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Plate Topper is On the Shelf and In the Tank

plate topperPlate 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 PlateTopper, 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 PlateTopper 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 product in 2005 while studying biomedical engineering and medicine at Princeton University. The essential component is a rubberized ring around the plastic cover. Press it 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.

I am “IN!”  ***So was Lori Greiner after a grueling negotiation session she funded $90K for 8% of the business. ***


Added by KT: Found this note from Lori on Twitter: Looks like she’s out!

Lori Greiner@LoriGreiner

Sorry to say I wound up not liking his tactics much either, that agony didn’t end in the tank.I’m out! #sharktank @ABCSharkTank


Here’s a video preview I unearthed:

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob and more.


  1. What a weird person, couldn’t stop yelling “moron” “stupidass” “what the hell are you doing” at the TV.

    How does humanity have people like this?

  2. Jing Liang says

    Wow, that was the greatest example of value destruction ever on the SharkTank. A teachable moment.

  3. Gail Owens says

    I just watched this guy on Shark Tank with the PlateTopper. I do think it’s probably a good idea, but with some checking, this was rolled out a year ago in November. So, I just think this was a publicity stunt because he apparently doesn’t need the money since he’s already sending them overseas. He’s lucky they didn’t throw him out….I certainly would have.

  4. My PVR stopped and I missed the Last Minute?#$%^ What deal, if any did Lorie End Up Making?

    • $90K for 8%

      • Thanks for your quick response Rob; Michael tried outfoxin’ the Sharks . As soon as he started Drooling on the first round; I really did Cherish the Sharks for the way they paralyzed him for as long as they did. ‘They needed too!’ I was feeling the same thing. Anyhow, I really wish ‘SweetHeart’ Lorie would have snowed this Kid.

  5. Lola Kneip says

    I really liked these! Walmart-online is out, and I can’t find the Large Cake topper anywhere! Looks like a great product IF you can find them! QVC has the plate toppers @ $2.00 higher. He could have made made a great deal….but really made the Sharks mad. Pretty stupid for a very bright man.

  6. So did he take the deal or no??

  7. Even Lori backed out the deal afterwards.

  8. Would love to see this on Amazon. Is it BPA free??

  9. Susan Muehlfelder says

    Did he take the deal or not! Our DVD did not tape the last minutes…

    • Lil swimmer says

      Honestly the product is amazing but the guy was not very smart on shark tank. He delayed to much and when he did that sharks dropped out because of it. This guy couldn’t make a choice and I hope that Lori can help him with his attitude.

  10. Susan Muehlfelder says

    Did he take the deal or not? And how much!

  11. That guy was a complete joke. Did anyone else catch his sneaky smile when he was walking out to make the phone call? I did and from then on i was not impressed. If it were me i woulf of heard lorie’s offer and ran with it. She is the one for that product.
    To me it seemed that it was a stunt of some sort to get the name out.
    Great product though. The inventory needs to have shilvery, and grace.

  12. That was interesting. Obviously they are sharks so they are not going to give him a fair deal. That’s how they got rich. They’re the ones putting their money on the line. But at the same time, this Tseng guy treated them as if they had come for an auction and he wanted to feel them out see how much money he could get out of them. I don’t know if he was stupid or just bold. Both sides were over the line. I actually got anxious watching the give and take. I’m glad I don’t do that kind of thing on a daily basis. That black fella, forget his name, is quite annoying. He’s always the first one to be out and seems very easily offended. How the heck did he get rich? Did he not have to kiss some asses?

    I’m more surprised at Tseng’s stupidity though, in the way he was trying to get the best deal out of them. How could you to Princeton and be so smart and yet not realize that you can not be a used car salesman HERE. Whole other game.

    Fun episode

  13. Michael did take the deal at $90K for 8%. For those of you who DVR the event, set up your DVR to record 1 hour and 1 minute, otherwise I used to miss the last minute. If you actually want to know how the last story ends and are not watching the television, use the options selection on your DVR to record 1 additional minute.

  14. It sounds like a great product but with how he acted, it makes me not want to purchase it.

  15. Did Lori really back out? I know this episode was taped earlier – what is the situation currently?

    • It appears she did based on her Twitter comments. He was already on QVC which means Lori would have to negotiate with whoever has the current contract with Michael and Plate Topper in addition to her negotiations with Michael. That can get sticky.

  16. Bob Checca says

    Special Ed, get on the short bus Michael. BTW, don’t forget your helmet bud.

  17. Joshua Johnson says

    After researching a lot of Shark Tank deals its not uncommon for the deal we see go down on TV not actually happen. It’s still a great show though.

  18. This guy did not come on Shark Tank to make a deal. He came on for free publicity for his already successful product.

    He did not need financing. He did not need assistance. That’s why he was a bit of a a-hole. His whole performance was odd and ridiculous.

    I wish the show would do better research and try to only have on people who really need help.

  19. I think he was just there for the publicity and never really wanted to, (or needed to) make a deal. Saw his pitch on a crowd-funding site… he raised over $18 grand. I think after the Sharks do their due diligence, they will see this guy is hiding something. Too bad, good idea, a product I may buy, but then I ask, if this guy is hiding something from the sharks, maybe he’s hiding some flaw in the product? Maybe it catches on fire in the microwave or something… who knows?

  20. There is already a product called the press dome. Its the samething.

  21. I get the sense the guy has a lot of book smarts & his pitch was well rehearsed, as were responses to anticipated questions/objections. However, I don’t think he has a knack for reading people. I notice he didn’t read any of the sharks right at any point. So he wasn’t able to respond appropriately as the exchange ebbed & flowed. As it was quite a long segment the actual exchange probably lasted close to an hour. An hour of using skills you’re not familiar with & on your feet will exhaust you; like the way he bent over & looked like he was going to pass out near the end. He really needed someone with people/soft skills with him.

  22. Tadashi Yee says

    While the Food Topper is a good product & effective, there ARE similar products out there such as the Press Dome (which creates a better suction). The Food Topper’s sliding top slid wears out & suction can no longer be achieved w/ wear. It’s clear plastic (more subject to wear) rubbing against clear plastic.

    To make matters worse is Michael Tseng’s dishonesty & sleazy attitude. He knowingly knew that he’s already had a deal w/ QVC & can NOT enter a simultaneous deal w/ Lori to sell them on QVC. His used car salesman arrogance can only be matched w/ his dis-respectfulness towards Lori. When all the other Sharks clearly was repuksed by his antics & were out & Lori was the only one still in, he repeatedly ignored her while trying to weasel in one of the men. On that alone, if I were her, I’d drop him.

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