By Nick Bond
The Shark Tank panel in Australia were left speechless during last night's episode of the business reality show, faced with a pitch variously described as "uncomfortable" and "disturbing".
Kim Macrae is the creator and director of iKiFit, a Wiggles-esque learning program that involves a lot of singing and dancing with orange sticks. He's brought some children on site for a live demonstration:
"Iki says trumpet, toot! Toot, toot, toot! Let's do the Iki dance," he commands his troupe of "safe, respectful learners".
Slightly bewildering demo over, he turns to face the Shark Tank panel with a request: He wants an investment of $250k for a 10% stake in his business. That's right - Macrae values iKiFit at $2.5 million, and needs cash to deliver it to classrooms nationwide.
The Sharks are confused - "I don't know what it is" - admits Steve Baxter - and so Boost Juice founder Janine Allis offers Macrae a chance to expand on his pitch.
"What problem are you trying to solve?" she asks him.
Macrae - now quite clearly battling every public speaker's worst nightmare, cotton mouth - explains that iKiFit gives children aged 18 months to 18 years a chance to "do all those movements our ancestors did - chopping, rowing, kayaking, surfing," gesturing with his orange stick.
The iKiFit program is also big on rules because "for a long long time, education institutions haven't had clear rules or processes to manage behaviour".
Hang on. Janine stops him here: Every school has rules and processes to manage behaviour.
By now, the pitch is in a death spiral. Shark Dr Glen Richards announces he feels "subtly uncomfortable".
"That felt really awkward. It felt confining, it felt uncomfortable, and I was really disturbed by that," says Steve Baxter.
Macrae counters that he's grown used to that reaction to iKiFit.
They get down to numbers, as the Shark Tank panel grill him on the nuts and bolts of the business. iKiFit is currently in 16 early learning centres, each paying around $2000 a year. He estimates the business is bringing in around $50,000 in annual income.
And how much of his own money has he poured into it?
"$800,000. Hey, I'm happy."
"I'm glad you're happy, because that's an amazing amount of money for something that's got no traction and probably no prospect of traction," says Baxter.
Unsurprisingly, they all decline his offer to invest in the business. Talking to host Sarah Harris outside, Macrae vows not to give up. Back inside, Janine Allis has a less palatable piece of advice:
"Honestly, if he's invested $800,000 and he's made $50,000 back, I hope he gives up TODAY."
Viewers took to social media during the episode to express their confusion at the pitch: