It would be expected that the season premiere of Shark Tank would, in more ways than one, hark back to the show’s beginnings in the midst of the financial crisis. They don’t call it a “Decade of Dreams” for no good reason — back in 2008, things were bleak, people were losing their homes and banks were going under.
(Now, well, arguably things are bad in a different way, depending on your political perspective, but that’s an aside. The forces affecting the global economy are apparently quite different now than they were then — this Visual Capitalist chart is enlightening, and deeply interesting to me given my lifelong obsession with the true nature of money.)
Tonight Shark Tank had Jamie Siminoff, the lengendary (and, it turns out, quite likeable) founder of Ring join the panel as a guest shark, five years after he’d turned down a loan/royalty/equity offer from Kevin O’Leary and a few months after enjoying a billion dollar exit by virtue of a sale to Amazon. Spoiler alert: Siminoff takes a bet on one of the entrepreneurs. But it’s not the one that was the most obvious fit for his existing portfolio.
After Siminoff declined to make a deal with a company that produces a lock that secures a dropbox for home delivery packages (Boxlock) — even after Lori Greiner gave him a second opportunity to come back in on the deal — it felt like Siminoff (who strangely seemed to fit in well with the panel, as all the sharks were in a particularly good mood) would not be making any shark-y maneuvers on the episode. Maybe he was just there because he fit the furniture.
Then came the husband-and-wife team behind Bear Minimum, who created a (super cute, and apparently functional) camping product called Bear Bowl. Heidi and Cory Santiago had a funny and interesting presentation, a clever device that looks like a billfold but somehow withstands high heat and allows you to cook over open flame, out in the woods or any place you could safely play with the elements.
They had five kids between the two of them, and Heidi had five jobs. After Greiner gently prodded into the couple’s story, they eventually broke down to reveal that they’d originally launched Bear Bowl in 2008. But a series of mishaps meant they lost everything. Now, they were back. In the Shark Tank mythology, neatly fitting into the 10-year timeline, they were rising again from the ashes of financial devastation.
As a viewer, you root for them — because the product is just so darn cute, and makes you want to go on a long hike or camp near a calm lake before the bad winter weather sets in. Siminoff was rooting for them too, it seemed, or just knew, as he said, that camping people like to buy stuff.
(It’s true. The last time I went camping (which, admittedly, was a couple of years ago), I stocked up with basic supplies at Army and Navy. When I hiked the Camino de Santiago (15 years and 50 pounds ago), I prepared by making a list of seemingly practical (although, at the end of the day, not always necessary) items. If I ever did walk the Camino again, I’d no doubt pack a Bear Bowl with me — because it’s light, might come in handy, and is just so darn cute. Not to mention that Heidi and Cory’s last name is Santiago. 😉 The fact that actually making a fire on the side of the road in Spain might be against regulations or more work than it’s actually worth is besides the point.)
Jamie Siminoff investing in Bear Bowl was the last thing I expected from the Shark Tank premiere, and it was cool. The couple deserved the vote of investor confidence. Siminoff was owed the chance to show that he is more than just The Ring Guy That Didn’t Close A Shark Tank Deal. (Although He Was Offered A Deal And Turned It Down.). It was pleasant to watch, and as Season 10 proceeds, I hope there’s more to come.