How do you solve a "massive" environmental problem without making people change their behavior? According to FinalStraw, it's done by getting people to buy and use a reusuable metal straw.
The entrepreneurs claim that straws are the number one garbage item picked up on beaches. They also claim that 5,000 straws are used every second. To alleviate this problem, the entrepreneurs invented a collapsable, reusable metal straw that comes in its own storage case and "can be attached to a keychain" and fit in a person's pocket. The cases come in a variety of different colors.
The entrepreneurs claim to have patents pending on the product.
The straw sells for $20 per unit and costs $5 to have manufactured. They product launched two months before filming on Kickstarter and had raised $1,800,000 in thirty days. Since then, they have opened the product up for pre-sales and the entrepreneurs claim to be doing $15,000 a day in gross sales. Their intent is to start fulfilling orders in November.
Mark Cuban: "I'll make you an offer but it's going to be a sharky offer..."
Mark made an offer for $625,000 for 25% but the entrepreneurs were not impressed, claiming that the bite he wanted to take wasn't justified given the sales they've already had. They responded with half the amount of equity but Mark dropped out and FinalStraw left the tank without an offer.
This deal aired on Episode 10.01.
The Stats Shark isn't super impressed by the 500 million straws a day number. For one, the study itself, despite being quoted again and again, lacks serious scientific rigor. There's also a good case to be made that even if straws are commonly found on beaches, they don't represent the real problem of plastics in the ocean (despite the cruel photos that are shown)
But, beyond that, the biggest problem with this deal is the problem with who values straws in the first place. If the Stats Shark goes to a take-out place and gets an occasional Dr. Pepper and no straws are available, the Shark will just drink from the lip of the cup as people have done for 30,000 years. He will use a straw if one is available but will quickly adjust if one is not. It's difficult to imagine that someone exists who so loves their straws that they will carry one with them and decline the free straw offered in favor of the metal $25 straw they carried with them.
People love straws. The Stats Shark loves to drink his homemade cold brew with a straw. But even re-usable plastic cups from Starbucks that cost just $5 come with their own straws. Who carries a straw in case they might want to use it to enjoy a beverage? Much less pay $25 to have the privilege?
Also, the Stats Shark wonders if the actual Sharks weren't so infatuated with the "virtue" of the product that they didn't pay much attention to the numbers. $15,000 in sales a day? That's certainly a number that should have been investigated more.
- "Take California, where preliminary data from that state's 2017 coastal clean-up found that straws and stirrers combined the fourth most common item to be picked up by volunteers. That would qualify them as a "top" item, but ignores the fact that these straws make up only 2.56 percent of waste collected by during California's coastal clean-up. That's by item, mind you. Assuming an industry standard of .42 grams per straw, straws are about .01 percent of all waste collected on California's beaches by weight." (source)
- The commonly used statistic is based on a study done by a then 9-year old who even admits that there is a reasonable room for error. "Why I use this statistic is because it illustrates that we use too many straws," he said. "I think if it were another number, it still illustrates the fact that there is room for reduction." (source)
- The patent can be seen on the USPTO website under Patent No 10,123,641, though it remains a mystery how someone in 2018 can patent a straw.