Shark Tank’s Daymond John Isn’t Sold On LaVar Ball And Big Baller Brand’s Business Model

LaVar Ball and his Big Baller Brand probably wouldn’t pass the Shark Tank evaluation for its ZO2 Prime shoes. According to FUBU CEO and Shark Tank investor Daymond John, Ball has the right idea but needs to be careful if he wants to turn a $495 signature shoe for his son Lonzo Ball into an empire.

John spoke about the shoe of the moment Monday on the Rich Eisen Show, saying he understands what Ball is doing with a signature shoe but he worries the patriarch of the Big Baller Brand needs to be careful not to grow too quickly or alienate customers before they ever deliver a product. And that product, he warned, better be good.

“It’s a good gamble,” said John, who started FUBU independently and joined the cast of Shark Tank in 2006. “I probably don’t disagree with him but he has to be careful.”

John stressed that the quality of the shoe needs to be good to deliver on such a high price point, something many sneakerheads have publicly worried about the shoe that’s being made without the help of companies like Nike and Adidas.

Eisen pointed out that, thus far, the point of an expensive shoe is to separate the haves from the have-nots, noting Ball’s tweet that only “big ballers” can afford the shoe. John wasn’t a fan of that thinking.

“That’s a little raw,” John said. “That’s a little in your face because honestly, I’m a ‘big baller,’ I promise you that, but I’m not paying $500 for shoes.”

Rather than take major shoe companies head on, John suggested the ZO2 Prime should be a “proof of concept” for Ball. Take your time, make a good shoe, learn about your target market and then bring a proven winner of a brand to a major shoe company and grow from there.

He definitely has to just do it 6 months to a year, take preorders, build the best shoe that he can. Put out only 100, 200, 300 (pairs).

And then after that then he can go to the Nike or whoever it is and say ‘This is how old my customer is, this is how many units I’ve sold, this is how much they’re willing to pay, this is how much they’re not willing to pay, these are the colors that work.’ Do all the research for them.

John also said Ball should not purchase and make the shoes themselves until the money from preorders is in the bank. That’s something he would ask were Ball to bring his brand to the set of Shark Tank and ask for an investment.

When Eisen and his staff described the business model — including the $220-dollar slide announced on the same day, John appeared a bit flustered.

This is not the face you want a fellow businessman to make when hearing of your business plan.

“That’s too much inventory. That’s too many SKUs, as we call it,” John said. “You have to master the one thing you do the best.”

Regardless of the business critique, Big Baller Brands is moving forward with their plans. Perhaps Ball has thought about all the angles John brought up in the interview, or maybe he doesn’t care. People are still talking bout his first shoe. It’s still unclear if anyone will actually buy it, though.