Episode 1 – Simple Habit Meditation App
Shark Tank is back for its ninth season, and there are more guest sharks than ever. In the first episode, guest shark Richard Branson joins regular sharks Daymond John, Mark Cuban, Lori Grenier, and Robert Herjavec to hear a variety of pitches, including a five-minute meditation app that got the sharks ironically heated.
It’s also notable for being the first episode of the series to not include “Mr. Wonderful” Kevin O-Leary. Richard seemed too nice, which made Mark the default “villain” of the episode, and boy, did he live up to it. Watching the two of them throw cups of water in each other’s face was quite funny.
At the root of the argument was Yunha Kim from Simple Habit, who sought $600,000 for 5% of the company. The room immediately mocked the $12 million valuation, despite Kim’s continued pitch. The app seems to function well – it has a sleek interface and is well-designed for the presentation. It’s a collection of meditations from experts around the world.
Of course, it’s not any different than HuffPost’s GPS for the Soul, Gaiam’s Muse Meditation Headband, and the plethora of meditation apps and tech on the market. The business gives 20% of net revenue to teachers, making it a P2P marketplace with 500,000 users and $750,000 in annual revenue in its first year.
She tells her story, which includes several accomplishments, including graduating from Stanford’s business school. Everything seems like it’s going ok, and the freemium subscription model appears to be working. She mentions her differentiating factor is the marketplace, but both apps mentioned above do the same thing.
Kim projects $5 million in revenue next year and she used convertible notes to raise $2.8 million. Mark immediately jumps in with skepticism on the valuation, and things quickly start going off the rails. You can tell neither Mark nor Daymond is particularly impressed, and Mark cuts her off to jump out while both he and Daymond start taking her down.
Mark calls Kim a gold digger, and Daymond continues to explain how insulting it is for an entrepreneur who has money to come here and take an opportunity away from someone who really needs it. They have a point – companies don’t typically seek investors like this if they can get a bank loan or find another way to gain liquid assets to pay for everything.
Richard is sitting between them being nice, and it’s only a matter of time before he throws a full glass of water into Mark’s face.
So, what do you think? What do you think when you see entrepreneurs with money asking to borrow money for their business?
Episode 2 – The 72 Survival Backpack
I own a lot of Shark Tank products through product reviews I’ve done on my blog, HuffPost, Buzzfeed, Hardcore Droid, and a few others. One of the products I got last year was The Seventy2 backpack featured on Episode 2 of Season 9.
Guest shark Rohan Oza is the branding expert behind Vitamin Water, Pop Chips, Bai, Vita Coco, and more. He joins Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Robert Herjavek, and Lori Grenier to evaluate The Seventy2 Backpack presented by Christian Schauf and Mike Escamilla of Uncharted Supply Co.
As explained, most emergency situations you’re bound to encounter in your life are resolved within 72 hours. However, most emergency kits (such as those found in your office, public elevators, in cars, and sold in stores) have cheap tools that aren’t going to do you any good.
There’s nothing worse than needed something like a flashlight or hammer in an emergency and having to use a piece of junk. These guys absolutely have fixed that problem. It’s hard to tell sometimes what quality the products are on Shark Tank just from the show. Having tested this myself, I can tell you that each individual piece of gear is actually durable and good enough for everyday use.
Not only is the product great, but these guys are very likable, so you’re not offended by the scare marketing tactics. They have great intentions, and I met them through the marketing rep for Fender guitars, so they definitely have the right connections.
They crowdfunded $400,000 in a month on crowdfunding and another $200,000 through their website since. It sells for $350, initially cost $209 to make, but they got it down to $141. They’re estimating a $300,000 profit by the end of the year, and they also explained they’re put together in a US-based company that employs handicapped people.
Of course, Barbara was in love with them, but she went out. Robert finally asserts himself and pulls a Mark Cuban to pull the deal out from under Lori before she can even put an offer out. Lori is beside herself, and Robert tries to console her later. Inevitably he knew what he was doing, and I hope we get to see both sharks work together on this.
The Seventy2 is a product I’d buy for myself. That’s why I own one, and you should too.
