The first season of “Shark Tank” aired in 2009 and the premise of the reality show is hopeful entrepreneurs propose items and try to convince one or more of the five business titans, or “Sharks,” on the panel, to invest.
One of the first season contestants was a woman named Irina Blok, who came on in 2009 to pitch the Sharks “a collection of fashion surgical masks designed for people with an edgy sense of humor who want to express themselves.”
An idea which, if it had been proposed right before March 2020, would have been a major success.
Blok says she “believ[es] she’s created the next big trend,” but at the time, every investor made fun of her idea and shut the pitch down.
In the episode, after Blok explains that she had over 700,000 hits on her site a week after launching, Kevin O’Leary dismisses the idea that the general public would be interested in this product.
“Is that because Swine Flu was all over the news for two weeks?” he asks. “Now we don’t see it anymore, it’s an epidemic that came and went, you need a new epidemic to get that kind of a hit again.”
Be patient, O’Leary, just wait 11 years.
“It’s a novelty item, not a serious item,” Kevin Harrington says. “I just don’t see the market for it.”
Blok’s reaction is my reaction right now watching this in 2020 with an order of five new face masks being delivered to my apartment later today.
The COVID-19 outbreak has boosted the market for face masks, both for hospitals and civilians. Arizton Advisory and Intelligence anticipates that the face mask market “would realize an absolute growth of around 90%, contributing over $2.7 billion incremental revenue between 2019 and 2025.”
As for Blok, she’s doing OK. While she’s not selling face masks, she is the mastermind behind the Google Android robot logo.
If you’d like to buy some fabric face masks for yourself, check out 15 retailers that still have styles in stock.
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