They say that sharks are natural hunters, but Sunday’s “Shark Tank” had the sharks leaving the tank to chase after two entrepreneurs.
Marc Lickfett and Mikael Soderlindh are the creator of Knife Aid, a mail service knife sharpening company. Drop your dull blades in the post, and in less than a week and for $10 a knife, the company will make them sharp enough to cut through a pineapple or rope (as sharks Kevin O’Leary and Rohan Oza demonstrated).
Soderlindh has experience building successful global brands, including Swedish clothing brand Happy Socks. But because of a past failure, the two came on the show seeking the help of a shark who better understands the U.S. market.
Mikael Soderlindh and Marc Lickfett, entrepreneurs from Malibu, California, have modernized an age-old craft by offering knife sharpening by mail. They brought their company to "Shark Tank." (Photo: Eric McCandless, ABC)
“We had another brand going into the American market without having American people involved in the business,” Soderlindh said. “I’m not going to do that mistake again.”
Shark Lori Greiner liked their concept: “You’re fresh. You’re unique. You’re different. You’ve already got the packaging down. It’s really quite good. I think you are smart in needing to know what the market is here.” She offered them $200,000 and an additional $200,000 as a line of credit for a 20% stake.
Not responding to the offer, the two entrepreneurs discussed their plans to put advertising for their service in retail stores. An exasperated Greiner raised her phone and mimed a scroll through her contact list: “Listen guys, I could be like, ‘Pick a contact. Any contact.’ Everything I offered you is what you’re asking for.”
The sharks in the tank this week: Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O'Leary, Lori Greiner, Rohan Oza (Photo: Eric McCandless, ABC)
But O’Leary wanted them on Team Chef Wonderful. He offered them $400,000 for 20% of their company. “I have all the same contacts, but I have something she doesn’t have. I’m Chef Wonderful. Chef Wonderful is huge in cakes, chocolates and meats. Google him, he’s fantastic.”
Matching O’Leary’s offer, Greiner sweetened the deal by partnering with Oza. Soderlindh and Lickfett would get double the sharks for the same price. Oza said: “When you get the Queen of Retail and put that together with the King of Branding, that’s quite the pairing.”
But Greiner wasn’t the only one who could partner. O’Leary teamed up with fellow shark Barbara Corcoran; they offered $500,000 for 20%.
But the creators of Knife Aid were reluctant to accept either offer. Greiner noticed they kept glancing at shark Mark Cuban, who was notably quiet: “Are you waiting for Mark to give you an offer?”
For his part, Cuban believed he could bolster Knife Aid’s brand awareness, but he would wait to see what they decided with the deals they had been offered.
Before stepping into the hallway to discuss the deals with Lickfett, Soderlindh asked the sharks how passionate they were about his company and how much time they would invest. O’Leary and Greiner each insisted they were the best shark for the job.
Cuban shook his head at his fellow sharks: “Damn, you guys grovel enough? I don’t beg or grovel. I’m a (expletive) shark.”
“I am not above doing whatever it takes,” Greiner replied, and to prove her point, she decided she had waited long enough. She left the tank to track down Soderlindh and Lickfett. “You want to know about passion. I’m not sitting and waiting. I want this deal.”
O’Leary was right behind her, followed by Oza and Corcoran. Soderlindh was interested in making a deal with Greiner and Oza, but wanted them to match the $500,000. The two sharks quickly agreed and struck the deal.
“Having four sharks running after us into the hallways is something I would have never dreamed of,” Soderlindh said.
Back in the tank, Cuban agreed: “It’s a new breed of shark that grovels.”
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