Photo Booth Owners Beware, Sharks In The Water

photo booth owners on shark tank

If you do not watch the TV show Shark Tank on ABC then you probably didn't know that this past Friday a portable photo booth company was on it pitching their business. With 4 of the 5 sharks declining nearly immediately they managed to hook the fifth and final one. They got a deal with Barbara Corcoran. What was the final deal, well we'll get to that.

If the deal survives final due-diligence I do believe that they could become a force in the industry with her connections and backing. Emphasis on "could" as I have my doubts.

The company Pink Shutter came to the show with a request for $300,000 from a shark for only 10% equity. That is a 3,000,000 valuation on a photo booth business that has been around less than 18 months! Wow! Needless to say the sharks didn't agree with this valuation.

Of interest in the photo booth, which was for the most part was not shown except for the popup tent and the back side of the equipment. The first impression I had was Mojo Photo Booths, as it looked very much like one. I was also able to notice a DNP DS40 distributing the prints. I suspect a low end DSLR like the Canon t3i and laptop with touch screen or all-in-one PC.

Shockingly these two pitched the booth as premium and unique yet I can list dozens of companies with pretty much the same product. Not too mention dozens more with much better looking products. Cost was their claim to taking market share, yet they said most "mom and pop companies will not do an event for less than $1,000". Wow that is a line of BS as I can think of 50+ just here in Ohio that are priced well under $1,000.

The stated financials were $195K year 1 and $135K Q1 of their second year. This is definitely possible and definitely healthy growth. But it is very short term in an industry just heating up in the past few years and poised to boil over in the next few (personal opinion).

The claim to premium equipment and a cost of $3,500 + $500 labor per booth are right in line with thousands of other booths out there. Yet this pair claims their "secret sauce" or difference is that they have cut costs. Where? My booths cost under $4k each and I bet most of the ones owned by you did to. Nothing differentiating there.

They claim 60% margins, while I operate a smaller regional company my margins are somewhat higher than this. Again nothing differentiating there.

One thing that they didn't mention was any proprietary software? I am betting that they are using one of the software offerings on the market. Again nothing differentiating.

The final deal was $300,000 for 33% equity and an even salary draw of $100/yr. Amazingly this is still a $1,000,000 valuation!

I think that once Barbara does her due-diligence she will end up walking away as this company brought nothing unique or that can be patented to the market. Their product is just another booth that blends in with so many others across the nation.

Did you watch the episode? If not you can watch it on Hulu (31:15).

What was your impression? Leave a comment below.

  • I looked over their website. Their prices are so much higher than ours, and I am in the NY/NJ market. Not only that, EVERYTHING was an add on, including footer design and double 4 x 6 prints, and $175 for dollar store props. I think this is going to bump up the short term photo booth entrepreneurs, and perhaps flood the market. You're right though, I saw nothing different than any other photo booth.

  • Cherie

    According to their website, they use Photo Booth Solutions (Social Booth, PBC, etc.) for their software.

    • I see you're right...Mike did pull the trigger it appears

      "Pink Shutter & Photo Booth Solutions have partnered together to create and offer to most complete, easiest to use, software solution for photo booth entrepreneurs under Pink Shutter Solutions."

  • Minh

    Ughhhh... But there goes the market. Lol. That's just advertising

  • Sounds like the show 'Dragon's Den' here in the UK.

  • Steven

    their business model is built around living social and groupon... that and their guarantee to undercut ANYONE. How long is that supposed to last? look at their reviews, not so great.

  • TimeOfYourLifePB

    That was ludacris!!! My
    wife and I couldn’t believe it. We build high end booths and have more than 35 across the country that are of MUCH better quality and look than theirs or Mojo’s. I agree, Barbara will back out of this deal when
    she does her due diligents. Crazy.

  • Sean Dell

    I watch Shark Tank every week since it started and Laughed at this one. As a bar owner I would never allow a booth that cheesy looking to operate in my bar. I to think the deal will drop. However they did get great publicity, so that alone will give them a boost , " As seen on ABC" "As seen on Shark Tank" Etc.

    • HAHAHA! I know... I have never thought about going on TV or doing anything with an non-profit company and get the exposure. Amazing and cool. But I think most of us (photo booth owners) notice this more than anyone. A normal TV viewer may look at it as a cool huge picture taking thing. LOL!!!

  • Danzilla

    Look any of us would KILL to get that kind of exposure. Kudos to them for getting on network TV. I am still looking for a victim to sacrifice to the photo booth gods to get my name out there.

  • Chris

    I saw this garbage. Exposure aside, I think they got screwed. 33% split three ways is going to be tough. Not to mention giving Groupon and Living Social up to 50% commission. In 5 years if they do start to make their money back from the investments, the competition will be 10 times what it is now. The mom and pops photo booth companies (like mine) run by one person will be able to make the same income as these guys because they are splitting their money too many ways. Not only that, most companies photo booths are killing this boring rehashed Mojo tent style booth. Just my opinion. They recently hit my market in Dallas, looking forward to crushing them.

    • WOW!!!! I hear you! This is exactly what I was thinking. I remember when Barbara kept saying, I will bring in the team of Entrepreneurs. I will bring in Entrepreneurs to work with you. I do believe in THIS market, she will need to bring in the big guns to keep them going (creative marketing, advertising, and designing team). It's going to be challenging and interesting all at the same time. They have to offer more to be different and keep their prices low ($299 and up).

    • Chris, love you mentality! Please keep us advised as to how "crushing them" goes. The PBO is routing for you and others in the Dallas area.

  • EZ-Photo Booth Jacksonville

    I also noticed that they were using probably breezesys dslr pro with the dnp ds40 printer. I didn't see how their booth with a pop up tent in "premium". As far as the profits go, I use the Hiti 510s and I did an event for a local credit union and spent around $75 on the ink/paper and made $2100. I didn't see anything they had as anything special.

    • EXACTLY!!! Barbara from the show who picked them, will have to get very creative and (sneaky) techie since the product they use, is easy to get (for local people like me). Like someone else mentioned, they have to go after VOLUME.

  • My husband and I are located in the Bay Area and they are definitely one of our competitors. They are going for volume. I believe they are using some of the money to franchise their business...I saw part of the episode, but my friend told me that is what they are using some of the money for. I agree with what everyone said...the info they provided was not real info, but wow, they just got a huge free advertisement.

    • They are definitely franchising and also looking to mass produce booths (the latter is unfounded at the moment)

  • Go Foto Yourself

    I bet most of us here provide the same product offering or at least somethingvery similar. If nothing else, they just got 10 minutes of advertising on prime time TV regardless if a deal actually gets done.I wouldn't mind that type of exposure.

  • iSIT Kiosk

    I just found out I made it to the final round for this season. Guess what? I am doing a photo booth too. But mine is definitely different. 🙂

  • Andrew Chadeayne

    These guys would have done much better if they had figured out a way to define their photo booth as NEW (i.e., different from existing booths). The inventors hinted at it but then failed to check off one of the Shark's critical boxes.... where's your patent? Why can't someone else enter the market. Here's a blog post about how Pink Shutter would have been better off by filing a patent application:

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