- Company: Combat Flip Flops
- Product: Military-themed flipflops and footwear (for a good cause)
- Owners: Matthew Griffin and Donald Lee
- Asking Price: $150,000 for 10% equity
- Final Deal: $300,000 for 30% equity
- Sharks Who Took The Bait: Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner
- Season/Episode: Season 7, Episode 16
Business Over Bullets
Matthew Griffin and Donald Lee founded Combat Flip-Flops to support women, children, and other disadvantaged populations surviving in war-torn communities. Their mission is fantastic and their product is exciting. They’re seeking $150,000 for 10% equity. They make cool products in dangerous places – and the sharks know it. From the first few moments of Griffin and Lee’s pitch, it’s clear that this business has multi-million dollar potential.
The brand is spread across many products, and the products are spread across the globe. Their best-selling and most brand-central product, their footwear, is made in Bogota, Columbia. Belts, sarongs, scarves and cashmere products are made in Afghanistan – employing women and putting little girls through school who wouldn’t otherwise have a shot at a decent education. One branch of the business makes jewelry out of recovered landmines in Lao. Through the production of a commercial product using local resources, local employees, and respect for regional culture and customs, they produce peaceful, sustainable change in areas that need it the most.
In their words: “Businesses are more powerful than bullets.”
Samples from Colombia, Afghanistan, and Lao are passed around while the two founders discuss their inspiring backstories: they both served in the 2nd ranger battalion, 75th ranger regiment, completing two tours in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq. No matter where they were stationed, they had always talked about starting a business together. It was their dream for years, and now – with the sharks’ help – that dream can finally become reality.
Running the Numbers
The company’s most popular product is the original combat flip flop, aka The Floperator. But the brand also sells a popular men’s sandal called the AK-47 and several full lines of jewelry, accessories, and women’s apparel items. The Floperator is used as a baseline product to gauge financial health.
- Cost of Production: $20 raw materials, plus $4.90 landed – $25 per pair (includes air shipping)
- Retail price: $70
- Revenue stream: 89% online
- Total annual sales: $39,000
- Projected sales: 5% net profitability
Daymond John understands the challenges of their industry. Will they be able to scale this accordingly? They’re upfront and honest about their company’s prospects: they don’t know how to scale, but they know guys who do.
“I’m a huge believer in business over bullets,” says Mark. “We need to exploit the American dream.”
Robert wants to know about scaling: how do they scale up their products to keep up with demand? “I’m going to tell you right now, you have too many products,” he says.
But Griff and Lee are confident in their ability to learn how to scale and to keep up with rising demand. They just signed a Canadian distributor that will be selling to 390 stores, and they have military distribution deals in the works for their footwear product line.
“I think what you’re doing is good,” says Kevin, “but the fundamentals of the business, the diversification of your model, adds a lot of operational and logistics risk.” He thinks they should refocus efforts strictly on footwear. The deal is just too diversified for comfort. He’s first to drop out.
In a great Shark Tank moment, the two founders then ‘mark’ Kevin with a neon orange marker. “It’s what we use to mark the dead,” they quip. The same goes for Robert, who drops out on Kevin’s heels.
Lori is next, and she commends them on the difficulty and the true nobility of what they’re doing. She agrees with other sharks that the brand needs to be focused on one product that is their main strength and then branching out. If another shark goes in with her, Lori would be willing to make an offer.
Mark and Daymond confer in a corner. “We’re both big believers, business over bullets every day. From a purely business perspective, focusing on the core product makes sense – but there’s a bigger picture here. Whatever you’re making in Afghanistan, we want to make more of it.”
Cuban offers $200k for 25% equity, a joint deal with Daymond and himself. Lorie wants in, but Cuban and Daymond balk.
“I think the business needs a feminine touch, guys,” says Griff. This seems to be enough to include Lorie, making it a three-partner investment.
“Then we need 30%,” says Cuban.
“Can you do $300k for 30%?”
After a tense moment, all three sharks agree and a deal is made.
Final Deal: $300,000 for 30% equity.
Where Are They Now?
While the brand’s primary focus is still predominantly footwear, the full product line now includes an impressive (and yes, slightly streamlined) array of footwear, apparel, and accessories, including:
- The Original Coyote Floperator – $39.99
- The Coyote Floperator Shadow – $39.99
- Men’s AK-47 Flip Flop – $59.99
- Women’s Flip Flops (two styles) – $39.99 – $59.99
- Women’s Boots (one style) – $59.99
- Apparel, scarves, patches, jewelry, and headwear – assorted prices
The Combat Flip Flop product line can be purchased directly online through their sleek, well-designed website or through Amazon. Their site also features a cute, customizable form for corporate partnerships.
Since the episode aired, Combat Flip Flops has experienced an uptick in sales and crested a wave of buzz-worthy press from major news outlets around the world, including Fox News, Gizmodo, ABC, TEDx, BBC and MSNBC.
With such a unique and noble mission, undeniable heart, and unbeatable talent to spare, it’s thrilling to see a company like Combat Flip Flop thrive in today’s war-torn world.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is strictly informational; INSIGNIA SEO is not affiliated with Combat Flip Flops, SharkTank, or any of its subsidiaries.