The Mad Optimist is a business that stays true to its name and is a breath of fresh air in a profit-driven market. The company provides customizable soaps and other body care products to its customers.
Founded by Mohamed A. Mahdi, Mohamed M. Mahdi, and Anthony Duncan, the company was initially inspired by the three looking for an alternative to regular soap as it is made of animal fat. As three vegan Muslims, the founder set out to introduce a vegan, halal, non-GMO soap that had all its ingredients ethically and sustainably sourced.
They have expanded their product range to include lip balms, shampoos, and other products. The customers can customize each product and choose the scent, size, packaging, etc. Each product is handmade and delivered directly to the customer’s doorstep.
The customization aspect of the product has immense potential, and the partners could have chosen to expand their business by focusing on it. However, The Mad Optimist holds different values as compared to other companies.
The business regularly donates a sizable share of its revenue to important causes and does not use mass manufacturing to increase profit margins. The sliding price scale is a massive feature of their business that truly sets them apart.
The business wants their products to be truly affordable to everyone, so they provide a range of prices to the customers who can choose the amount of money to give. The idea is that the higher-paying customers can offset the cost of those who cannot afford to pay high prices.
All these aspects of The Mad Optimist make it an unconventional business that looks set to fail due to its focus on its mission rather than revenue. However, the company is tenacious, just like its owners, and continues to stay in business and promote goodness.
Their website has a page that shows the customers all the revenue numbers of the business in the spirit of full transparency. The revenue might not be earth-shattering, but the company continues in the spirit of making the world a better place.
How Did The Shark Tank Pitch Go?
The three entrepreneurs entered their Shark Tank pitch in a jovial fashion, shuffling together with their grins and synchronized sounds. This instantly reduced the Sharks to laughter and communicated the enthusiastic and passionate nature of the business partners.
The trio introduced themselves, cracking jokes about the Mohameds’ identical names, which endeared them further to the Sharks. The vibe of the pitch was set as upbeat and comedic. The trio asked for $60,000 for a 10% stake in their company.
The trio began introducing their business and its uniqueness to the Sharks. They explained how their ideological leanings as vegan Muslims motivated them to introduce a soap that was vegan, Halal, and non-GMO.
The religious leaning also made their business a tool to try and give back to the community, so they often donated their proceeds. The Sharks looked intrigued, but you could see doubt creeping in for many of them as they realized that the business does not focus on its revenue.
Instead, it cares more about its mission. Kevin O’Leary looked especially stumped as the company seemed to go against all his investor principles.
The trio then explained how the customization of their products worked and demonstrated how a customer would choose the scent, packaging, etc. They handed out custom-made products to the judges as samples who appreciated the quality and look of the products.
O’Leary wanted to know if the customization meant the partners hand-made each soap according to the customer’s specifications. Upon receiving affirmation, O’Leary became visibly more frustrated, as he sensed the business was more feel-good than serious about making money.
The Sharks began grilling the trio about their numbers to see whether their growing concerns were accurate. The trio revealed that they had done $21,000 in soap sales in the last 8 months, which set off a new wave of dread among the Sharks.
They further informed the Sharks that they had made $97,000 in total for the year and around $800,000 in the last 7 years of the business. This solidified the Sharks’ fear, and they were all unimpressed by the company’s stagnation.
Robert Herjavec was the first one to pull out of negotiations. He claimed that the figures of the business did not merit any investment despite the kind and good nature of the three. Lori Greiner also declined to make an offer even though she loved the energy and will to do good that the business was established upon.
Guest Shark Daniel Lubitzky claimed that the three had lost sight of their product and focused more on their mission. That had caused their business not to reap any significant rewards.
O’Leary was incredibly frustrated by the business model and began to air his grievances as he believed the three were wasting their time with the business. He called their business akin to being stuck in the third level of hell. He also refused to make any offers.
Throughout the Shark’s protests against the business model, Mark Cuban had kept quiet, and he was now the last hope of the trio. Cuban appreciated the business’s mission statement and said the transparency aspect had attracted him to the business as he believed it would earn them repeat customers.
Cuban offered the entrepreneurs $60,000 for 20% despite O’Leary’s protests. The trio agreed to the offer on the contingency that they would donate all the day’s proceeds to charity as it was Ashura. Cuban agreed, and O’Leary held his head out of sheer frustration.
Our Review of The Mad Optimist
The Mad Optimist focuses on its mission statement but also provides high-quality, ethical products that are excellent for use. The growing market of mindful consumers and the transparency about ingredients and suppliers means that The Mad Optimist products fit all their criteria. A few aspects of the products can be further improved to enhance the customer experience.
Pros of The Mad Optimist
- The products are halal, vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free
- The company regularly donates to a charity
- Each product can be customized
- Sliding price scale means the products are affordable for everyone
- Completely transparent business model
- Suitable for sensitive skin
Cons of The Mad Optimist
- Does not focus on improving the products, and more focus is on the ideological aspects attached to the products.
Who Is It For?
The products are regular body care products that anyone can use. However, the customization aspect might attract people with sensitive skin who want to control the harsh ingredients in their products. The ethical nature of the products also attracts mindful consumers who wish to spend their money on businesses with sustainable models.
Are There Any Alternatives?
There is now a host of beauty products that cover the ethical side and also provide customization. Some of these brands are:
- Function of Beauty
The Mad Optimist is perhaps too idealistic a business, but it continues to be a welcome addition to a market space obsessed with profit margins. It is also an example for entrepreneurs that you do not necessarily have to let go of your values to run a business.