This week’s Shark Tank investments were a bit mind-boggling. The sharks showed that they’re not betting on millennial interests. They passed on two actually interesting concepts — an innovative bike security system and a young woman determined to make tea cool (bear with us on this). What they did go in on were products in pretty safe markets that didn’t quite cater to the interests or needs of a younger generation.
The first product was an ergonomic harness (or potential BDSM toy? JK.), called BetterBack conceived by businesswoman Katherine Krug. Offering the best pitch of the evening, her dream is to “perfect posture effortlessly.” Given that eight out of ten people suffer from back pain, and Americans spend $50 billion annually on this ailment, there’s an audience here. Sitting improperly for nine hours a day will certainly leave you feeling like Quasimodo.
All the sharks strapped on this bad boy and looked quite pleased. But when they found out that — even though Krug was the first solo woman to break the $1 million mark on Kickstarter — none of the 1.3 million people that bought this product in its first month on the market have yet to receive the BetterBack, they freaked.
Barbara Corcoran loved it but thought Krug was asking for too much. Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec gave her garbage offers when QVC queen Lori Greiner said: “It’s deal time.” Krug ran up and gave her a high-five. Greiner and O’Leary entered a bidding war and Lori got the deal. “Because Lori is the queen,” Krug said, “What a bad ass businesswoman and human being.”
Next, there was a flashback (or forward) to a natural deodorant, PiperWai, that Corcoran funded in the past. Sorta made sense to throw money at that. We are a generation that needs to feel righteous and healthy but doesn’t want to always smell like onions. The company was flooded with sales after appearing on the show.
At first, you’re rooting for the brother and sister team of Glace Cryotherapy, since their dad sold his house to fund their venture. But then when you realize there are spas like theirs around the country, and a woman just died in one of these chambers recently, you’re like, meh, maybe not. But the siblings got Herjavec to take it all off and try out the frozen chamber in only his undies. Let’s just say things got a little weird. Corcoran offered $100,000 for 30 percent of the company. They took it.
Now, Mohamed Mohamed from Oakland created something this writer would actually spend money on: a high tech security device for bikes called Linka, “the world’s smartest bike lock.” It locks the wheel but also keeps you posted on its battery life, the history of bike theft in the neighborhood, recommends better places to park your bike, offers directions to that spot, and when stolen, an alarm goes off and you get a tamper alert. This means it probably has a GPS on it, so you could retrieve it if you were so brave. They were not impressed.
Linka was the most useful millennial creation on Shark Tank, and it’s only $129 ($159 with a chain). The worst part was when they encouraged poor Mohamed to tell his parents’ tale of their move from Egypt to the U.S. to give them a better life. Really? You didn’t ask the siblings to talk about the immigration stories of their ancestors or possibly immigrant parents — we’ll never know!
Now the last young lady, Allison DeVane, is truly passionate about tea. As a tea fanatic, this is something almost relatable. DeVane was touting Teaspressa — a concentrated tea made like espresso with a ton of caffeine but no “jitters” or “crash” and interesting flavors. It’s like coffee-tea. They badgered her because she sells in stores and online and didn’t have a solid business model. She started crying saying, “I’m here to make the next Starbucks of tea,” and seemed like she’d genuinely take any advice or cash they’d offer.
The sharks sent her away in tears. For the record, Allison, at first it was like, “I like my tea from a bag,” but after rethinking the idea, this is actually an excellent advancement in beverage creation and consumption and probably something worth buying mom for Christmas.