In a bizarre and convoluted tale, two men go swimming with sharks – and one gets badly bitten.
By W. Blake Gray | Posted Thursday, 15-Oct-2020
Single-serving wine cups seem like a great idea. Wine industry business seminars have been touting them for years, first as wine’s answer to craft beer, then as its answer to hard seltzer.
The idea makes so much sense that a man with a prior securities fraud conviction was able to leverage it to bilk investors out of more than $500,000 – and he didn’t even make or sell the product! He got a huge boost from the TV reality show Shark Tank – the show’s “sharks” couldn’t make a deal for a single-serving cup of Moscato, but Joseph Falcone did. Maybe now he wishes he didn’t.
Falcone is going to federal prison for two years and has been ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution. The producer of Copa di Vino, the wine product that got him sent away, has not been implicated in any way; it was just the bait for Falcone’s scheme.
Copa di Vino is a 187ml single-serve wine cup with a lid made by a winery in Oregon. James Martin, who developed Copa di Vino, went on Shark Tank in 2011 to try to raise money to expand distribution.
I don’t watch Shark Tank, so I’ve had to piece together what happened from the website for ABC TV network. On the show, an arrogant rich guy named Kevin O’Leary – a “shark” – tried to get Martin to sell him the patent for the container. But Martin wanted investment to expand his wine business, so Martin said no. Did I mention the sharks are arrogant? The ABC story says: “Despite walking away from the sharks’ offers twice and being known as one of the sharks’ most disliked inventors, Martin’s product is one of Shark Tank’s most successful.”
And O’Leary told ABC: “[The container] that’s never been done in wine before, and I grant him that was a good move. The problem with him … is he tried to sell me … on a winery.”
Nobody tells a shark what to do! The following year, O’Leary launched his own online wine business, and in many ways it resembles Martin’s – wine varieties of nebulous origin, in an unusual packaging size (1.5 liters in this case.)
To be fair, it’s more than Martin tells you about the Copa di Vino wines. Copa di Vino comes in seven flavors: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Moscato, White Zinfandel and Riesling. The label probably tells you where the grapes are from, but the website does not. Does anyone care about grape origin in a 187ml single-serving cup? Probably not; you can see how O’Leary got the idea. Sharks! They’ll eat you alive and we worship them for it.
So, Martin goes on Shark Tank to raise investment for Copa di Vino and walks away without any money, plus the “sharks” now dislike him. But other types of investors – perhaps starfish and moray eels – give him some money, and he increases sales from $600,000 to…
Go to the news source: Diving into the Shark Tank Wine Case