Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Flashback: Bombas

Socks are hard to sell. 

For one, they are usually being covered up by shoes and pants legs, making it difficult to show them off. But even more so, there aren't really too many ways to make your brand of socks better than others. You can add a design like stripes, but there are thousands of socks out there with stripes (and of course many other patterns).

But what if you can make them unique in other ways. What if you spent two full years on researching ways to re-engineer socks to improve everything from the material to the stitching? And what if every time you sold a pair of socks, you gave away a pair to a homeless person?

Well this is exactly what Bombas did.

In Season 6, Bombas entered the Shark Tank asking for a $200,000 investment in exchange for 5% equity in their new sock company, placing a $4 million valuation on it. After spending two years on research and development, Bombas created a sock that is truly the top of the line in terms of quality, comfort, and design. And not surprisingly, their numbers showed it, as they did $450,000 in sales in their first year with spending no money on advertising. The quality, along with the goodwill of the company's mission generated these sales organically. 

Now although these sales were impressive, the Sharks gave the founders a hard time with this valuation, and all but one dropped out. Daymond John, the fashion guru in the Tank, was the only Shark who believed in both the product and the entrepreneurs enough to invest, and they ultimately agreed on a deal for $200,000 plus uncapped inventory financing in exchange for 17.5% of the company.

Since then, it has been one success after another.

In the two months after airing on Shark Tank, Bombas did over $1.2 million in sales. And to date, they have reached the $50 million sales mark. But what's even more impressive is the amount of socks the company has given away. In less than five years Bombas has donated over four million socks to people who need them, and have been a supportive force for other non-profits as well.

$50 million in sales. 4 million socks donated to the homeless. 

That is entrepreneurship.

Click here to read more about socks!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Seventy2 Survival Kit

If disaster strikes, what would you need in order to survive for 72 hours?

Christian Schauf and Mike Escamilla have that all figured out.

The two entrepreneurs walked into the Shark Tank on the second episode of Season 9, to seek an investment for their product, the Seventy2, otherwise known as the world's first fully-integrated survival system. The Seventy2 is a bag packed with survival essentials including food, lights, gloves, a blanket, an air filtration mask, a water filter, and a shovel that converts into a pick-axe. The idea is for people to keep these bags in their homes (and wherever they go) so they are prepared in case of an emergency situation. And in times where hurricanes and other severe weather patterns are forcing people out of their homes, this product can literally be a life-saver.

The entrepreneurs came in seeking $100,000 in exchange for 5% of their company, which imputes a $2 million evaluation on their company. While this evaluation seems high at first glance, Christian and Mike did have numbers to show for it. After six months of business, the product has already sold $700,000 of product in 64 countries. And to get the business off the ground, they raised $400,000 through a crowdfunding campaign in just one month!

Very quickly it became obvious to the Sharks that these entrepreneurs have the tools needed to survive. But for this very reason, Mark went out because he doesn't like being "dumb money" for businesses that don't really need more than just cash. Barbara didn't seem very interested in the business from an investment standpoint, and she dropped out as well. Robert though offered a proportionate $200,000 for 10%, and gave them just a brief window of time to make a decision. And before Lori could even get her offer out on the table, the entrepreneurs used their survival instincts to act quickly and take Robert's deal.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Shark Spotlight: Sir Richard Branson

Richard Branson is a serial entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist.
He founded the Virgin Group, which has created more than 400 companies spanning travel, financial services, telecom, health & wellness, and more recently, space travel.
At the age of sixteen his first business venture was a magazine called Student. In 1970, he set up a mail-order record business. In 1971, he opened the first of a chain of Virgin record stores, later known as Virgin Megastores. Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he set up Virgin Atlantic airline and expanded the Virgin Records music label. In 1999, Branson was knighted at Buckingham Palace for "services to entrepreneurship."
For his work in retail, music and transport (with interests in land, air, sea and space travel), his taste for adventure and for his humanitarian work, he became one of the most prominent figures in British culture. In 2002, he was named in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. In January 2016, Forbes listed Branson's estimated net worth at $5.2 billion.
Source: ABC.com

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Alex Rodriguez: From Baseball to the Shark Tank

Season 9 of Shark Tank features some new guest Sharks, one of which is none other than former baseball player Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod). It is becoming more and more common to see major league athletes build companies around their name, and A-Rod is one of these athletes. 
Check out this Forbes article by Ky Trang Ho which gives great insight into A-Rod's company and his winning mentality: 
This fall baseball icon Alex Rodriguez is diving into the Shark Tank -- ABC’s hit business reality show.
“I’m very proud that I’m the first Hispanic shark,” said the former Yankees slugger, known as A-Rod. “I’m the first athlete shark, which is kind of cool.” What’s really cool? You should know: A-Rod is about as big a power hitter in business as he was America’s pastime.
His A-Rod Corp holding company has a hand in auto dealerships, gyms and real estate with a payroll of about 500 employees. It’s a rare diamond in the business world considering only 0.3% of the 5.9 million U.S. companies employ more than 500 people.
A Shark Tank entrepreneur would commit a major foul in declining an offer from the three-time MVP.

