AN "INCREDIBLE" food bottle design that allows everyone from babies to the elderly to eat pureed vegetables, smoothies and even Weet-Bix without making a mess has wowed the judges on Shark Tank.
Melbourne husband-and-wife duo Glen and Julie-Anne Mayer entered Tuesday night's episode seeking a $120,000 investment for 12 per cent of Subo, "the world's first non-squeeze food bottle".
The parents of three young children said they created the product out of necessity to deal with mealtime, "the most stressful part of the day". The Subo allows children to feed themselves "safely and independently without the risk of a squeeze mess".
"The food sits on top of a platform and as you sip on the soft silicone spout, the platform automatically moves up the bottle," Julie-Anne said. "Once it's finished, it's easily disassembled for cleaning and to refill. Subo is great for pureed fruit and vegetables, smoothies and yoghurt, and even tinned spaghetti and Weet-Bix."
The key to the Subo is a one-way air valve at the bottom of the bottle, which allows air into the tube to push the platform up.
"Imagine feeding your kids yoghurt on the go, like in the back of the car or in the pram while you're shopping, and not having to clean up the mess afterwards," Glen said.
Glen said the inspiration came from a pump-pack toothpaste container.
"Jules came out of the shower one day holding an old toothpaste container," he said. "I kind of looked at her like she was mad. We got the hacksaw out, cut apart the toothpaste container, put some duct tape on it and created our own homemade prototype."
The couple said the Subo was originally made for children aged six months and up, but adults were now using it for things like protein shakes and smoothies. Subo has patents pending in 38 countries and is manufactured in Melbourne.
The couple said RMIT University had also expressed interest in using the bottle in the aged care industry.
"A lot of patients have to have thickened liquids so they thought it would be perfect for that," Glen said.
Investor Andrew Banks pointed out the colour scheme "might have to change for the adult market", while RedBalloon founder Naomi Simson was floored.
"This is an incredible design," she said. "Absolutely incredible."
The Sharks were also impressed with the numbers.
"It costs us $7 to make this product, our recommended retail price is $29.95," Glen said. "In the first 12 months we've sold 2500, revenue was $55,000. We think this year we can sell 7000 units [$165,000]."
They were slightly taken aback, however, when Glen revealed the couple had spent $580,000 developing the product - $260,000 of their own savings, and $320,000 through government grants.
The couple said they were seeking an investment for expertise.
"Our biggest problem is awareness," Glen said. "Not a lot of people know about this product. We want to get the product out there on shelves so people can see it and sell it."
While all of the Sharks were keen, the usually cranky internet entrepreneur Steve Baxter was jumping out of his seat to do a deal.
"What do I need to do to get you? I'm in," he said. "I'm on your journey. I've got a pair of 13-month-olds, this to me is a godsend. I think this is just amazing, it's so well built, so let's just talk about the future. You name your price. I'm with you, $120,000 for 12 per cent."
Naomi said she had "never seen him like this". She considered making an offer for "fun", but decided that wasn't fair.
"Business is serious and you've put a lot of money into this, energy and effort," she said.
Andrew also pulled out, saying he couldn't compete with Steve. Boost Juice founder Janine Allis said while she wanted to do a deal, it wasn't as good as Steve's offer.
Glen Richards mulled over making an offer. "Others might want to match and may have more expertise in getting things made," he said. "One of my companies does a lot of dealings online."
But the Greencross founder decided he couldn't match Steve's energy. "I've never seen Steven Baxter, the grumpy bastard, with so much enthusiasm," he said.
"And I just don't want to complicate this, because I've pinched few deals off him this season. He's obviously giving you an offer for his kids, I'm not going to get in the way."
Glen and Julie-Anne happily accepted Steve's offer. "Suckers, you missed out," he said. "Three hundred thousand babies born in Australia every year."
Shark Tank returns to Channel 10 on Tuesday 19 June at 8:30pm.