Let’s admit it here. You can’t convince a Lebanese that a tiny simple item could create a profitable business. We want big $M in upshot and that means, for us, big great thunder-buster products. Well, people, we are wrong!
I myself had big doubts when these three young men presented their product at Shark Tank in a recent TV broadcast. A car-sauce-holder? Really? And at $45,000 for a 15% equity share? Whatever my doubts, I had to watch it till the end ...because the guys carried so-Lebanese family names, acted so Lebanese, and the presentation was so fun!
Let me take the story from the beginning because there is a point to make here about it. We have here three young Lebanese men in a brand new car, grabbing chicken nuggets with sauce from a drive-thru restaurant, and taking off on a road trip in Ohio, US.
They dug into their food bags and went on eating. Sauce spilled in the new car and discussion ensued, not without plenty of good humor, on how this mess could have been avoided.
That’s how Tony Lahood, William Moujaes, and Michael Khoury created their flagship product while they were on a road trip together. They decided back then to create a product to solve this problem, which is very common in the US by the way.
At the time, in 2008, Moujaes and Khoury were attending the University of Akron in Ohio. Hence the creation of their concept would have to wait... some nine years!
Khoury would go graduating in Engineering in 2009 to then work (as of date) as a sales manager for McNeil & NRM, an Akron maker of tire production machinery. Moujaes graduated in Business Administration in 2012 and currently works as a developer at Woodpeckers in Strongsville. As for Lahood, he has been an entrepreneur in Cleveland, running two businesses of his own.
Together, the three young men represented already an interesting package of diverse skills: Engineering design, graphic design, and creative marketing, which will be the perfect combination for what is to come.
The trio recounts, “We all took different paths to get to where we are today, but our unique interests and experiences are what drive us to keep growing, creating, and learning.”
Eventually, in 2017, they created their device, Saucemoto, and launched it on a crowd-funding website called Kickstarter, and it proved an immediate success. To market their product, they created a professional video highlighting their product, which went viral with, as of May 2019 had over 44 million shares. They sold 12,000 units, netting $77,000 in sales.
At a certain stage of their business progress in 2019, they found themselves needing a strategic business partner willing to invest $45,000 for a 15% equity share of their company. They believed that appearing in front of the Shark Tank's group of business experts will put them over the top.
“The timing is perfect. Last year, we saw huge growth and are already positioned to have an amazing year," the team said. Hence, they took their Saucemoto device, prepared a bright and entertaining presentation, and went to present it this year (2019) to the expert business group of Shark Tank.
“We just tried to be ourselves, and the humor must have come through on the video,” Khoury said. “We know this is a ridiculous product, [but it’s] absolutely effective for someone who eats in their car.” The device, if you are still wondering, is a simple clip that mounts to a car’s air vent, holding still a sauce packet from any major fast-food chain.
The Sharks liked the design of the product, the smart packaging, and the price margins. They shared to have been very impressed by their marketing video.
O’Leary, in particular, recognized the many opportunities involved in selling the device through cross-selling, and as a promotional product for fast food restaurants. As the trio revealed during their presentation, 20% of American meals are consumed in automobiles. Thus, the American market already supports this product.
Kevin O’Leary offered $45,000 for 50% equity, with the terms that the product is sold as an add-on cross-sell item at a drive-up window. Robert Herjavec stepped in, stressing that Tony, William, and Michael are excellent marketers and that he would love to work with them as a marketing team and not for their product.
To the obvious displeasure of O’Leary, Herjavec offered a better deal of $45,000 for a 40% share of the company. But O’Leary did not intend to lose the opportunity Saucemoto represented. He went in with a much better offer of $45,000 for a 25% equity share, which would make each of the team and him equal owners.
And that’s how the Lebanese team is now partner on equal foot with Shark Tank business expert Kevin O’Leary on their Saucemoto company!