Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Balloon Distractions Update- What Happened After Shark Tank

Balloon Distractions Before Shark Tank

Ben Alexander has traveled from Tampa, Florida, all the way to the Shark Tank. He is seeking $250,000 in exchange for 30% of his wild company.

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and ordered your food, but there’s nothing the restaurant can do to make your food come out faster? You might be impatient, but this problem can especially be worsened when the diner has kids; they might be swinging from the chandeliers, running under the tables or over the table, it can be crazy. Fortunately, this reason is why restaurants turn to Ben for his very unique and different for a solution. This solution uses some creativity to solve the issue, and as Ben says this, dozens of balloon animals fall from the sky into the Shark Tank. Balloon Distractions is the nation’s leading agency that provides not just restaurants, but anyone with balloon artists. They are the first company to ever take the idea and put it all over the United States. Ben mentions that he brought with him something special for each one of the Sharks.

Balloon Distractions On Shark Tank

Ben knows that Robert loves motorcycles, so for Robert, Ben gives him a balloon motorcycle. Since Lori is the QVC Shark, she receives a fine old-time women’s hat. For Kevin, Ben brought a tequita hat. For Barbara, the queen of building sales, Ben gives her a balloon crown, and Mark receives a Dallas Mavericks player, complete with blue headband.

Ben makes it rain balloon animals on Shark Tank!
Ben makes it rain balloon animals on Shark Tank!

Immediately, Mark asks if Ben is like the Ben from his presentation – energetic, full of life, and fast-paced. Even Kevin mentions that he is afraid Ben is going to spontaneously combust, but he ultimately asks for numbers. In a year, Balloon Distractions does about $500,000 in sales and since the inception of the business, he has done around $4 million in total sales. The last year alone, sales were about $650,000, an increase from the usual year. Robert asks why sales are declining, and Ben says that he recruited a ton of magicians during the slow turn of the economy but as the economy began to fix itself, the magicians began to accept bookings and he couldn’t find as many people to fill bookings. In addition, Ben was heavily criticised online by the clown community (to which this draws an interesting reaction from the Sharks, who probe for more details and find out that the clowns were spitting on Ben for his business model which takes their business away). Mark asks for more details and specifics, as well as the exact business model of Balloon Distractions; Ben explains that restaurants will pay for a balloon artist to come in and distract the guests on a regular guest. Robert clarifies that Balloon Distractions is actually more like a booking agency, and less like a business – they book talent, which then goes out to restaurants. It is more of an independent contractor-type relationship.

Ben brings up that he wants to expand and advertise further across the nation, as well as taking the business international. Ben’s vision is to advertise for the business and bring in independent contractors on a regional basis, instead of working locally like he does now. Unfortunately, the regional partners he has had have not pulled the trigger; they have all fallen short, despite being promised a percentage of the revenues that will come from each restaurant that employees go to. The independent contractors are already trained in the art of balloon blowing, but they need to be instructed on how the business works and the finer workings of the employeeship, such as clocking in and out and all the rules of the job. The regional manager for a specific area would provide the employees with their balloons and supplies and uniforms – the essentials for working, basically. The regional partner would sell restaurants, train people and schedule their employees weekly as well, serving more as a regional manager than a partner. Mark asks about the price of a Balloon Distractions member, and Ben says that he only charges restaurants $40 to $60 per night for 1 member. Lori asks how much the balloon artist would then charge a child for their balloon, and Ben asks to let his accompanying staff member answer the questions since she actually is a balloon artist – her name is Josana. Josana explains that they have a tip button, which says “We Twist for Tips!” and they also drop a subtle hint by keeping a $5 bill in the button (a physical button with a pin, not like a button on a computer screen.)
Mark asks what Ben intends to do with the money he raises from the Shark Tank, as he says it doesn’t really sound like Ben needs the cash all that bad. Ben insists he needs the cash to franchise his business idea, which draws an entertaining reaction from Mark who rubs his temples and mumbles that Ben is going to drive him crazy. Robert says that with the money, Ben does not need to franchise, but rather he needs to build infrastructure – he needs managers, a storefront, and a more concrete process. However, Ben says that he needs a partner who can give him a little guidance (motioning to Mark, and then he says “If you think franchising is a bad idea…” where Mark then immediately quips, “you’re a bad idea.”). Kevin remarks that with a $250,000, Ben better have a plan for world domination, but Ben says that the first step on that process is finding a recruiter – Robert and Mark remark that the first thing that startups typically do to become business is enter their recruiting and operations phase.

Ben, the founder of Balloon DIstractions
Ben, the founder of Balloon Distractions

Robert remarks that Ben is a great salesman, but ultimately, Ben did not show a way that Robert could invest his $250,000 and get a great return, and Robert is the first Shark out of the deal. Ben looks to Barbara, who starts by saying that a clown business is exactly like building a real estate business with multiple offices – literally, no different. She really understands the business, but through this, also understands the challenges – the whole organization is relying on the right salesman, which is the cornerstone of the business. The business is reliant on their ability to recruit people, not the ability to sell, and so far, he has not succeeded in doing so and that is an Achille’s heel in his business model. Barbara also exits the deal, saying she would be scared for her deal. Barbara’s words are excellent, and a great thing to keep in mind for anyone in any field of business – there’s a huge difference between being able to sell an idea, and being able to sell a service.

Lori speaks next, saying that it is an adorable idea but she has sales reps that work under her. The most

important thing is that sales reps are very focused and organized, but so far she has had a lot of trouble understanding the business model and finds that it would be difficult for her to invest in Balloon Distractions. Lori is also out of the deal. Ben then looks to Mark, who says the business is structured wrong, but if Ben were to get things together and reach sales of a million dollars, the business would easily sell itself. Ben keeps speaking over Mark, who yells for Ben to shut up and quit speaking over him; his suggestion is instead of using a regional partner on a commission basis, go and find the best, most recent college graduate talent and develop management talent immediately. Mark says that Ben isn’t ready for his investment yet as well, and for these two reasons, he is out of the deal.

Kevin is the last Shark remaining, and he says that he likes the business, but Ben is ultimately missing a business partner that can help guide his business to success. If he had a partner that was more grounded, Kevin might have done the deal; the idea is very unique, and Kevin insists that he knows exactly how to sell the deal. However, the point is that Ben’s business is poorly structured enough to the point where the Sharks were almost immediately turned off as Ben entered; Kevin is out of the deal as well.

Ben leaves without finding an investment in Balloon Distractions. As he leaves, Kevin and Robert begin to jump on the dozens of balloon animals on the floor, popping them.

Shark Tank 2018 Update
Shark Tank 2018 Update

Balloon Distractions Now in 2018- The After Shark Tank Update

Balloon Distractions seems to be in a weird state of limbo – the website seems recently updated and has postings that make it seem like it’s being kept current, but their social media seems a bit dead with the last post being from August of 2014. However, Balloon Distractions seems to operate at a very low margin so the cost and sales should not matter heavily to it (despite there being a need for positive sales), and the company has partnered itself with giant chains such as Red Robin, Applebee’s, Chili’s, Max & Erma’s and many, many other family-friendly franchises. Balloon Distractions, for all intensive purposes, appears to be a still-functioning entity, but it could be on life support due to the lack of any further updates.

Steven Kahn
King of the Bears, Shark Tank enthusiast, failed network engineer, sour cream enthusiast, Nanchaku instructor, Techman, Mega Man X fan, vaporizing know-how
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