His 953,000 followers on Twitter, 1 million on Instagram and 1.5 million on Facebook will score eyeballs galore for any product. He could go to bat for companies seeking deals with professional sports teams or leagues.
“The potential of one plus one equals three is always in play if you partner with me,” Rodriguez said in a recent phone interview. “I can pretty much get you wherever you need to be to either show your pitch or show your product. If you are someone who needs to get into Walmart, we’ll go out and get you a meeting with their top executives.”
Champion of the Fastest-Growing Market
No other shark could wield as much influence over the fastest growing U.S. demographic like this bilingual Dominican American. At nearly 57 million, Hispanics account for 18% of the U.S. population and are expected to more than double over the next four decades, according to Nielsen. Their buying power of $1.3 trillion eclipses the gross domestic product of Russia -- the world’s 12th largest economy. If they were a state, it would be the fourth largest behind California, Texas and New York. Hispanic buying power is projected to hit $1.7 trillion in three years.
Should Rodriguez’s girlfriend join the game, the marketing potential multiplies exponentially. Actress and pop star Jennifer Lopez sports 42.9 million Twitter followers, 68.8 million on Instagram and 42.2 million on Facebook.
In the Shark Tank, the World Series champion considers himself a rookie. He’s more focused on finding good entrepreneurs with a strong management team than striking a home run with the next fidget spinner.
“It's always been my philosophy that I invest in jockeys and not horses,” said the 14-time All-Star. “Even if that business doesn't work, this is somebody I want to be in business with and perhaps I can bring them into one of my other projects. And we can build something because I believe in people. People actually run the business. People and players actually win championships.”
This article is sponsored by Merchant Account Solutions. Take a look at some of their great point-of-sale solutions such as the Clover Register.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The CEO of Tower Paddle Board Created A Brand

tower paddle boards shark tank
As good as any new idea or product may be, no investor is willing to put down money until he/she has complete confidence in the entrepreneur behind it. Read this great article by Denise Lee Yohn of Forbes about how Stephan Aarstol, the CEO of Tower Paddle Board, is the exemplification of an entrepreneur worthy of getting an investment from the Sharks.

For many entrepreneurs, appearing on the TV show Shark Tank is ultimate win. But for Stephan Aarstol, founder and CEO of Tower Paddle Boards, being on the show was just a stepping stone in his quest to build a great brand.

Of course, Aarstol’s start-up paddle board company, Tower Paddle Boards, gained broad exposure from his Shark Tank segment and the deal he forged with billionaire Mark Cuban. Before he appeared on the show, company gross revenue for the first half of the year was a mere $100,000. Afterwards, annual revenues jumped to $1.7 million, and then $3.1 million, and hit approximately $5 million in 2014. Aarstol also credits Cuban with advising on bigger picture strategy and suggesting growth opportunities such as making custom boards.

But the foundation for Tower Paddle Board’s success was laid well before Aarstol’s Shark Tank appearance. The impetus behind its growth was Aarstol’s insight into innovation which he explained to me in an interview. He told me there are three types of innovation. The first is product innovation, which Aartsol describes as the riskiest and toughest. “A lot of times you innovate on a product and then there isn’t a market there,” he says. “There are a lot of unknowns, so that’s the innovation of big companies.”

Smaller companies that can’t afford to take such risks can innovate on distribution. He points to Netflix as an example, saying “Netflix took Blockbuster’s business model of giving people movies in their home, but instead of going to a store, they get them by mail and now they download them.” He says distribution innovation is much easier and, “In today’s world, that’s where the huge gains are being made.” Uber serves as another example of this kind of innovation.

Then there’s marketing innovation done by the likes of companies including Google and Facebook. “They never advertise. They have a product that’s so compelling, it creates a network marketing effect,” Aarstol explains. “Your customer experience becomes much more important. It’s got to be so over the top that customers will tell their friends.”

shark tank tower paddle boardsMarketing innovation has driven Tower Paddle Board’s success. While other paddle board companies were either selling through specialty retailers or direct through fancy websites and traditional advertising campaigns, Aarstol decided to “hack the system” and use search engine optimization and social media to grow his business. Simply by showing up first in search results and sparking word of mouth marketing, Tower has become a popular brand with a legion of customers and followers. In fact, his zero spend on advertising got the attention of the Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary aka Mr. Wonderful (whose deal offer Aarstol turned down in favor of Cuban’s.)

