans and neutral colors for one of his Chart House restaurants, giving them spec sheets that they completely ignore. She offers to sell them to him at $68 per candle holder.  Like the first glass artist he dealt with, this one initially refuses to fulfill his initial order, however Garcia proves herself to be much smarter the second time around, likely thanks to the counsel of her sister and niece.

She opens a pop-up shop and sell her work for much less. Her prices are too high, and the inventory is taking up too much space, so she fixes some of the issues.

They bid 2000 pieces at $50 each. He accepts the order and even asks for more for his new Mastro’s locations, for a total order of $200,000. You can check out the candle holders yourself at any of those locations or head out to her San Antonio studio.

Episode 10 – You Really Think You’re Ready for Me?

Face Chairs

Celebrity photographers Jennifer Graylock, Katy Winn, and Lisa Spruill started Face Chairs to use her archive of 2 million professional photographs to create furniture. The business gets the occasional media mention, but they’re otherwise not reviewed anywhere. This is likely because they’re just a kitschy product nobody with any real taste would actually buy. They get away with using celebrity images because they own the rights to the actual images of these public figures.

They’re tired of the freelance grind, something I can relate to, and they hope this hobby business will replace their photography careers. They generated $30,000 in sales in 2015, with an average price point of $2000 per chair. Face chairs are their cheapest chairs, and it would cost $125 per chair, which they would sell to him for $250. The bar stool is even more expensive at $300.

According to Tilman, he spends $10 million on restaurant furniture each year. Because a lot of his restaurants are themed, he’s hoping to upgrade the chairs with professional photography. He’s worried, however, because they don’t know much about creating professional furniture, and the dye they use rubs off easily on the first try, as you’ll see in the clip below.

Basically these women are just buying chairs and stapling a cheap, custom-printed fabric over the cushions. He gives them a second chance to get it right, and they’re able to print on a better vinyl fabric.

In the boardroom, however, the ladies’ pricing is still too high. They bid for 650 bar stools (15 stools for each of 43 locations) at $250 each, for a total of $162,500. They also show up with his logos on the chairs (something he specifically mentioned earlier he could do himself and doesn’t utilize their archive of photos).

He rejects the order but commissions them to make a chair for a charity auction. That better fits their skill level and the size of their side business.

44 Farms

Bob McClaren, former President of the Houston Astros runs 44 Farms, an Angus cattle ranch that uses genetics to create the best cattle in Texas. The family-owned farm uses no antibiotics or growth hormones, giving them a great flavor that’s the talk of the Internet. They even recently opened a retail store.

Because they genetically raise the cattle, they’re able to produce 20x the yield of an old-fashioned rancher. Their price is also 25% above market rate, and they inform him he can charge $4 more for their quality.

According to Tilman, he serves over 3 million pounds of high-end beef cuts each year. Unfortunately they want him to buy the entire cow. Bob’s smug kid really tries selling Tilman’s chefs on beef belly as a growing trend, comparing it to pork belly. You can see how nervous he is when he tries to pull off this grift.

However, beef belly isn’t bacon, and this sales pitch falters when none of the chefs at any of the restaurant brands can do anything with it.

He is able to use more than just the prime cuts. but he’s not sure if he’s willing to pay the premium prices for his hanger steak, tri-tip, and ground beef.

In the boardroom, they give Tilman a price of 100 head per week (3.5 million pounds per year), at $1342 per cow ($6,978,400 per year). He tells them he can only use 60% of the carcass, so they come back to him with the offer of 25 head of cattle per week at a price of $2 million per year, or $1538 per cow.

If you want to try 44 Farms beef for yourself, you can do so at their retail store or steakhouses across Texas.

Episode 11 – My Guests Are Number One

All American Design Center

Mike Pampinella runs All American Design Center, a Las Vegas-based design and fabrication business that focuses mostly on night clubs. It’s similar to several businesses on the west coast, so it’s difficult to distinguish online. It does have decent reviews for what little there is.

He struggles sometimes under pressure and often loses his train of thought mid sentence during the show. Still, he did $1.3 million in revenue in 2015.

According to Tilman, he’s looking to increase the revenue of Gold Nugget’s club (unfortunately called Gold Diggers). He’s interested in the drink service, but he’s also curious about a full remodel. He’s unsure whether or not Mike is capable of a commercial remodel, though. When given an opportunity to show what he can do, Mike flops, as you’ll see in the clip below.

During the drink test, his cart actually decreases sales because it takes longer to make a cocktail. Tilman still gives him a chance to redesign Gold Diggers. He presents a million dollar remodel that tears out the bars and leaves Tilman unsatisfied.

Mike’s lack of real design experience shows in his half-finished bid that leaves out all the important pieces. It’s clear he’s never used AutoCAD in this manner, and, needless to say, he leaves without a deal.

Evolving Kneads Bakery

Glenn Panitz, Michael Monks, and Mark Battista run Evolving Kneads, a gluten-free bakery that specializes in breads and desserts. They have good reviews online, although there’s not many of them.

Personally I’m no fan of the gluten-free trend, as it involves using chemical additives and processing foods (something most gluten-free snowflakes are against). However, I realize what both Tilman and these man do, which is that a ton of people have jumped on the bandwagon. Gluten-free people are like vegans in that you’ll know when you meet them because they tell everybody and make a huge deal about it every single time.

According to Tilman, he spends $10 million annually on baked goods and wants to offer gluten-free options. He loves the taste of their products, but their pricing is high at $2.50 per dessert, as you’ll see in the clip below.

Tilman gives them a taste test against his regular gluten hamburger buns and desserts. The desserts fare better than the buns, but they’re not individually wrapped, which will lead to spoilage and gluten contamination. In addition, these guys simply can’t take criticism – it’s obvious they live in a bubble and will only accept positive feedback.

When they do individually wrap the desserts at the size requested by his restaurants, the price goes up. They propose 54 units per week of their sticky toffee pudding at a cost of $261,144. But the desserts will only work in his lower-end Claim Jumpers and Bubba Gump restaurants. So he only orders $77,376 from them.

If you want to try the sticky toffee pudding for yourself, you can do so at most Claim Jumpers locations, or directly from the Evolving Kneads Bakery itself.

Episode 12 – I Need Your Vision

In the season 2 finale, Tilman takes a different route to the show. This time, he has two teams of designers directly competing with each other for the opportunity to design a French cafe in his Houston Post Oak hotel.

Sleek to Chic Interiors

Kara Gordon wanted to be a stay-at-home mom until she had the kid and realized she needs to get out of the house. She started a home design business and claims to be able to design anything from sleek to chic. She doesn’t have much commercial experience, however. So while she’s good at picking out furniture, she’s weak with architectural design, working with contractors, and other elements.

MB Design Studio

Brad Strickland and Martin Ayanegui are designers working together and independently on a variety of projects throughout the Houston area. Their businesses include BoMoSo, Tailgater Kings, Dollhouse Camper, and Martin Ayanegui Interiors. They don’t seem as professional as Kara up front, but they have much more commercial experience.

Both design teams are given several challenges, from design concept to a mock up in a warehouse space. In the end, the men win the contract, while he hires Sleek to Chic to design some of the hotel rooms.


Dr. Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. You can find his work in Cracked, High Times, HuffPost, Lifewire, Forbes, Fast Company, and dozens of other places, although much of it is no longer under his name. Dr. Penny loves annoying fake media.

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