When you're thirty-one years old, whatever that generation might be, you're part of a generation that cares about the environment. You don't want to waste environmental resources. You don't want to be selfish or greedy about non-renewable resources. So that's why Grouphug, a company from New York, NY, has created a personal solar panel. So someone can charge their cellphone without being wasteful.
The entrepreneur behind Grouphug wanted to power her devices in a more environmentally "friendly" way and went looking for solar panels but could only find panels that were designed for a house or panels that were designed for camping. So she went and put a small solar panel into a bamboo frame that can be hung in a window that can then charge devices connected to it. This panel will charge almost anything with a USB port on it.
Naturally, the entrepreneur sees this solar panel as just the first of many products for Grouphug.
The original Grouphug panel launched on Kickstarter in 2018 with a $10,000 goal that it exceeded to reach $80,000. Unfortunately, those kickstarted panels have yet to ship.
When the panel reaches stores, the manufacture suggested retail price would be $149. It currently costs Grouphug $42 per unit to manufacture though the entrepreneur suggests that if it were manufactured in batches of 10,000 units or more that cost could be lowered to $35 per unit.
The entrepreneur is not an engineer but, rather, a creative director, and has worked with factories in China to make and perfect the Grouphug panel.
Finishing her pitch, she then demonstrates a "Solarcat", a product Grouphug made for a museum that has panels arranged to look like a stylized cat face. It currently costs $1,000 to build one Solarcat.
Making A Deal
Mr. Wonderful comes right and says that he thinks solar panels are a commodity item and that he's out. Lori is also out after saying that she thinks it's too early to know whether people would even want the product. Barbara makes it zero for three when she says that she thinks the panel is ugly and that Grouphug has a long way to go.
Guest shark Rohan Oza states that he thinks the company's entire focus should actually be on the Solarcat that the entrepreneur demonstrated at the end. Stating what should be told to most entrepreneurs, Rohan says that there's nothing in the Grouphug panel that's unique or can be patented. But, unfortunately, for those reasons (even though they hold true for for most products) is out.
Though down, the entrepreneur wasn't yet out. Mark Cuban was still in deal. Being honest, he said that he thought the execution of the panel still needed work but he still offers $150,000 for 25% in straight up equity. The entrepreneur attempts to counter but as soon as Mark starts to balk, she changes her mind and accepts the deal.
Considering that the entrepreneur came in with a $1,500,000 valuation on a company that had $80,000 in unfulfilled Kickstarter pledges, some bite was to be expected. Whether Mark's $900,000 bite was fair remains to be seen but no other sharks were biting so if the entrepreneur wanted to leave with deal, his was the only one on the table.
- This is one of those things where, what starts out sounding like a good idea actually ends up being more wasteful than before the product was brought into the world. Solar panels work on a large scale because they are manufactured in large batches and utilize rare earth minerals in the most efficient way. Having a personal solar panel actually under utilizes these same minerals that usually have to be strip-mined out of the ground in some of the worst countries on the planet in a far less efficient way. And to use them to power a personal speak or a mobile device that itself is also made of these same minerals serves just to use this as a virtue signaling item more than it does any actual good for the world. By almost every economic metric, in fact, this device makes the world worse since one must also factor in the fuel cost of transporting this not just to one central location to be plugged into a large array but delivered to every customer's house or neighborhood instead.