HotShot is a canned hot coffee which is available in five different flavors: Espresso, French Vanilla, Black, Chocolate, and Caramel.
The company brews its coffee at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit and, thanks to an innovative technology, remains hot for an extended period of time. In addition, buyers can handle the coffee without the risk of getting burned.
Danny Grossfield is the founder of HotShot. Even prior to this venture, Danny was a successful entrepreneur, and actually came up with the idea for HotShot during one of his business trips to Tokyo in 2008. Danny needed a cup of coffee at five in the morning, and combed through every store in the area to get his caffeine fix. However, to his dismay, not even a single store had any hot coffee at the time. Eventually, he abandoned his search, and decided to get a soda instead. He entered a store and opened the cooler, only to find, to his pleasant surprise, that what he thought was a cooler was in fact a heated unit containing ready-to-drink cans of coffee.
He was so impressed with the idea that he started working on it as soon as he returned to the United States. He began to experiment with coffee recipes and, after numerous trials and errors, finally had the perfect formula. He also invented the Hotbox, the heating unit which could maintain the temperature of hot coffee for as long as 90 days.
He used his own funding, as well as the funding that he received from friends and families, to get the production process underway. By early 2015, he had invested over $2 million, but had managed to generate a very positive response from the 1,000-can pilot project that he had recently conducted. He then decided to perform a larger, 4000-can pilot, and turned to Kickstarter for help. The Los Angeles Times wanted to conduct an interview about Danny’s business, which provided him the chance to promote his Kickstarter campaign. Unfortunately, the campaign only managed to raise the $10,000 out of the 80 grand that Danny was targeting.
Is HotShot Still an Active Business?
No. It seems that HotShot coffee has gone out of business. Their website can not be reached.
How Did the Shark Tank Pitch Go?
Even though the LA Times article could not help Danny achieve his Kickstarter target, it did help him attract attention from the Shark Tank producers. The producers, appreciating Danny’s passion, drive, and tenacity, invited him to the show.
Danny made his Shark Tank appearance in October of 2015, seeking an investment of $300,000 in exchange for a 10% stake in HotShot – a company valuation of $3 million.
He talks about his trip to Japan and how it led to the inception of HotShot. He says that, thanks to his product, coffee consumers will no longer have to worry about preparing the beverage themselves.
Danny told the Sharks that he had invested $2 million over a period of six years but had yet to achieve any sales. To this, Chris Sacca quipped that he was confused if Danny was pitching a product or looking for therapy from the Sharks.
Kevin narrated the Greek myth of Sisyphus – a man who rolled a boulder all the way up a mountain, only to see it roll back down. Kevin compared Danny to Sisyphus, saying that he had pushed the HotShot boulder up a mountain and, since he had not yet achieved any sales, the boulder was bound to come crashing back down.
Danny tries to defend himself, stating that he has attracted a lot of interest from cinemas, but he wanted to test the product before mass-launching it. This was not enough to impress Kevin, who felt that, if a product does not generate any sales in six years, it should be taken behind a barn and shot. Needless to say, Kevin was out.
Robert too, stepped out of the deal, saying that there are a lot of shops that sell readymade coffee, and Danny’s product was unlikely to take off.
Chris Sacca said that he had already invested in Blue Bottle Coffee, and he felt that the two businesses would compete for the same space. Owing to this conflict of interest, Chris Sacca was out.
Mark, too, stepped out of the deal, but he did say that he would put HotShot in Landmark Theaters.
Lori, too, agreed with Kevin, saying that, after such a massive investment and no returns at all, there was a very low probability that the product would be a success. She said that, apart from the five Sharks, there must also be a sixth person to reject the business, and that person was Danny, himself. In other words, Lori advised Danny to cut his losses and shut the business down.
Ultimately, HotShot was not hot enough to fire up the Sharks, and Danny had to leave the Tank without a deal.
Our Review of HotShot:
The idea of grab-and-go gourmet coffee seems to be a pretty cool one. All the flavors offer a pretty decent taste, but we felt that Black Coffee was the best of the lot – especially for people who were looking for a nice boost of energy to kick off their day. Other readymade coffee brands only offer cold varieties, but HotShot can be consumed both hot and cold.
Pros of HotShot:
- Readymade coffee
- Stays hot for up to three months
- Comes in a wide range of flavors
- Can be consumed cold or hot
- The flavors might be too strong (or mild) for some people.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Below are a few alternatives to HotShot:
- Sail Away Coffee
- Illy Ready-to-Drink Cold Brew
- Kitu Super Espresso
Our Final Thoughts:
HotShot attempted to introduce the concept of canned hot coffees to the USA. Despite not being able to secure a deal on Shark Tank, the business continues to go strong, and since 2015, has managed to go from revenue of $0 to annual sales of over $2 million.