Episode 3 – Enso Rings
Episode 3 of Shark Tank’s 9th Season goes back to the original cast. It features sharks Barbara Corcoran, Lori Grenier, Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavek, and the return of Kevin O’Leary. What’s interesting this season is how the sharks seem to respond differently to the same issues of different companies. Simple Habit is portrayed as a gold-digger, while Ice Shaker isn’t, despite both having money available.
Last episode, everyone loved the scare tactics of Uncharted Supply Co., but Brighton Jones and Aaron Dalley of Salt Lake City-based Enso Rings find a different result when seeking $500,000 for 7.5% of their company.
Silicon rings aren’t exactly new, and there are thousands of competitors. It’s an over-saturated market, and these guys come off a little sleazier than Uncharted for several reasons. First – anyone can make a silicon ring, so they’re not developing a product. Instead, they’re just really slick marketers who would sell you anything.
On top of this, their pitch is almost entirely negative. They’re childhood friends, and Mark won’t even let Jones finish his rock climbing story before interrupting with skepticism about why he’s wearing a wedding ring rock climbing anyway. He takes it in stride, and they’re projecting $5 million in sales next year.
From $11-$30, the pricing is interesting, and Kevin is impressed with their sales. They spent over $2 million on marketing, and Mark doesn’t see it as sustainable. The Gronkowski brothers agree in Episode 4. Nobody but Kevin seems interested, and that’s typically the sign of a business that’s lacking direction or messaging.
However, Robert is getting a bit edgier this season, and he has an offer, too. After a tough negotiation, they end up taking Robert’s counter offer of $500,000 for 15% of their company.
They got the investment, but we’ll have to see if their digital marketing strategy will keep them above water 5 years from now or if they just end up being a marketing branch for Robert’s companies.
Episode 4 – Ice Shaker Pitch
On Season 9 Episode 4, sharks Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Lori Grenier, Kevin O’Leary, and guest shark Alex Rodriguez evaluated several businesses. One was the Ice Shaker, created by brothers and former New England Patriots Chris and Rob Gronkowski. It’s an insulated shaker bottle that’s perfect for the type of protein shakes used to get as ripped as these two guys.
I happen to have an Ice Shaker and the Gronkowskis are among two season 9 businesses I’ve already spoken to prior to them appearing on the show. As you can imagine, once all the athletes came together, the negotiations got aggressive quick.
While Kevin offered $100k for 20%, Alex and Mark jumped in with an offer of $150 for the same amount and Cuban pulled his classic push to close the deal. Barbara upped the ante, then Lori jumped in, too. Soon everyone was debating who would take the deal. Gronkowski pushed and managed to complete what he calls the trifecta, with the NFL, MLB, and NBA being represented.
Now, of course, that doesn’t equate to licensing deals with any of them, but they don’t need them. Each person has a great social media reach and an inside track into their industries. Also, the Ice Shaker (as it’s currently called, though it may change to a variation of Gronk Shaker suggested by Lori) is actually a great product.
It’s much sturdier than shaker bottles found with Herbalife or Isagenix. Contigo, Coleman, and dozens of others make shaker bottles, but this is unique in that it’s vacuum insulated.
Protein shakes taste awful when warm, and the Gronkowski clan played a game of flip cup against the sharks to prove that point. It’s an idea as practical as the list of best-selling products Lori gave, including Scrub Daddy and is sure to be a hit over the holiday season.
Overall, Gronkowski had great presentation skills and was one of few sharks to gain the attention of all 5 sharks. He seems to be a keen businessman, and not only got all the sharks in, he expertly leveraged them against each other to get the deal he wanted.
When grilled about why this shaker is different, he stuck to his guns and explained the vacuum insulation, which does make it uniquely spill-proof and insulated. Many of the shaker bottles I’ve seen also have a separate ball inside, and this one is attached to the lid. He was honest about how they have rich friends and don’t need the money. It’s all about the connections.
Aftermarket water bottles, insulated or not, is a competitive industry, but with major figures who have major social media presences representing fans from championship teams in each popular American sport, I’m excited to see where this product goes. I’ll post a review of the Ice Shaker later this fall.