Plate Topper is one of those inventions that comes along and makes you say “why didn't I think of that?” Entrepreneur Michael Tseng brings his Plate Topper into the Shark Tank for episode 410 on Friday, November 2, to help Shark Tank kick off sweeps month and the new 9 PM time slot.
All the pre-show hype points to another confrontational episode with Lori Greiner and Daymond John going at it once again. Lori told me via email this weekend it's “going to be a really wild night, I think the most all year!” When and if Lori and I talk this week, I'll be sure to get her view on the Plate Topper, but I have my suspicions about what happens.
What is Plate Topper?
The best way to describe Plate Topper is it's kind of like half a Tupperware container that uses a standard plate as the bottom of the container. The Plate Topper creates an air tight seal, storing leftovers right on the plate where they'll eventually be eaten. I have used upside down bowls to do this for years, Plate Topper is a true “AHA” product. Its sheer genius is in its simplicity. Plate Topper is great for keeping a dinner plate covered when someone will be eating later, perfect covering plates to be set out later for parties, and fantastic for plain old leftovers. The Plate Topper also provides structure as opposed to covering a plate with plastic wrap; you can stack plates without squashing food. It's the coolest thing to happen to food storage since Tupperware.
A History of Innovation and Success
Entrepreneur Michael Tseng invented Plate Topper in 2005 while studying biomedical engineering and medicine at Princeton University. The essential component is a rubberized ring around the plastic cover. Press the plate topper down on a plate, and an airtight seal is instantly created. When you need whatever is on that plate, just pull on the tab and you're good to go. Now based in San Francisco, Tseng has spent the last couple of years bringing the product to market, with much success.
Last year Tseng and his Plate Topper were winners in WalMart's popular “Get on the Shelf” Contest. The public voted on the best products, so some credit has to be given to Mr. Tseng's marketing and social media prowess. Good marketing only works if the product has merits though, and Plate Topper certainly does. It's one of those items that will undoubtedly find its way into millions of homes. Plate Topper can currently be found at WalMart and on QVC. It is NOT for sale on the Plate Topper website. It has the potential of being as ubiquitous as Tupperware.
Sharks Think Plate Topper is Tops
The Sharks are going to go into a feeding frenzy on this one. Tseng is in the unique position of being in both Daymond and Lori's territory before jumping in the Shark Tank. Daymond has WalMart connections and Lori is the QVC Queen. While there may be some back-end contractual issues, Scrub Daddy proved last week that those can be overcome. The fact that Plate Topper has demonstrable sales and has inroads into national distribution will allow Mr. Tseng to negotiate the best deal.
Plate Topper is the latest product in season 4 that already has a retail presence. Entrepreneurs in this situation are usually seeking the Sharks' connections to assist with rolling a product out in an accelerated fashion. While the money is important, the route to retail distribution is the primary goal of businesses in this situation. Plate Topper is sure to create a bidding war among the sharks. Look for Michael Tseng to leave the shark tank with one of the richest deals to date and one or more partners.
Added by KT: Found this note from Lori on Twitter: Looks like she's out!
Here's a video preview I unearthed: