- Company: Broccoli Wad (money clips)
- Owners: Johnny Gennaro
- Asking Price: $50,000 for 20% equity
- Final Deal: $50,000 for 40% equity
- Shark Who Took The Bait: Barbara Corcoran
- Season/Episode: Season 2, Episode 4
The Broccoli Wad Before Shark Tank
Johnny Gennaro is an entrepreneur who developed a money clip based on a documentary he watched about “wise guys” in the Mob. He saw that these “made men” would display their wads of cash using the rubber bands that grocers place around stalks of broccoli. He eventually got in touch with Vinny Pastore – best known for his role on the TV series The Sopranos – and the two partnered to try to bring the Broccoli Wad to market. Johnny believed that Vinny would be the perfect pitch-man for his product.
The Broccoli Wad On Shark Tank
Johnny and Vinny stepped into the tank, and Johnny asked the Sharks for $50,000 in exchange for 20% of his company. Tongue-in-cheek, he described it as “an offer you can’t refuse” in pure Godfather fashion. Johnny showed off the Broccoli Wad holding a stack of bills and explained how he had come up with the idea for the product after watching a documentary about an FBI agent that infiltrated the Mob. He noted that wise guys don’t have wallets and instead carried their cash around gripped by a rubber band used to hold broccoli stalks together.
Kevin wanted to know where wise guys keep their credit cards, but guest-Shark Jeff Foxworthy explained that wise guys don’t carry credit cards because they don’t want to be easily tracked or identified. Johnny joked that they do carry a license, but it’s “normally from out of state and expired.” The sharks laughed at that statement.
While Johnny was passing around samples for all the Sharks, Vinny admitted that he initially thought the idea was nuts, but he came around when he saw how cute it was.
Robert gingerly said, “Come on – it’s a piece of rubber that you’re saying is worth $250,000.” Vinny’s reply to that was that if they sell a lot of units and he gets his 50-cent royalty on each of them, he’ll be able to get a house in Malibu.
While the other Sharks were laughing at these jokes and thought the pitch was amusing, Barbara wasn’t having it. She thought both of them were totally nuts, and she just didn’t get it. She thought this was one of the worst products she had ever seen on the show. She was out.
Johnny said it’s understandable that it would be difficult for a woman to understand because most women do carry wallets. Jeff said he understood the concept because his own wallet had become so overpacked it was almost the size of a phone book. He was always on the lookout for a way to carry his cash because most money clips don’t work very well. He said he liked Johnny’s idea.
Kevin wanted to know how they were going to sell it. Johnny explained that each package would include two rubber pieces and two metal sliders and would retail from $10 – $14 each. In the meantime, he had created two 2-minute spots featuring Vinny and some of Vinny’s former cast members from The Sopranos. They were ready to launch a campaign, and Vinny had already agreed to do personal appearances at casinos in Atlantic City.
Daymond wanted to know how much had already been invested in the product. When Johnny admitted that he had put $200,000 into it, the Sharks seemed stunned. But Vinny chimed in to say that $190,000 of it had been a payment to him.
In defense of his product, Johnny said that he came from a background in novelty items and saw the Broccoli Wad as the ideal “As Seen on TV” product, complete with a 2-minute TV spot. Kevin asked if Johnny needed the $50,000 to buy air time, but Johnny said that what he needed most was sales and marketing expertise.
Robert wondered why Vinny’s photo wasn’t featured on the package. And that’s when Barbara jumped into the conversation again. “Why isn’t it called the “Vinny Wad?” she asked. The other sharks agreed that would probably be good branding, and Daymond asked Johnny if he saw Vinny as the face of the product. Johnny said that without Vinny, it would just be a rubber band.
Realizing that Vinny’s involvement could have a positive effect on branding, Barbara decided she was coming back if Johnny would rebrand the product as the “Vinny Wad” and put Vinny’s picture on the package. Robert agreed and said, “Your greatest asset is standing next to you, but you haven’t branded him anywhere.”
Asked if he were willing to stick with the brand long-term, Vinny said it was a matter of economics, meaning that it would depend on how he was compensated. Kevin said that sounded expensive to him, and he dropped out. Then both Jeff and Daymond dropped out, as well.
Barbara was ready to make a deal. However, she directed her attention to Vinny. When she started to say that she wanted to make Vinny an offer, Kevin exclaimed, “Vinny’s not a Shark!” But Barbara continued. She would give Johnny the $50,000 in exchange for 40% of the company. In turn, she would split her 40% with Vinny so that Vinny could be compensated. The requirement would be that Vinny would offer his face and name for branding the product.
Robert then said, “I’m out. That’s a great offer,” and Vinny quickly accepted the deal with Barbara. Johnny looked dumbstruck, and Kevin shouted, “What just happened there?” One of the sharks told Johnny, “You just got whacked.”
But Barbara persisted and explained the nature of her offer once again. She asked how many pieces Johnny had in his warehouse, and Johnny told her he had 50,000 units. Barbara then said that all he needed was a picture of Vinny on the package. But Johnny wanted to know how they would move forward. He didn’t come to Shark Tank only for the money but wanted sales and marketing expertise. Would Barbara be willing to provide that?
Barbara said that the only things she knows really well are sales and marketing. She wanted to know if Johnny would accept the deal. After a beat, Johnny said he would.
After Johnny and Vinny left the stage, Barbara was asked if she was just bluffing when she said the Broccoli Wad was the worst product she had ever seen on the show, given the fact that she eventually invested in it. But she hadn’t changed her mind about the product. She still thought it was nuts, “but once you market it, it’s genius.”
Final Deal: $50,000 for 40% equity
The Broccoli Wad After Shark Tank
It may not have been genius after all. The product lasted only a couple years under Johnny Gennaro’s leadership, and he’s now moved on to other things. Currently, LinkedIn shows him as the CEO and Visionary Entrepreneur of Twinstars Productions, LLC, and his mission is to build innovative household items and hair care products. An item he has attempted to bring to market is called the iCurler. It works by inserting a strand of hair into an appliance that looks like a blow dryer, and then the appliance draws the hair in and curls it. Johnny has a patent for it, but there’s no website, and it doesn’t appear to be for sale anywhere.
In the meantime, you can still find the Broccoli Wad for sale on Amazon. However, it’s represented by a company named “Wise Guy Productions,” which isn’t affiliated with either Johnny or Vinny. The price of the product, however, has dramatically increased. It now costs nearly $55 for two of the rubber bands and metal sliders. Surprisingly, the product shows a number of positive reviews.
As for Vinny, he’s doing just fine. He has continued his work as an actor, and has several projects in the works still to come in 2020, and even more scheduled for 2021.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is strictly informational; INSIGNIA SEO is not affiliated with Broccoli Wad, SharkTank, or any of its subsidiaries.