Shark Tank South Africa, episode 8, Sunday 20 November.
Tech guru Vinny Lingham invests in renewable energy at home
This week in M-Net and Telkom SA’s Shark Tank South Africa, there were investment opportunities aplenty and even some heartfelt tears shed by Shark Marnus Broodryk. Despite giving viewers a glimpse of the Sharks’ softer sides, however, business is still business and only one deal was clinched in the tank tonight, courtesy of Silicon Valley-based Shark Vinny Lingham.
Three entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds, Lisa Ellingworth, Warren Hurter and Kelvin Carr, came into the tank tonight with their company “FCP Energy”. The communications manager, engineer and construction expert had joined forces and invented a solar roof tile specifically made in the classic “Double Roman” style, a type of tile that is used most commonly in South Africa. Despite there being similar products on the market already, the FCP Energy team were looking to the Sharks for capital so that they could create the perfect prototype for their invention. While this type of investment is something that would usually put the Sharks off, they explained that once the prototype was perfected, their invention could be patented. Shark Romeo was the first to chip in: “I’m already invested in this particular sector, and from what I can see, there is nothing unique about what you’re representing here. For that reason, I’m out.”
The rest of the Sharks echoed Romeo’s opinion, but Vinny Lingham, who resides in California and is passionate about renewable energy and a green lifestyle, had a tell-tale glint in his eye. “I’m going to take a chance and trust that you have some valuable IP in this business. I want to make you an offer so that we can work together and scale this business – and even go into Silicon Valley,” he exclaimed. This was all that the trio from FCP Energy needed to hear, and with that, the deal was sealed.
On the other end of the renewable energy scale was Chris Chow, an engineering consultant originally from Hong Kong with his Fuel Decontaminant invention. Chris came to the Sharks with his own invention – a small device that one can fit into any car engine which detects when the fuel in the tank becomes contaminated, either with water or other pollutants. While Chris’s business figures to date were incredibly promising due to the fact that he is addressing a very common problem, the Sharks all shared the same concern, as was summed up by Vinny Lingham. “As we know, I’m all about renewable energy. You can definitely make good money in the short term, but from my investment philosophy perspective, I’m trying to create the future. Will this company still be around in 10 to 15 years’ time? The answer is no.” And for that reason, the five Sharks wished Chris all of the best as he left with an empty tank of his own.
There were two young female entrepreneurs in the Shark Tank tonight who really impressed the Sharks but still had a way to go before their companies could be deemed worthy of investments. IT professional Thokozile Magwiro came to the Sharks with her 100% home-grown and plant-based moisturising hair care range, “Nilotiqa Hair Care”. Thokozile was in search of capital in order for her to expand her marketing and distribution channels. Unfortunately, Thokozile has only been running her online shop for six months and her profits to date were simply not lucrative enough for the Sharks to invest at this early stage. She did, however, receive some valuable advice from marketing guru Gil Oved: “Go to the salons around South Africa – these type of outlets are low-hanging fruit for you. They’re not yet cluttered and have low margins – exactly what you need. Learn small, grow big and then please come back into the tank!”
Shark Marnus Broodryk had an emotional moment tonight when 25-year-old Nerike Botes from Klerksdorp pitched her beauty salon business “House of An”. Marnus was incredibly moved by Nerike’s story of starting her own business when she was just 22 years old, and the struggles she has overcome since. “I’m so emotional because I love entrepreneurs who are able to hustle like you. You just reminded me of my own story, and where you are now is just so great,” Marnus gushed.
Nerike wanted the Sharks’ investment in order to branch out and start a mobile pod franchising business as a separate branch from her existing “House of An” retail outlet in Johannesburg. Once again, it was Vinny who hit the nail on the head: “Nerike, you’re making a classic mistake that entrepreneurs make all the time. Investors don’t want to buy a piece or a part of your future, we want to invest in your whole future. And so when you come into the tank having split up your business, giving me the opportunity to only invest in half of it, it means that I’m out.” This, coupled with the fact that she is operating in an already saturated market gave the rest of the Sharks enough reason to decline. After having taken such a shining to her, accountant Marnus Broodryk told Nerike “I like you so much, but the business is not right for me. I’m out.”
To find out more about the businesses that have been featured on the series so far, especially if you’re interested in supporting them with an order or purchase, go to www.mnet.tv/sharktank or follow the conversation about the show on Twitter @MNetSharkTank with the hashtag #SharkTankSA.
Shark Tank SA, sponsored by Telkom SA, is screened on Sundays between 18:00 and 19:00 on M-Net 101. This corresponds with the timeslot on a Sunday when all DStv customers can get a taste of what’s available on M-Net 101, so if you’re not a DStv Premium customer, you can also go to channel 101 to watch Shark Tank SA. The series will also be available on DStv Catch Up and streamed live on DStv Now.