In this weekly series, I recap episodes of the popular ABC reality show Shark Tank, focusing on the businesses and products that are relevant to families.
I am an absolute Shark Tank junkie. It is hands down the best–and possibly the only–reality TV worth watching. I record every single episode of the popular ABC show, which airs on Friday at 9 PM Eastern. And then on Saturday night after I put the kids to bed, I sit at the edge of my couch hanging on to every word uttered by “sharks.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, here’s the premise: One by one, entrepreneurs pitch their startup or small business to a panel of wealthy investors–sharks–offering a piece of their company in exchange for an investment that they would use to grow their business.
Curiously, and perhaps not surprisingly, many of the entrepreneurs are moms and dads and many of featured products and services target families.
Here’s a recap of the family friendly pitches from Shark Tank: episode 518 of season 5. It first aired on 28 February 2014.
ZipIt Bedding: Say Goodbye to Messy, Un-Made Beds
What is it: Created by two moms, Zipit bedding is a comforter and fitted sheet joined together that’s based on the sleeping bag concept. Instead of having to make up your bed, you can just ZIP UP your bed. The twin set costs $49.99 (plus shipping and handling); the full set costs $59.99. Each set comes with a free Zipit zippered pillowcase.
How it works: It’s one of those products best demonstrated, so here’s their commercial.
Who is it for: Clearly, the entrepreneurs are marketing this product exclusively to children: The color schemes, for one, are a dead giveaway; also the largest set is for a Full-sized bed. But that’s a shame, because it would have nonmilitary trained dads (like me) who struggle to even find the proper edges of a fitted sheet. It’s a nightmare.
Why you should consider it: My children haven’t tested it yet, but Zipit Bedding seems to be a novel solution to a very real problem. If making up beds is hard for dads, surely it’s got to be overwhelming for a 3rd grader. The entrepreneurs didn’t get a deal on the show–mainly because they refused to abandon their plans to spend money on a commercial–at least all of the sharks seemed at least mildly impressed by their product. Given the sharks’ experience, that alone is an endorsement worth mentioning.
What is it: An “un-paper towel”/cloth that’s made from a bamboo. Unlike ordinary paper towels, Bambooee can be washed–even machine washed–and reused up to 100 times. The founders claim that one roll of Bambooee (I love that name!) replaces up to 286 rolls of regular paper towels. And one sheet of their other product, Bambooee Sweeps, replaces up to 100 Swiffer sweeper pads. Theoretically, you’ll also be saving money since a roll of Bambooee is roughly $12 and 286 rolls of paper towel likely cost at least $100; as for Bambooee Sweeps, an 8-pack costs $10, compared to $250 for 800 Swiffer pads.
How it works: The exact material properties and the manufacturing process are proprietary. But the operation of the product is simple: It’s a paper towel. You use it to wipe things, like spills, dishes, windows, and hands.This is another product best demonstrated, so check out this video (and listen carefully at 00:40; hilarious!):
Who is it for: Every paper towel commercial on TV features parents. The reason is simple: kids, and husbands/dads (again, see 00:40 above).
Why you should consider it: If you ever feel guilty about not recycling enough, or not doing enough for the environment, as I sometimes do, then this is a feel-good product. For every Bambooee roll they sell, the company plants a tree. However, it might be debatable how eco-friendly Bambooee is, since the cloth is not biodegradable. But if the product works as claimed, it certainly feels good to save money on paper towels–and thankfully, financial and environmental conservation are quite often correlated.
What is it: Invented by a mom who is also a pediatrician (moms are prolific entrepreneurs!), Buzzy is a device that uses high-frequency vibrations and ice packs to numb an area on the body before an injection. The individual model starts at $39.99.
How does it work: The vibrations and the cooling block the pain receptors, so that when the needle enters the area, the brain does not receive the message, Ouch, that hurts! Here’s their YouTube commercial.
Who is it for: Anyone with needle-phobia, especially kids, which is why the design is of a bumblebee. That said, the Buzzy website lists multiple uses across all the demographics and clinical institutions. In other words, it’s for anyone who would rather not feel pain when they get a vaccine. In other words, it’s for everyone.
Why you should consider it: If this really works as advertised, then it’s a no-brainer for parents with young children. Nothing’s worse than hearing your toddler scream bloody murder while you hold her down in the mean pediatrician’s office.
Which of these products would you buy for your home?