EzVip before Shark Tank
At some point in his young adult years, Alashe Nelson received the ultimate social snub. He was turned away at the door of a club, likely dooming his image and ruining his chances with the girl on his arm. From that day forward, he began to devise a plan so that this would never happen to anyone, especially him, again. In 2010, this idea became EzVip, a booking service for clubs that could guarantee a table, no questions asked. Alashe hit up the club scene in Miami, which he called home, and began partnering with local owners. After hitting a critical mass and making plans to expand to Las Vegas, Alashe entered the tank. He was looking for a strategic partner who could boost the value and visibility of his brand.
EzVip during Shark Tank
Alashe stood before the sharks with a beautiful woman at his side, opting to relive the night of his ultimate disgrace. After stopping for the traditional dramatic music, he asked the sharks for $150,000 in exchange for 15% of his company, a million dollar valuation. He painted the picture of a business person who might entertain friends or clients at a local club. Just when everything seems to be going smoothly, disaster strikes. There’s a line out front, the club is full, and that very business person is publicly embarrassed. While some see this exclusivity as a plus for the club scene, Alashe envisioned something different.
With his site, EzVip, anyone could book a VIP table, admission tickets, or bottle service in advance. He saw it as the Expedia or OpenTable of clubs. The site was simple and easy to understand, giving off that “Why didn’t anyone think of this before?” notion. An additional value proposition would be EzVip representatives to meet patrons outside clubs and guide them to their tables. At this, he gestured to the young lady next to him, and Daymond gave a flirty wave. As she beamed, Alashe reinforced the company’s success, given its infancy. In approximately a year, it grossed $250,000 and netted $90,000 of profit. It was operational in Miami and moving into Las Vegas.
The sharks were impressed with this, but Daymond and Mark decided to steal the show. They began bragging about their respective nightlife exploits. Mark evidently spent $130,000 in champagne in a single night, and Barbara accused Daymond of regularly hitting clubs with five women in tow. They of course managed to sneak in a reference to the Mavericks taking home the national championship. Before things could get too hairy, Barbara removed herself from the running. She couldn’t begin to relate to the club business, which was what Alashe needed. She’d rather stay at home with a good book. For the same reason, Kevin backed out…for now.
The real surprise was Mark’s exit. Unlike Barbara and Kevin, he had at least some familiarity with the club scene. After all, he spent his teenage and college years as a bartender and disco dancing instructor. While he liked EzVip as an idea, he couldn’t truly connect with the business. As he often says, he only invests when he thinks he can “kick ass”, and this wasn’t one of those times. Things weren’t looking good for EzVip, with three sharks out immediately. They didn’t even have constructive criticism for Alashe, just lack of experience. Maybe he had come to the wrong crowd.
Daymond had some concerns about the model because, unlike Mr. Cuban, he couldn’t comfortably spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a night. He’d seen how hard it could be for a regular guy to enter an exclusive club. Would they really let in any old schmuck who reserved a table? Alashe confirmed that EzVip’s partnerships included a certain number of tables per night. Even when clubs were otherwise full, such as on game days, EzVip members could get tables without a problem. The bouncers would have lists of EzVip reservations so there wouldn’t be problems (or unnecessary scuffles) at the door.
It looked like Robert would go the way of Barbara, Kevin, and Mark. He claimed to be “a pretty old, boring guy” (We’ve read about your race cars, Robert!) However, he saw the business’ merit and was willing to go in half way with Daymond. After sarcastically anticipating going clubbing with a Croatian, Daymond agreed to partner with Robert. The catch? He wouldn’t buy in for less than 45% combined. This would set the valuation of EzVip at a third of a million dollars after grossing almost that much in just the first year. It was a bargain for someone, and that someone wasn’t Alashe.
He flatly declined the offer. Daymond’s argument that “Robert understands technology” was weak. Plus, Alashe argued that EzVip would grow to a $100 million or $500 million business someday. Of course, investors don’t like to base valuation on potential revenues, but they should still have an eye for growth. He countered at 18% for $150,000, just 3% above the initial offer. Daymond thought such a minor adjustment was an insult, and Robert agreed. “I don’t want to waste your time,” he said. “It’s no waste of time…we’re talking about money!” Alashe protested. The sharks could appreciate a tough negotiator.
The mood had changed, and Daymond was ready to sweeten the deal. He threw in an A-list endorsement for the service, citing a relationship with Pitbull, a famous rapper. Before this offer could gain traction, Mark made a dramatic reentry, offering to partner with Daymond and shutting Robert out of the deal. The celebrity endorsement from Daymond was attractive. Traction was just what Alashe needed to break into new markets.
