Shark Tank recap, S11 EP 11:
A demo that was so bad it couldn’t even sell sex
Tonight’s sharks: Mark, Kevin, Lori, Daymond, Barbara
First presentation to the Sharks: Wise Pocket Products.
The ask: $30K for 15%
Wise Pocket Products, a company founded by 13 year old Sofia Overton, makes socks that have a pocket big enough for a phone.
From the moment this presentation started, it was attention grabbing. A dance troupe walked in with clear swagger, which immediately caught the Sharks’ attention. After a description of the product, the dance troupe performed while wearing the socks – which was quite entertaining, and a good way to show the benefit of the product.
How could it have been better: Make the value more explicit and give the sharks a “job”
The point of having the dance troupe perform while wearing the socks was to show that it’s possible to be active while also having your phone in your sock. Before the dance, it would have helped for Sofia to focus the Sharks attention on she wanted them to look for – “notice how no one’s phone falls out.” By giving them a “job,” she would have focused their attention where she wanted their attention to be. By not guiding their attention, there’s a bigger risk that they could have missed the product’s value.
The offer: Lori and Daymond
Lori and Daymond offered $30K for 33%. After a counter, they agreed on $35K for 25%. And good for Sofia for asking for both more money and less equity.
I don’t think this would have been successful had an adult tried this same pitch. However, Sofia was sincere, confident and poised – an excellent presenter for someone of any age, let alone someone as young as her. It was great to see her walk out with a deal.
2nd presentation to the Sharks: Kreyol Essence
Couple Stephane Jean-Baptiste & Yve-Car Momperousse asked for $400K for 10% of their company, Kreyol Essence, which sells Haitian castor oil.
For the demo, Stephane and Yve-Car had a group of people show the Sharks each step in the process of making the oil, which was engaging and fun to watch.
What really worked for the founders was their energy and enthusiasm. That’s clearly their style, and presenters with that kind of energy are presenters who can hold an audience’s attention (so long as they don’t overdo it). They also were clearly very intelligent but proved it throughout their presentation with their terminology and how they used it, vs trying to make it clear at the beginning. This is the equivalent of earning credibility throughout your presentation, not leading with a “why listen to me” slide.
The other thing that worked, even if unintentional, was when Stephane got emotional/teared up near the end. We are all emotional creatures, and taking a moment to be human is OK. When that happens (if genuine, of course) it can lead to a moment of connection with the audience – and that was what happened here.
How could it have been better: Make the value more explicit and don’t make big/unprovable claims
The demo was fun to watch, however, the value of the product wasn’t clear; and perhaps more importantly, I didn’t hear anything that differentiates the product in a very crowded space.
The presentation also had a deadly mistake that, once it happened, they couldn’t recover from it. When describing happy customers, they showed a customer testimonial and made the claim that the product promoted hair growth which is important because male pattern baldness is a “major issue” (as a bald man, I vehemently disagree, but that’s a separate issue for another time). Take a look at Lori’s face when they made this claim:
This was the moment that they lost Lori. There are so many emotions on her face at this point – she almost looks disappointed, because she knows exactly where this is going. She then quickly moves from disappointment to something worse – it might even be disgust. Just watch how quickly she changes expressions and the demo dies:
And look at her face at the end – particularly, her eyes:
She hadn’t yet said “I’m out,” but based on that reaction, there’s no way she was still in at this point.
Kevin’s offer: $400K for 37%.
After a counter with a royalty deal (know thy audience – Kevin loves royalty deals), Stephane & Yve-Car left the tank with a deal – 5% plus a $0.25 royalty in perpetuity.
Presentation 3: LoveSync
The ask: $100K for 10%
Lovesync is a $60 button that sits on a bedside table that someone can push to tell their significant other that they’re “in the mood.” Seriously. That’s all it does.
The product was presented by founders (and couple) Ryan and Jen.
To give the entrepreneurs credit, talking about sex on broadcast TV can be a bit awkward. Ryan and Jen were also a bit awkward as presenters, which sort of worked for them – it came off as a bit “folksy” and was disarming.
The demo included a couple acting out a “they both want it, but neither will say it” scenario, which got a laugh from the Sharks. That was the high point of the presentation.
What didn’t work during the demo: The lame innuendo went too far, and the presenters got too emotional
Ryan starts off talking about a romantic evening, and after describing said evening, Ryan announced, with a knowing smile, “I think we all know that nights like this usually finish with a happy end.” This felt too awkward – they hadn’t established any rapport yet, so it just came off as weird. Yes, I said their “folksiness” worked, but it didn’t work yet.
This didn’t get any better – just look at this “dancin’ in the sheets” dance. Let’s ignore for the moment that this phrase…needs work. More importantly, someone should have told him not to do this:
Yet things went downhill from here. When he was being questioned, Ryan interrupted the Sharks, was incredibly defensive about his product, and was visibly frustrated. When we are visibly frustrated, the audience also gets frustrated in response – not exactly a great sales environment. What Ryan should have done was taken a breath and calmed down; instead, he sped up, and got even more visibly frustrated.
When Mark was questioning Ryan and accusing him of being all over the place, he could have changed tactics a bit and tried to disarm Mark. “I’m sorry Mark, you’re right. I must admit being up here is a bit overwhelming. Can we take a step back?” Normally I’m not an advocate of closed ended questions, but, in this situation, it would have been appropriate. I can’t guarantee this would have worked, but it certainly would have been better than showing frustration.
At the end, Kevin simply said: “I’m sorry, you did a poor job presenting. I’m out.” That about summed it up. Demo killed.
Presentation 4: Wanna Date?
$100K for 20% of Wanna Date?, a date spread company.
Melissa Bartow came out and talked about how she had her first date in college, and since then has had a lot of dates – at least a few every day. She clearly insinuated romantic dates (especially with the product being called “Wanna Date?”), but it turns out she was talking about a date spread. This got the audiences’ attention, and it worked because it was quick. She knew the line for when the joke would get too old, and gave her reveal at just the right time.
For some reason, Barbara decided that she didn’t like Melissa because her dad was helping her live in New York, therefore she wasn’t “desperate enough.” It was a deliberate insult, and Melissa did an excellent job pushing back without taking Barbara’s bait. Instead, Melissa pivoted a bit to focus on how driven she is and how hard she works – eliciting support from the other Sharks. That took a ton of poise – she didn’t get defensive, and countered Barbara’s point well.
For what it’s worth, I thought Barbara was out of line with this questioning, and she looked awfully smug at the end of it. But, will all face audiences like this at some point, and how we handle them will make or break our presentations.
Mark’s offer: 100K for 33%
Melissa probably could have countered, but at this point she seemed so beaten down from Barbara’s comments/happy to get an offer that she took it.