It sounds like a good idea, and it is. But as the product’s creators, Irina Zikner and Lilly Stesin, discovered on Tuesday night’s episode of Shark Tank, it’s just not an original one.
The mother-daughter team went on the program seeking $110,000 for 30 per cent equity in their company, I Love Earth, along with the sharks’ “expertise…mentorship…hearts…passion” to bring their eco-friendly, waste-reducing products to the globe.
“We really want to change the world. You see, we’re not doing this just for ourselves. We’re not doing this for our family. We’re doing this for you and your kids and your grandkids, and future generations, and all of Australia, and all of the globe, hopefully. We really need to make a change in waste pollution in Australia. You see, we’re not just a brand either,” Lilly said. “We’re a movement. So please, please help us and invest.”
Once Shark Steve Baxter finished rolling his eyes (turns out the billionaire tech investor doesn’t “like being preached to” about his choices of consumer goods), he queried the pair’s claim that I Love Earth Cups have only one competitor worldwide.
“So if I were to Google it, I wouldn’t find like about the first page full of competitors?” Baxter asked.
“No, not a brand,” Lilly replied. “Yeah, not, not, not, not a brand of it, no.”
So naturally, Steve whipped out his phone.
“They’re everywhere. ‘Shop for a collapsible coffee cup.’ ‘Silicone coffee cup,’ ‘collapsible, portable,’ ‘collapsible’,” he read, scrolling down his screen. “When you’re talking to investors, don’t have them Google it, find the competitor, and then wonder what else you’ve told us that’s not correct. Because that’s the problem you’ve now got.”
No prizes for guessing what happened next.
Yep, Steve was out.
— #SharkTankAU (@sharktankau) July 17, 2018
Glen Richards fell next. The Greencross Vet founder took issue with the use of plastic for the lid and heat sleeve, as well as the durability of the design (the product will last 18 months when used daily).
“You’ve ended up making me buy a certain cup, but I’m still buying lots of plastic,” he said.
“I think you’ve got to do a lot more work around the materials you’re using, and the design to get something that is 100 per cent eco-friendly.”
Red Balloon founder Naomi Simson echoed Richards’ admiration for the women’s passion and desire to create a movement, but said their product was not different enough. Janine Allis and Andrew Banks followed, the former citing the crowded market and the latter the high cost of manufacturing the cups.
But with products stocked in 60 stores and cafes in Melbourne and Byron Bay (“Of course,” said Baxter, again with an eye roll) and $32,000 in sales so far, the family business owners weren’t perturbed.
“We know we’re going to make it,” Irina said.
“We know,” her daughter added. “We have the belief.”
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