Aarstol’s intuition about his brand also extends well beyond what his Shark Tank success proved. He describes his company as “an online marketing agency that owns a surf brand” and a player in a constantly evolving field. So he says he is always trying to reinvent what they’re doing and ultimately he wants to build a brand that accommodates that flexibility. He holds Richard Branson’s Virgin group of companies as a model and is building his brand to embody the beach lifestyle in many different categories. Flip flops, sunglasses, bikes, surf boards, and other adventure sports are among the 25 companies he has planned for Tower. His goal, to roll out 2-3 companies each year, seems do-able given that they’re all based on the same business model and leverage Tower’s existing strong partnerships with Amazon and daily deals site Woot.

In addition to Aarstol’s insight into marketing innovation and far-sightedness of brand flexibility, Tower’s success rides on his foresight into the future of brand-building. He states, “Every brand is now a media brand,” and he says that energy drink Red Bull has demonstrated the power in creating the media for its target market. That’s why Tower has created its own magazine and amassed 25,000 subscribers. His plan is to launch every new company through the magazine and establish the disruptive nature of the brand through it. “We’re doing marketing backwards,” Aarstol explains. “We’re finding our audience, making them happy, and building a brand before we ever even try to sell them anything.”

These aren’t just claims from an eager entrepreneur. Tower Paddle Boards has been named among the fastest growing private companies in San Diego and top 10 innovative products of INC 500 companies and hailed as a spotlight customer for Amazon and PayPal.

Aarstol may have Shark Tank to thank for fanning the flames of his company’s growth, but his unique take on how to build a brand today ignited Tower’s initial spark and continues to fuel its fire.

Denise Lee Yohn is a brand-building expert, speaker and author of What Great Brands Do and the upcoming book, Extraordinary Experiences.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Blog Shark Tank Rapid Interview: Spy Escape and Evasion

spy escape shark tank
In Season 5 of Shark Tank, former CIA officer, Jason Hanson pitched his Spy Escape and Evasion training business to the Sharks. After getting an investment from Daymond John and turning his business into a brand, Jason has been hard at work doing what he loves - making people safe and growing his business. Blog Shark Tank recently caught up with Jason and asked him a few questions about his Shark Tank experience and entrepreneurship. Here goes:

1) What is Spy Escape and Evasion all about?
My company teaches the average American spy secrets to keep them safer on a daily basis. This includes how to escape duct tape, rope, zip ties... how to pick locks... how to detect lies... how to determine if someone is following you... and much more.

2) What gave you the idea or inspiration to start your business?
I spent almost 7 years working for the CIA. I believe all of us want to make sure our family is protected and safe.

3) Do you think Spy Escape and Evasion would have the same success it has today had it not been featured on Shark Tank?
Shark Tank was a huge blessing. I think I would have had the same success but it would have taken me a lot longer to get there. Shark Tank made it happen quicker.

4) What did you do to prepare for your pitch once your business was accepted?
I watched every episode of Shark Tank, I read all of the books the Sharks had written and I practiced my pitch over 1,000 times.

5) How long was the actual pitch in the Shark Tank?
About 55 minutes.

6) How involved has Daymond been as an investor, and how often do you speak or meet with him?
daymond shark tankIn the beginning we spoke about once per week. Now that we’ve been together awhile we only talk when we need to. Daymond is down to earth and a great guy.

7) What are some of the sacrifices you have made as an entrepreneur?
I’ve probably forgot most of them because there were so many. Things ranging from lack of sleep to doing whatever it takes to get the job done.

8) As an entrepreneur, do you ever look back at the cross-roads of your business or career choices and have regrets, or do you only look forward?
I only look forward. I don’t have any regrets. I’m very happy with where I am at.

9) Who do you look up to, and what inspires you?
I look up to entrepreneurs who realize family comes first and who realize what a blessing they have been giving. Also those who realize it’s their duty to give back to others. What inspires me is to help keep others safe and to be the best at what I do.

10) What are 3 tips you have to aspiring entrepreneurs - people who know they want to create something big, but just haven't been able to do it yet?
- You have to realize not everyone is made to be an entrepreneur. If you can’t handle risk it’s not for you.
- Get up at 5am. Work to at least 5pm daily. If you aren’t willing to put in at least 12 hours a day you won’t make it and don’t want it badly enough.
- If you never quit, you’ll eventually make it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

In The Shark Tank, It's All About Valuation

By: David Bookbinder
Director of Valuation Services,
GBQ Consulting

Why do the entrepreneurs and the Sharks differ on valuation? 

The entrepreneurs are passionate about their business and believe their vision of the future will turn out exactly as presented. The Sharks, on the other hand, know from experience that a lot can go wrong and that most small businesses fail. Therefore, if the Sharks are going to write a big check to an entrepreneur, they will need to get a substantial rate of return on that investment to compensate them for taking the risk.

