Some pitches come on strong and instantaneously blow away investors. Others, like Saucemoto's, unravel more slowly but are no less powerful.
With ABC's announcement that its hit reality TV show, Shark Tank, will premiere its 11th season on September 29, the time is fitting to review some of the best pitches from the previous season. One of those pitches was from Saucemoto, a plastic sauce holder that plugs into a car's air vent. When the three co-founders appeared on Shark Tank in May, they told the celebrity judges their product was a "purveyor of freedom" but also solved a legitimate problem for many Americans who regularly consume meals on the go and in their automobiles.
"Since the advent of the drive-through, we've all been faced with a horrible decision when eating in our cars," Michael Koury, one of Saucemoto's co-founders, told the Sharks. "Risk fumbling and making a mess with your dipping sauce or, heaven forbid, having to eat a ketchup-less fry."
The Sharks were howling with laughter as Koury, Tony Lahood, and William Moujaes hopped behind the wheel of a cardboard car and demonstrated dipping a chicken nugget into their $6.99 dip clip. They were seeking $45,000 in exchange for 15 percent of the Cleveland-based business--one of the lower investment amounts to appear on Shark Tank in recent years--and instantly had the judges' attention with witty jokes and sauce-dipping gags.
This product isn't a joke, however. Founders--Koury and Moujaes who became friends in college and teamed up with Koury's cousin Lahood--all grew up thinking fast food was a treat since their parents, who emigrated from Lebanon, typically prepared home-cooked meals. "They never let us eat McDonald's unless it was a special occasion," Moujaes told Inc. As adults, they lost the notion that fast food was something special after spending hours commuting for work and eating most of their meals behind the wheel. They aren't the only ones. In the U.S. about 70 percent of meals are eaten outside the home and 20 percent are consumed in cars.
"I probably eat about 30 percent of mine [in cars]," Mark Cuban told the co-founders after they shared part of that statistic on Shark Tank. That was the turning point for the co-founders as the Sharks saw Saucemoto's product as a solution to a problem instead of a gag gift.
The co-founders launched Saucemoto in 2017 with a successful Kickstarter campaign that sought $10,000 and netted $63,308, bringing the company's lifetime sales to $70,000. Kevin O'Leary, who originally offered the trio $45,000 in exchange for 50 percent equity dropped his proposal to 25 percent, making him an equal partner in the business. Despite his jokes about the seriousness of the product, he believed the best strategy would be selling the product at restaurant drive-through windows.
"We are going to take over the world with this guys," O'Leary told the trio after making the deal. "Now, let's go make hundreds of dollars."
Within two weeks of airing on Shark Tank, the company sold out of the inventory it had in stock and hopes to close 2019 by selling more than one million units through its website and Amazon. Meanwhile, fast-food dipping enthusiasts Koury, Lahood, and Moujaes still maintain their jobs as a mechanical engineer, bar owner, and sales engineer, respectively.