‘Shark Tank’ Season 11 Episode 7 sees Andy's peanut butter pump but judges detect a clog up the line
Innovative thinking is at the core of ‘Shark Tank’. However, while unique products are much appreciated, they also need to be worthwhile for profit generation. Take Andy Scherer’s Peanut Butter Pump for instance. At first glance, the product seems trendy and innovative. However, as you dig deeper into its functionality, as did the judges, you realize that it might look fascinating at first but it cannot have long-term benefits. The idea of the pump is to make peanut butter dispensing a more efficient, faster, and cleaner job. And as demonstrated by Andy, the pump actually does it all. So, when he asks for only $200,000 with 15% of his company’s stake on offer, it did not sound too unrealistic. But the viability of the product soon became the most debatable point.
When we talk about dispensing butter or any spread, there are two main points that came to our minds, as it did to the judges, particularly Kevin, who considers himself to be a ‘peanut butter connoisseur.' You need to consider the product variations of every peanut butter brand. The pump seems to dispense a smooth, paste-like consistency of the butter. So, this means that with butter that has peanut chunks or other added ingredients that make it crunchy, there would be chances of the pump clogging.
Secondly, the pump is too cumbersome to be stored in the refrigerator. This leads to the most pertinent question and the ever-existing debate if peanut butter should or should not be refrigerated. To this, Kevin had his pertinent points to make. One school of thought says that peanut butter should be refrigerated since it tends to separate the oils in a warmer environment. The other school of thought believes that refrigeration is not mandatory for peanut butter. Andy’s product, however, leaned more towards the second category of consumers. While we understand narrowing down your target audience, you cannot also block other consumer groups from even considering your product.
The idea of the pump was to make use of peanut butter an easy and efficient task. And there is no consumer in the market today that would not want efficiency and convenience in every product that they buy. Hence, making a pump that can only dispense chunk-free peanut butter and has to be kept outside the fridge will automatically eliminate almost half the customer base. Also, operationally speaking, the cost of the pump also does not justify its utility. For $27 per piece and a 30% profit margin, the product did not seem viable enough.
As such, the judges were not ready to invest in such a product and thought that it does not quite ‘solve’ a problem, as did we. This goes to show, that no matter how fancy a product looks, it needs to be completely user-friendly for every customer segment, and it needs to be commercially profitable.
While the aim of the show is to encourage aspiring and budding entrepreneurs to think outside the box and bring unique products to the table, it is also to introduce the world to better products and interesting business ideas that can make a difference in our lives.
‘Shark Tank’ Season 11 airs on ABC, every Sunday at 9 PM ET.