Let’s start with an example. You already know that when the entrepreneurs ask for their desired investment, they’ve placed a value on their company. For example, asking $100,000 for a 10% stake in the company implies a $1 million valuation ($100k/10% = $1M).

But if the Sharks feel that the business is really worth only half of that, they would counter with an offer of $100,000 for a 20% stake. ($100k investment /20% ownership = $500,000 valuation)

If the valuation isn't right for the Sharks, they will pass on the deal, but have you ever wondered how the Sharks determine their valuations?

Sharks are experienced investors and they arrive at their valuations very quickly. But don’t let their speed fool you into thinking that they are simply guessing or just being greedy. Although not apparent to the viewer, the Sharks are utilizing several methodologies in arriving at their valuations. Allow me to explain what’s behind their questions and how the Sharks arrive at their valuations.

It all starts with the Sharks asking questions about recent sales, but their real focus is on what the business is expected to achieve in the years to come.

This is because, at its essence, the value of a business is equal to the current value of what it is expected to earn in the future. In other words, valuation is less about “what have you done for me lately” and more about “what will you do for me tomorrow?”

So the Sharks will estimate the earning potential of the business for the next few years, and with a Shark-like required rate of return to compensate for risk, those estimated future earnings can be converted into a current value through a mathematical technique known as discounting. This is the premise of an Income-based valuation methodology known as a discounted cash flow analysis.

Without getting into the detail, the important considerations behind the math of a discounted cash flow analysis are: 1) the greater the risk of the investment, the higher the required rate of return to compensate for that risk; and 2) the higher the required rate of return that is applied to expected future earnings, the lower the present value of those future earnings.

Without even doing the math, you can understand why the Sharks will not pay a high price for an extremely risky investment.

But the Sharks will do the math, so they know what the risk-adjusted value of the next few years of estimated earnings are worth.

However, those next few years of earnings only tell a part of the story and represent but a portion of the total value of the business.

To get the rest of the story, the Sharks also need to determine the value of the earnings in the years that follow these near-term estimates.

Trying to estimate future earnings for another 10 or 20 years is an exercise that can tax even the best crystal ball, but the Sharks can shortcut the process by considering how long they intend to remain invested in the business, and at what price they might be able to sell their investment at that time.

To estimate the total value of the business, the present value of the exit price is added to the present value of the estimated near-term earnings.

All of this happens in mere minutes on television… but this is just one method for determining value.

The Sharks will also use a Market-based valuation method, which is based on metrics by which similar businesses have transacted. If you've ever bought a house, you already understand the principles of comparison and substitution that are inherent in a Market-based valuation method.

For example, when comparing the relative value of different houses, you can calculate the price per square foot to help make an informed decision about what you’re getting for the money. This is a type of valuation multiple.

Similarly, when companies are sold (or traded on a stock exchange) their valuation is often expressed as a multiple of sales or earnings. So when you hear the Sharks talk about “the multiple” when discussing the entrepreneur’s valuation, they are referring to the implied multiple of sales or earnings expressed in relation to the overall valuation.

For example, if the entrepreneur’s desired valuation is $1 million and the business generated $10,000 of sales last year, the price/sales multiple is equal to $1M/$10k, or 100 times last year’s sales. The Sharks will assess these valuation multiples on a forward-looking basis as well (i.e., as a multiple of next year’s estimated sales).

When you hear the Sharks complain that “the multiple is ridiculous,” you’ll know that the lower the financial performance metric (the denominator), the higher the implied multiple; and the Sharks are not keen on paying high multiples for performance that may never materialize.

Other factors that the Sharks might consider in their valuation include intangible assets, like the value of the brand, patents and people. They will also assess how a particular business might fit in with other businesses they already own (synergies) as well as the fact their affiliation alone will likely enhance the value of the business, although investors are generally not inclined to pay for what they bring to the table.

Having considered Income-based and Market-based valuation methods, the Sharks have a good idea of what the business is worth, but they aren't done yet.

Unlike an investment in stocks, an investment in the Shark Tank can’t be exited in a matter of seconds with a sell order. The lack of a ready market to sell the investment reduces the value of the investment, so the Sharks must also consider a discount for the lack of liquidity.

Lastly is the matter of who calls the shots. The Sharks want control and the entrepreneurs do not want to give it to them.

So the Sharks will also need to consider a discount for lack of control when taking a minority stake.

The Sharks now have their valuations – and let the negotiations begin!

So the next time you’re watching Shark Tank, you can impress your friends with your knowledge of valuation.

That's all I have to say on this subject, so for that reason... I’m out.


About the Author:

Dave Bookbinder is a Director of Valuation Services at GBQ Consulting where he helps his clients with the valuation of businesses, intellectual property, and complex financial instruments. More than a valuation expert, Dave lends his business experiences to help people with a variety of matters.