To keep things interesting, Kevin gave a much sweeter offer for EzVip: $150,000 for 25%. Robert hopped on board the O’Leary train. What they lacked in cool factor, they made up for in money and financial services. This looked like a race to the bottom. Daymond decided to meet EzVip in the middle and cut his equity in half. He and Mark would invest the $150,000 for 30%. It was still a worse deal monetarily, but the two of them had the edge in the nightlife business. Kevin wanted the deal, badly. He got dangerously close to the initial valuation by offering the same amount for only 20%. Robert hesitantly agreed. Despite the bargain, Alashe wasn’t convinced. Promotion was everything, and he would need a shark who could guarantee this.
After staying silent for nearly ten minutes, Barbara spoke up. “Time out!” she cried. Alashe could make this decision with his head or with his heart. According to Barbara, people make the most money when they have fun with their businesses. She guided him toward Mark and Daymond, despite their request for greater equity. “You’re gonna give up ten percent equity for fun?” Kevin asked. It was a challenge more than anything. They could all smell the blood in the water. After weighing the pros and cons, Alashe sided with Barbara and went with his heart. He took Mark and Daymond’s deal.
Supporting Alashe’s impulsive side, Daymond cheered. “We are gonna party and have a great time. We did it!” Everyone in the room seemed content except for Robert, who only shook his head and frowned. “Daymond, I expect that from Cuban, not from you,” he pouted. All said and done, Alashe and his lovely EzVip representative left the tank with a great deal. He gave up more equity than he might have hoped, but a celebrity endorsement and Mark Cuban’s own star power was sure to propel him to greatness.
EzVip after Shark Tank – Now in 2018
In the final episode of season three, we were given a peak into Daymond’s work since EzVip got a deal. He met with Alashe and revealed that he had secured an A-list artist as a company spokesman – Armando Perez, AKA Pitbull himself! The self-aggrandizing Grammy-winner is best known for his chart-topping rap singles and party music. Daymond, Alashe, and Pitbull sat down for drinks and began planning EzVip’s future. With Pitbull as the face of the company, failure seemed impossible.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to call EzVip in recent years anything but a disappointment. While early updates forecasted success for Alashe’s business, it’s been frozen in time since 2014. EzVip’s website is still “operational”, in the most basic sense of the word. There are search fields for events on the home page that bring up a whole lot of nothing. This is confirmed when searching by venue. The story is the same for every single one: “0 events found”. Speaking of venues, only Miami and Las Vegas are listed. In several years since making a deal with the sharks, EzVip hasn’t expanded to any new cities.
Little else has been heard from Alashe Nelson or EzVip. In April 2014, Alashe’s Twitter went dark, and he deleted his Instagram account. The last Facebook update was in December 2014. Almost a year later, in September 2015, Daymond John made a Facebook post about the Shark Tank Season 7 wrap party. He said “I called up my boys and of course my Shark Tank partner Al from EzVip and hit the town!” At the very least, EzVip’s complete radio silence hadn’t soured the relationship between Daymond and Alashe. The language Daymond uses makes one wonder: Is the business truly dead, or are they planning to pivot?
We have some evidence for this. While EzVip’s website is basically dead, they’ve partnered with Wantickets, a standard ticketing company. It seems like they’re an additional funnel to some events in Miami and Las Vegas. However, it’s a flimsy relationship at best. Wantickets has no obvious traffic funnel back to EzVip, and there are no references to Wantickets on EzVip’s website or social media. We can only speculate what’s going on here. Perhaps a deal was in the works, and this page lives on as a relic of what could have been. It’s difficult to say. Whatever the case, unless Daymond has something else up his sleeve, this looks like a Shark Tank failure.
Initial offer and valuation:
15% for $150,000; $1,000,000 valuation
Robert and Daymond: $150,000 for 45% (rejected)
Counter-offer from Alashe: 18% for $150,000
Robert and Daymond: $150,000 and A-list artist for 45%
Mark and Daymond: $150,000 and A-list artist for 45%
Kevin: $150,000 for 25%
Kevin and Robert: $150,000 and A-list artist for 25%
Mark and Daymond: $150,000 and A-list artist for 30% (accepted)
Kevin and Robert: $150,000 and A-list artist for 20%
Profit in Miami, founding through film date: $90,000
Total revenue in Miami, founding through film date: $250,000
Armando Perez AKA Pitbull