Mr. Tod's Pie Factory Update: Shark Tank Season 1, Episode 1
Did the Deal Go Through?
Tod Wilson, the owner of Mr. Tod's Pie Factory in Englewood, NJ, made a deal with Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John for $230,000 each for 25% of the business. Apparently, Wilson reconsidered and backed out of the deal (or the sharks negotiated their way out; it's tough to say for sure), but got a huge bump from the appearance on the premiere Shark Tank Episode.
How Did the Business Do After the Show?
Apparently, Mr. Tod appeared on Oprah and Rachel Ray, and got commensurate boosts from both of those appearances. Of course, sales does not mean profits, and even a profitable business can run into cash flow problems. In early 2019, the retail location that had thrived after its initial television exposure (remember, "thrived" means sales, not necessarily business success per se) closed its doors for good. However, it seems like Mr Tod's website is current and reasonably slick, doing a strong post-covid delivery business.
First Pitch in Shark Tank History
What Do I Think?
It's really tough not to like Tod Wilson as an entrepreneur. He came onto the very first episode of Shark Tank, and really set an optimistic, positive tone. Of course, he asked for a ludicrous valuation: $460,000 for 10% of Mr Tod's Pies. Yikes.
When I look at this as a potential investor, I imagine the company should have at least $500,000 in excess free cash per year, right now. Of course, Mr Tod was bringing in about $150,000 a year, and the key question of whether he was paying himself a salary (which is always an important question to ask) wasn't answered on the show. I would run away from this deal, personally, but if I was a shark and the valuation was more reasonable, I would absolutely consider investing.
Then again, I'm a glutton for punishment, and that's probably because of my own personal restaurant experiences. Having said that, if you have an owner who is willing to fight for the business, you're in really great shape, and Tod seemed to be a fighter (albeit with a crazy valuation).
On balance, it seems like a reasonably healthy business today that very likely doesn't justify the initial offer Daymond and Barbara made. Maybe that's why the deal ultimately fell through.