Ned Kensing and Jennifer Wright-Laracy want to change the way America enjoys take-out pizza with Green Box, their “green” pizza box. They pitch Green Box in Shark Tank episode 620. The product itself is actually packaging and it's the only (so far) product the “parent” company, Ecovention, produces. It's known as “the pizza box of the 21st century.”
The Green Box is a patented product made from recycled cardboard. On the surface, it looks like any other pizza box, but a closer look reveals a perforated cover that tears into 4 plates. The bottom folds into a handy storage container for those leftover slices. The pizza boxes can be branded for an individual pizzeria and they sell advertising on some boxes.
The Green Box is making its way across the country and into Canada with hundreds of stores using the product. Whole Foods uses the Green Box for their pizzas, too. So far, no major pizza chains use the product, but an appearance on Shark Tank ought to provide some serious exposure and spark some interest on that front. Ned and Jennifer are no slouches at PR, they got media attention all over the place from local TV news to national shows like The Chew, Fox and Friends, and Rachel Ray. It was even voted one of the top 50 inventions of 2009 by Time Magazine.
My Take on Green Box
Just about everybody likes pizza, and in our house it's a once a week meal: Tuesday night is pizza night. We order from Liberty Pizza, a local place around the corner from our house. Our pizza comes in standard boxes (which we do recycle) which isn't a problem when dining at home. The Green Box would come in very handy for those nights we have pizza at the soccer field.
This is a great product. As far as my research goes, it doesn't cost any more than a “standard” pizza box. Pizza shop owners can actually get them cheaper if there's advertising on the box. While a pizza box wouldn't make me change my loyalty to our favorite places, it would be a good thing if they adopted this packaging. Anyone who ever tried to cram a pizza box into the fridge will appreciate the folding storage feature.
Pizza boxes are a ubiquitous bit of packaging and for the Ecovention gang, that in itself could be a boon to the business. Since it's patented, they can probably have them made at any paper production plant with the proper tooling. There are many shops using the product now, but there is so much more room for market penetration, particularly by licensing it out to national chains. I think Green Box is a winner.
Do Sharks Eat Pizza (Boxes)?
The best things Green Box has going for it in the Tank is their patent and their history of sales. There are over 5 BILLION take-out pizzas sold globally each year, 3 billion in the USA alone; that's a lot of pizza boxes! The proprietary nature of the product, its mass appeal, and the “green factor,” coupled with sales, ought to have the Sharks salivating over this business.
Packaging isn't a sexy business, but it is a necessary one. The Sharks will see the innovation and ought to realize the potential. I imagine there will be a lot of talk about licensing to national pizza chains and an offer may be contingent on that fact. I can't see Lori getting involved with this as it's out of her wheelhouse, but any of the other Sharks could make a play; let's just hope Mr. Wonderful doesn't do one of his royalty offers!
I think Green Box will field more than one offer, whether they accept remains to be seen. So far, they are doing just fine without a Shark, so the exposure alone could be enough to accelerate their growth. Deal or no deal, Green Box looks to be on its way to delivering fast profits alone with the pizza!