In six seasons of “Shark Tank,” Kevin O’Leary has seen hundreds of presentations from entrepreneurs. One from season five, however, stands out as the most emotional, and he even credits the pitch as the reason why the show won an Emmy for Outstanding Structured Reality Program in 2014.
The Sharks were both shocked and moved by Georges’ genuine desire to selflessly help other farmers with their livelihood, a mission he credits to his father.
Ultimately, guest investor John Paul DeJoria — the billionaire cofounder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and Patrón Tequila — decided that Georges was too good to pass up, and they made a deal. Before leaving the Tank, Georges explained the influence his father had on his life, and the tears started flowing for everyone in the room.
Here’s a breakdown of the pitch.
Johnny Georges worked for his father Rick in the citrus and irrigation industries for over 20 years. In 1984, Georges and his dad developed a plastic, semi-conical device to place around tree roots to block frost and conserve water, and thus energy.
Georges asks for $150,000 in return for 20% of his company. His main goal for the company is to promote water conservation.
In 2009, the University of Florida discovered that trees with T-PEEs used 93% 'less water, fertiliser, electricity, and fuel,' Foodtank reports.
Georges explains that the T-PEEs save farmers money on energy used to power water pumps, as well as fertiliser needed to replenish trees. It doesn't save money on water in Florida, since there's no charge for water like there is in California. So he's selling them in California, right? No, he just sells them to farmers he knows in a five-county area.
The profit margin may be exceptionally low, but Georges confirms that he has a utility patent and no direct competition. This catches DeJoria's attention.
When Mark Cuban asks Georges if any distributors have reached out to him, or if he's reached out to any, Georges looks dumbfounded. He's just been concerned on making personal connections with his clients. It's also why he's kept prices so low. 'I've always tried to be right,' he says.
O'Leary tells Georges that he understands where he's coming from, but it's not a sound business strategy. In order to grow, he'd need distributors, and to get those he'd need a profit margin that paid both them and himself. Because Georges isn't budging, O'Leary pulls out of a deal.
Georges is shaken, but DeJoria jumps in. He tells Georges that he understands the concern that not every farmer could afford something expensive, but he'd be willing to work with him on a compromise. He will give Georges $150,000 for the 20% equity he asked for. 'I like everything you stand for, man,' DeJoria says.
O'Leary sends his regards to Georges' father. Georges says his father died 12 years ago. 'He made me who I am,' Georges says, beginning to cry. 'He was hard on us, but nobody owes you nothin'. Life is what you make it.'
O'Leary tells Business Insider that 'it was a particularly powerful moment in 'Shark Tank,' and no one's going to forget it. Every Shark had a tear in their eye, including me.'
O'Leary says that he was drawn to Georges' patent and personal story, but it was a matter of investing in a business or charity. 'He is a great soul, that man. I'm not sure he is a great businessman,' he says.
But DeJoria tells Business Insider he and his team have been training Georges and that he's progressing well.
DeJoria says he's helped Georges by 'suggesting customers, targeting buyers, and marketing to the right people. The biggest advantage for Johnny was funding and guiding international patent rights so that our world can benefit from it. I have supported Johnny in presenting to major corporations either in person or by personal video messages.'
Tree T-PEE declined to share its revenue, but the night the episode premiered, ABC News reports that Georges got over 56,000 emails with order requests. Tree T-PEE retails for $US9.97 in select Florida Home Depot stores, and DeJoria hopes to get the product into a much wider market.
DeJoria and his team have been fine-tuning Georges' business plan and teaching him proper practices along the way. 'It's exciting to watch him grow and appreciate the continued support he's been receiving since 'Shark Tank,'' DeJoria says.
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