Safe Catch Before Shark Tank
Two entrepreneurs step up into the tank, and these two believe they have a safer version of a favorite food. Brian and Sean have come to the Shark Tank seeking $600,000 investment in exchange for a 3% investment in their company. Daymond audibly mumbles, “Oh, God” in response to the drastic evaluation. Sean starts by saying that Safe Catch is a way to “make tuna great again.” In fact, he knows the Sharks love tuna, but the average person over the last 10 years is eating 30% less tuna. The reason? Mercury. Two tuna can vary in mercury levels by over 50 times. The great news is that there is still plenty of pure tuna in the sea. The problem is that there has never been a way to detect the mercury content.
So, Sean and Brian developed a system that allows for them to test each individual tuna for its mercury levels so that everyone can feel great about tuna again. Sitting next to them is a high-speed mercury analyzer, and they have a piece of Ahi tuna sitting next to them. They will test each tuna, one-by-one, for its mercury concentration. They take a modified biopsy needle, grab a tissue sample about the size of a grain of rice. Select your tuna species, drop the sample in, and the machine does the rest. The reason they had to invent their own technology is that the existing methods are non-starter oriented; it costs $100 per test, takes a week to get results back, requires a lab, and there’s a ton of logistical hurdles.
With Safe Catch technology, they can integrate the test into the food market and test for pennies on the dollar. Each machine can run over 1,000 tests per day, but they also found a better way to make tuna. It tastes better, looks better, and is better for you, so they created their own brand of Safe Catch tuna. All of it is hand-cut and hand-packed, and they put a sushi-grade Tuna steak directly into the BPA-free can then cook the tuna in all of its natural fats and oils. Each Shark is given a sample to test, and they all love the taste of the tuna.
Safe Catch on Shark Tank
Robert starts by saying that they are really out to create safer, better ways of eating tuna, and Mark agrees with this. Mark then points out that they are trying to create the safest and healthiest tuna available. Sean and Brian agree with this. Lori then says that she’s very conscious of mercury in seafood, and has actually stopped buying seafood because of mercury. Mercury builds up in your body, which can lead to disastrous consequences like mercury poisoning or worse. Lori then asks about the acceptable level of mercury from Safe Catch, to which Brian replies that they accept a limit of .1 parse-million, which is 10 times stricter than the FDA.
Kevin asks about the cost, and each can of Safe Catch tuna costs them $1.20 to make and sells for $2 and retails for between $3 and $4. Right now, they are less expensive than other premium brands on the market but are more expensive than other conventional brands. In fact, more than $12 million has been invested into developing the technology. Robert asks where that money came from, and Sean launches into the history of Safe Catch.
Safe Catch was started about 12 or 13 years ago. He grew up on fish, his family grew up on fish, and his family agreed that they could have the solution to the mercury problem. So, they invented technology, although they were “green and naive” – they took the technology to the market and thought people would adopt. Safe Catch kept getting blocked by people in the seafood supply market, and they chased this business strategy for about 10 years. They had about 100 investors that come into their last round, and so far they have raised more than $14 million.
That money then goes into 4 Ph.D. physicists and 3 engineering/testing labs. However, the investors got tired, the company ran out of money, and they couldn’t get into retailers. So, Brian came into the company with Sean, and together they bought the company out. They paid less than a million dollars to reclaim ownership. Unfortunately, that $14 million was totally wiped out. After that, Brian has put in more than $900,000, and the company has about $900k in debt. All of the Sharks look distressed at this answer. Mark then asks about sales, and Brian says that they launched a year ago in stores and now are in 2,100 stores. In the first 12 months of sales, they did $1.25 million in sales. However, they are currently burning through $75,000 a month, which means that they are losing money.
This year alone, they have lost $530,000 to date. Mark then says that they made the comment that they are a technology company, so he wants to talk about that. Safe Catch is ultimately a proof-of-concept, so the next thing to do is try to move into the canned tuna market segment, which is a $4 billion market segment. Mark then urges them to move on; Brian says that they have seen a 33% capital decline in the tuna market, but Mark then says he doesn’t care about that. He also says that they need to listen more than they sell.
Kevin then points out that a big issue is that they burned through $14 million of investor’s money. However, trying to build Safe Catch as a market standard means that he would never receive his $600,000 back in a timely fashion, at least until they end up with about 20% share of the declining sector. So, Kevin is the first Shark to exit the deal. Brian then says that Kevin’s fears are entirely misplaced. In fact, the food technology industry is one of the hottest markets.
Robert then points out that a glaring problem with the pitch was that they are not a tech play. They are coming in with a food product asking for a tech evaluation. The market won’t adopt their technology, so Robert is the second Shark out of the deal. Barb then says that they have a loss of $75,000 after $14 million goes into the business. This does not sound like a sexy proposal to Barb. She takes herself out of the deal, leaving only three Sharks left.
Daymond starts by thanking them by trying to save their families – he grew up eating a lot of fish so he’s full of mercury, but he jokes that he burns it off with the vodka. Robert asks about this, and Daymond says that the vodka actually helps to remove mercury from your body. However, for $14.5 million dollars and to be burning $75,000 a month is a lot, and Brian and Sean are asking for the full $14 million evaluation. Daymond is also out.
In this space, Brian says, a $14 million company is selling for $2 million – in other words, they’re desperate for money. Safe Catch is a pure technology company that has gone into the food industry, but Kevin then asks about the test results from the mercury test. Sean coldly replies, “you’re out [of the deal.]” All the Sharks take delight in this, although Sean retrieves the test results. The test results yield a red screen, meaning that the tuna steak did not pass. Even though it’s a sushi-grade fish, it’s still full of mercury. They would not have accepted the fish.
Mark then speaks up, saying their evaluation is crazy and they’re burning through cash. However, Brian says that they are building the brand right now. A yogurt company grew from nothing to $1 billion, but Mark points out that they have to grow 37 times to get their $40 million in sales. Mark is the next Shark out of the deal, leaving just Lori interested in the deal.
Lori starts by saying that she likes what they’re doing and it’s important. It’s a big problem and they have a big idea, but the strategy that she sees is Safe Catch going to the government bodies and making them require it. However, this is not the path for them right now, although she will be a customer for sure. Lori is the final Shark out of the deal, leaving Brian and Sean from Safe Catch without an investor. Unfortunately, the meeting in Shark Tank went the complete opposite way from what they anticipated.
Kevin jokes that they are now going to test if Mark Cuban has any mercury in him, and demands him to bend over.
Safe Catch After Shark Tank – Now in 2018
While it’s hard to determine where exactly the mercury testing arm of Safe Catch is, their sales of their name-brand tuna are unprecedented. Amazon has a stellar review of a 4.3-star rating across 66 different customer reviews; all of the reviews have praised the taste of the tuna, saying that it’s more flavorful and less salty than other brands of canned tuna. The tuna is branded as “Safe Catch Elite Wild Tuna,” and can be found on Amazon contained in a 6-pack that costs $21.89 ($3.65 per can.)
Safe Catch also has its own website with every flavor of tuna listed, which includes chili lime, cajun, citrus pepper, habanero mint, garlic herb, tandoori, and a variety pack. Safe Catch is also available in numerous stores near me – typically, when I look for a Shark Tank food product, it’s incredibly uncommon to find any within a 50-mile radius. However, numerous grocers near me carry the Safe Catch brand, so it’s incredibly likely that you can find a store near you that carries Safe Catch. Although Brian and Sean did not receive an offer from any of the Sharks, they’re making impressive headway with getting safer tuna on a shelf at a local grocery store near you.