Tuesday, March 11, 2014

@ Buffer Bit: Tastevins, Time Machines, and Shiny Shoes

shark tank buffer bit
By: Pete Troshak
Twitter: @Shak74
Website: www.Shak74.com

If you are the kind of person who stores your power tools near your shoes, boy does Mike Quinn have a product for you. Quinn is the inventor of the Buffer Bit, which is a furry drill bit for your cordless power drill that you can use to shine your shoes. The bit is priced at $19.95 (each costing him $9 to produce), and comes with three different wool pads for polishing different surfaces. The bit can also be used to polish your vehicles and other aluminum and chrome products. Similar items that are self-contained and that just polish shoes can range from around $30 to $100, so this is quite a bargain. Quinn entered the Shark Tank asking for $75,000 for 25% of his company, valuing his Buffer-Bit business at $300,000.



tastevin shark tankIn terms of the product's effectiveness, Mark Cuban tested out the buffer on his shoes, and then subsequently on Daymond's head, and admitted that it worked well. However, the Sharks displayed little interest. They all dropped out rather quickly, with Kevin O'Leary providing a memorable humorous moment while making a speech about why he was dropping out. He told Quinn and his fellow Sharks about how he was a member of a secret society called the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, translated in English as the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Wine-Tasting Cup, which is basically an elite wine-tasting club headquartered in France, in which members meet in various locations around the world to drink Burgundy out of little silver cups called Tastevins. Kevin said he would love to use the Buffer Bit to buff his Tastevin as a customer, but not as an investor.

So why did Quinn's pitch fail? For two reasons:

1) By the time he invented it, it was outdated. Quinn invented a solution to a problem that has already been solved, as there have been home electric shoe polishing systems on the market for years. And not only that, he created a solution with a target audience which Lori refers to as "a dying breed." In other words, there are less people wearing dress shoes that need to be polished and less people polishing their shoes than there were 20 or 30 years ago. Nowadays, casual is the new dressy - just take a look at how the entrepreneurs dress up for their Shark Tank pitches! That said, if someone had invented a time machine that would let Quinn sell the item a few decades ago, the Sharks would have for sure been in a frenzied battle to be his partner. But the current shoe shine market is just not big enough for the Sharks to want a piece of.

kevin o'leary shark tank wine tasting silver cup2) The focus of his pitch was wrong. Quinn built his presentation around convincing the Sharks that he had created a great option to shine shoes. He failed to stress the other applications of the product, namely the fact that you can polish your car, boat, bike and other chrome and aluminum products with it. In the part of his presentation that was broadcast, Quinn really didn't defend his product or mention its other possible uses, which limited the chance of the Sharks investing. This is the kind of product that would seem to be a natural fit for an infomercial or As Seen On TV / QVC type of sale. If properly marketed, Quinn could probably sell a ton of Buffer Bits for Father's Day or Christmas, as dad's stereo-typically like gadgets and are hard to shop for. He made a good product that works and that isn't expensive, but then failed to educate the Sharks of the products versatility. This critical mistake in how he chose to pitch his invention definitely played a role in the Sharks' disinterest in the Buffer Bit.

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