- Company: InstaFire
- Product: Water-repellent, instant fire-starter
- Asking Price: $300,000 for 10% equity
- Final Deal: $300,000 for 30% equity
- Sharks Who Took the Bait: Mark and Lori
- Season/Episode: Season 7, Episode 19
Baptism By Fire
Frank Weston and Konel Banner were life-long outdoorsmen who developed a revolutionary product through a combination of hard work, good luck, and extensive experience working with fire. They made a spectacular entrance at the top of Season 7, Episode 19, and set the shark tank ablaze with their water-repellent, instant firestarter.
Their presentation – equal parts science fair, magic show, and survivalist training camp – dazzled the sharks and earned them the deal of a lifetime (more on that later).
InstaFire: A Quick Recap
At first glance, this inventive duo seems to be selling either high-octane birthday candles or leather apparel. Frank and Konel stride confidently through the tank’s double doors – Frank carrying their miracle fire-starter on a serving tray in front of him, and Konel dressed head to toe in fringed leather, complete with suede gloves and a hat that looks like something out of Indiana Jones. The sharks make the requisite “oohs” and “ahs,” and settle in for what is sure to be an entertaining pitch.
The pair is from Riverdale, Utah, and their company is InstaFire. They’re seeking $300,000 for a 10% stake in their business. They’re careful not to oversell, nor to understate the magnitude of their product. “We didn’t invent fire,” Frank says. “We perfected it.” Konel takes this as his cue to demonstrate how, exactly, fire can be perfected.
Konel holds a handful of the product in his gloved hand – an earthy, pebbly mix of powders somewhere between birdseed and kitty litter – and lights it with an ordinary pocket lighter. While the flame burns in his open palm, he continues: “This can withstand a 20-30 mile-an-hour wind,” he says, and drops the powder into a bowl of water. Instead of extinguishing with the expected hiss and smolder of fire behaving normally in water, it continues – miraculously – to burn. Lori looks on, her eyes growing wide with astonishment. At this point it’s safe to say they’ve got the sharks’ attention. The fire continues burning while Konel explains that their firestarter is gentle enough to use in a grill (it won’t burn out the bottom of a charcoal grill, for instance) and safe enough to be extinguished by itself.
With a little help from some portable props, Frank demonstrates the ease of using InstaFire in both a campfire and charcoal grill setting. They’ve even invented a cellulose pouch for easy, ash-free extinguishing of charcoal grills. Next, it’s back over to Connel with the question of the century: Have you ever wondered how you’re going to boil your water or cook your food in an emergency?
“Every day,” says Mark. (This is why people love Mark.)
Mark’s in luck, as it turns out – because, as Connel explains, 1 cup of InstaFire will boil 4 cups of water, inside of ten minutes.
Lori’s intrigued but, as usual, wants to handle the merchandise. Frank hands out samples to the sharks while Konel shares the charming origin story of their product. Konel took the idea for InstaFire, he says, from an old man at a mountain man rendezvous – a phrase and concept that most Americans had no idea even existed before this episode (thanks, Shark Tank). Robert asks what their ultimate vision is for the product – do they see it as an emergency fuel? An outdoor product? What’s their endgame, here?
Frank is ready with an answer: their vision began as an emergency fuel, but expanded organically when they saw the product’s versatility and its raw potential for commercial use.
Running The Numbers
Over seven years, Frank and Konel say they’ve done $2.1 million in sales. Kevin’s surprised at this number, given the strength of their product. He expected something higher. The duo elaborates. In the last year, Konel says, they’ve done $378,000 – but in the next year they project $850,000. Mark, ever the practical businessman, asks for their selling price and their cost of production.
- Cost of production: 18.5 cents per unit (all-in, includes packaging and labor)
- Wholesale price: $74
- Retail: $149
- Profit margin: 99%
- Patented: Yes
With numbers like these, the sharks are shocked that the duo’s sales aren’t stronger. Robert and Mark are convinced there’s a catch. “What am I missing?” says Robert. “You guys are great, you’ve been doing this for seven years, it works…” And Mark pipes up with a possible explanation. “There must be a competitor.” But the duo explains that they only started serious marketing efforts in the last year and a half, and that most of their big time buyers – Home Depot, Ace, Cabela’s, etc – have only come on in the past three months.
Skeptical of the company’s self-professed $3 million valuation, Robert presses the pair for details. They reiterate their projection of $850,000 in the next year, and claim that they’ll make just $238,000 in profit from that sum total. Robert gently reminds the team that their valuation implies that they’ve already hit executional excellence – when, in fact, they are still in growth mode. Their valuation is not based on the present moment, but rather, on what InstaFire will be worth in the future.
Uncomfortable with the massive volume the company will have to move, and the relatively limited space for error, Robert is quick to come to a decision. “Everything has got to work really well for me to own 10% and get a return on it.” Robert is the first to drop out.
Kevin is next up, with an offer of $300,000 for a third of the company – a whopping 33.33%, or three times as much as their original asking term. In exchange, Kevin says he can bring marketing expertise and, in particular, social media mastery.
Daymond, possibly the last person on earth you’d expect to be a doomsday prepper, professes his interest in the prepper market. He offers $300,000 for 20% equity, and 33.33% of equity online. Meaning, Daymond would get a third of all online sales. Daymond says he can grow the company from 5% to “millions and millions of dollars per year.”
Mark leans around Daymond and speaks directly to Lori. “I think we gotta partner together on this and knock these guys out. I’ll do the online stuff. We’ll both work on the retail.”
“Together?” says Kevin.
“Not you,” says Mark. (Get with the program, Kevin.)
Mark and Lori agree to partner up, with Lori handling retail and Mark handling online sales. In exchange, Mark and Lori want a 30% stake in the company.
After considering all three offers on the table, and some impressive haggling from Daymond and Kevin, the InstaFire inventors come to a decision. Frank and Konel strike a deal with Mark and Lori.
Final Deal: $300,000 for 30% stake in InstaFire.
Where Are They Now?
The flames of InstaFire are still burning bright today, thanks to Mark and Lori’s formidable investing skills. The product is sold directly online – by means of a polished and lively website – as well as at Walmart, Lowe’s, Academy Sports, Camping Survival and dozens of other retailers.
The company boasts a wide range of fire starters, charcoal starters, popular mechanics products, and emergency prep products.
In a sign of the times – and competent branding – their website advertises the product’s ecofriendliness and environmental sustainability, advertising that even InstaFire’s leftover ash is a natural fertilizer.
Their Facebook page is alive and thriving, with recent posts for sales and strong audience engagement.
InstaFire, it would seem, isn’t likely to burn out any time soon.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is strictly informational; INSIGNIA SEO is not affiliated with InstaFire, SharkTank, or any of its subsidiaries.