As the ninth episode of ABC's Shark Tank unspooled, we met Dan Mackey. When he saw that California was dumping sugary sodas from the schools, he realized there was an opening for something organic and low-glycemic, with no high fructose corn syrup: his Chill Soda.
"A lot of people have great ideas. It's just a matter of doing something about it," he told us. And he's right about that. He only wanted $50,000, but for just 10% equity. Using agave nectar, it has about half the calories of the regular sodas on the market. Right away, the pitch started to go flat, when Kevin O'Leary asked what was the one thing that marked the ability to sell in the market, and Mackey was apparently too nervous to answer. "Distribution!" O'Leary said. "Sorry, I thought that was a given," Mackey said, and then said he already had a distributor working away, although he had only sold 250 cans. "You're getting in on the ground floor of this." You could hear a cricket in the Tank until Daymond John pressed a little more, and Mackey clarified: That was 250 thousand cans, worth $175,000 in sales. "I'm a marketing guy. I'm not in the beverage industry," he said, and the Sharks knew it was time to go for blood. "You should never have ever told me that you do not know that business. I'm out," said Daymond John.
WalletPop's Jason Cochran caught up with Dan Mackey for our popular AfterShark series:
Kevin Harrington bailed next, saying it would take more money than he was willing to give, and Robert Herjavec followed. O'Leary admitted he was too scared of the cutthroat beverage industry, and he quit next. That left only Barbara Corcoran as a potential partner. Fortunately, Mackey was the type of guy she loves: earnest, hard-working, and eager. The others excused themselves because Mackey wasn't slick, but she was tempted because of it. "You must be out of your mind!" O'Leary shouted.
Am I the only one who thinks that with each episode, this venal, bald billionaire behaves more and more like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons?
O'Leary begged her not to give him money, but that only egged her into solidifying her offer: $50,000, but for 20%. Mackey took it. John put his face in his hand. Cue the O'Leary histrionics: "The guy is going to get vaporized! You are guilty of murdering money, and you're going to go to jail!" Corcoran, as always, was level-headed: "I can't wait to show you my profits," she sang. She capped the deal with Mackey with an Eskimo-style nose rub. "Enough! I'm happy with the deal."
* Next, we met Dr. Geffrey Broderick and his daughter Kristina (with Casey the Pomeranian), selling Cornucopia Express natural pet foods. He has been selling his probiotic pet food out of his veterinary practice, and now he wanted the cash to take it wide. A lot of cash, it should be said: $300,000 for just a 15% stake, so right off the bat, we knew there was going to be a fight for control of his business. Broderick has a huge claim, though: His food can extend the life of a pet by 50%. Gotta hand it to Dr. Broderick, because he knew whom he was pitching to: "You put this in your food," he said, "and you'll be around to play with all the money you're making." He himself makes a smoothie with his dog food each morning, and he looked pretty good. O'Leary couldn't be left out of that. He had a taste, too. Yes, we knew Kevin O'Leary would do anything for the cameras, but last night, the man ate dog food on national television.
Broderick hasn't patented it yet because that would involve disclosing the secret recipe, but he hasn't seen a case of cancer in his practice for as long as he could remember. Kevin Harrington, thinking like a TV salesman, said that the FTC would make him prove that. Herjavec took it a step further, saying he was mildly "offended" if it was true, because it was being applied to pets and not the human race, and that's when he started raising his voice a little: "If that's true, why the hell are we selling pet food? Why aren't you in a real hospital getting funding from people and saving humankind?" He went out. Harrington went out, too, considering the absence of documentation defending the health claims. Corcoran agreed, and she went out. John said he had lost both of his dogs last year, but he, too, went out, leaving only O'Leary. He went out for the same reason as Harrington, leaving the Brodericks with an armful of unsold miracle pet food. He didn't sell to the Sharks, but then again, Sharks eat meat.
* Catch-up time: We rendezvoused with nanny Tiffany Krumins, who scored at $50,000 investment for her Ava the Elephant, a non-threatening medicine applicator for kids. (We interviewed her on AfterShark: Click here for our time with her.) Barbara Corcoran was the first Shark to appear in the follow-up segment for one of her investment, and she and Krumins showed off the finished version of the applicator. We sat in on a meeting with the duo as they shopped it to giant pharmacy supplier Flavor X. We broke the story on AfterShark that Krumins had battled cancer, and Krumins, gesturing to her surgery scar on her neck, reported she's now cancer-free. Corcoran took the opportunity to praise Krumins for working tirelessly, even from her hospital bed, and crowed "we're on track to make millions with this product, and it just goes to show you that if you have the right product with the right person, anyone can succeed." Barbara Corcoran's philosophy of personality-based business, which she herself elucidated in an interview with WalletPop on AfterShark, is proven yet again.
* $1.5 million for a mere 10% equity. If you can get past that staggering figure, then you can brave the wild idea behind Virtusphere, the idea of Ray Latypov and Jim Dimascio. It was like Wii on steroids: a 10-foot sphere that you get inside, wearing a set of wireless goggles, so you can feel like you're literally part of a simulation. The cameras being on, O'Leary wanted a crack at this, too ("seal me into the Pleasuredome!"). He also called them his trademark "crazy chickens," but the pair was smart. They knew where the big bucks lie: military contracts, and they thought it would work best for combat training. Part of the reason: It costs $25,000 per unit, although the price could drop to $10,000. At those prices, they need to sell 30 a year to break even, which proved in a stroke that their valuation was based on potential, not reality. Putting a ball that big into your house is also out of the question on a wide scale, leaving this to arcades, theme parks, and the military (unlikely bedfellows, sure, but all of which recruit thrill-seekers), and on that basis, O'Leary and Harrington left the game. "It's such a boy thing. I can't even relate to it," Corcoran said, bowing out. John also felt out of place with a concept like this, leaving only Herjavec. "I've never had an idea in the Shark Tank that I've loved this much," he said. "It's so early. And there's no data. It's so far away from the $1.5 million you're asking for." There was a tense moment, until he said, "Too many questions. I'm out."
* Gayla Bentley, the plus-size fashion designer with a bigger-than-life personality, was last on the show. She was so effusive, and her pitch for high-end clothes for big gals was so promising, that WalletPop interviewed her for our special AfterShark series. You can see our video chat with her by clicking here.
You can watch many more interviews with the people who have been on Shark Tank, including all the Sharks, by visiting our AfterShark video page at www.dailyfinance.com/after-shark-tank.
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