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Final Straw

final straw Emma Cohen and Miles Pepper pitch Final Straw, their collapsible, portable and reusable drinking straw, in episode 1001. They call their product “the greatest advancement in sucking technology – since like forever.” They’re capitalizing on the plastic straw ban problem. Americans use over 500 million straws every day and many of them end up in the ocean. Plastic straws are known to kill sea animals, including endangered sea turtles. California banned the sale and use of plastic straws earlier in 2018 and there’s a growing awareness of the wastefulness they represent.

Final Straw is a reusable, stainless steel straw with soft tips on each end. The straw folds up into several pieces.  It’s small enough to fit in a key chain carrier the size of most car key remotes. Each Final Straw comes with a mini squeegee to clean the insides. They’re dishwasher safe, too.Cohen and Pepper got Final Straw of the ground with a wildly successful KickStarter campaign that raised over $1.8 million! They list the product as shipping in November, 2018.

Ditching the Plastic

The company is taking advantage of a national trend to ban plastic straws and other single use plastic items that pollute our oceans and can harm wildlife. Hardly a day goes by without a story of a dead marine animal dying due to ingesting plastics. Many cities, states, and even companies are eliminating plastic straws from the dining landscape. Environmentalists acknowledge that straws are the tip of the iceberg, but they hope the awareness bans create will lead to larger efforts and behavior change to help curb the over 300 million metric tons of single use plastics dumped yearly world-wide. Final Straw says they want their product to not only reduce plastic waste, but to bring awareness to the “devastating effects of plastic pollution.”

Cohen is no stranger to pollution reduction. In her four years at the Los Alamos National Labs, she was a pollution specialist. The Harvard grad has a degree in environmental management and made it her mission to reduce waste at the labs. Peppers background is in cinematography. While working in that industry, he designed drones that lift heavy objects for the film industry. The pair gathered a team, designed Final Straw and raised money to get it off the ground. They’re hoping a Shark will help them take their product global.

Final Straw Company Information

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FinalStraw – Stainless Steel Drinking Straw

Final Straw Shark Tank Recap

Emma and Miles enter the Shark Tank seeking $625,000 for 5% of their business. To illustrate the issue of single use straws, thousands of straws rain down on the pair from above. They give their pitch and hand out samples. The Sharks take it all in and then come the objections.

Daymond doesn’t think anyone will actually pay this much for a straw. Lori says she’s seen dozens of straws like this for sale (more on that below). Kevin makes an offer of $625,000 for 10% plus a $2 per straw royalty until he recoups $1.8 million. Cohen doesn’t like the royalty and says she’ll entertain a higher percentage. With that, Kevin is out. Mark offers $625,000 for 25% and they decline. No Deal.

Final Straw Shark Tank Update

The Shark Tank Blog constantly provides updates and follow-ups about entrepreneurs who have appeared on the Shark Tank TV show. Things got a bit Shaky for Final Straw after their Shark Tank appearance. Before their Kickstarter was even completed, cheap Chinese knock offs were flooding the US market. Alibaba had dozens of listings for the knockoffs. With a little urging from CNBC’s Nightly Business Report reporter Andrea Day, Alibaba removed the knock off manufacturers from their website. In September, 2020, the International Trade Commission issued a General Exclusion Order for Final Straw which bars importing products that infringe on their patent. You can learn more about that HERE and HERE.

While all that was going on, Emma Cohen sued Miles Pepper when she discovered that he, along with someone who worked in Final Straw’s outside marketing agency, were secretly attempting to launch a rival collapsible straw business. He also cancelled company credit cards and locked Cohen out of the company’s web properties. The suit must have been settled as Peppers’ LinkedIn profile says he exited the company in February, 2019. There are no mentions of it after the initial suit either. Peppers started Sanikind, a reusable hand sanitizer dispenser, with a successful Kickstarter campaign in August, 2020.

After a rocky couple of years, things are smoothing out for this business. They introduced a folding, reusable fork and spork and a large, silicon reusable straw that’s big enough for thick milkshakes. As of July, 2022, the company is operating smoothly and has annual revenue of $7 million.

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