Michael Shiavone ordered a decaf coffee late one night, then couldn’t sleep. He knew the server had made a mistake and given him caffeinated. Surely others experienced the same thing, and he wondered if he could find a solution. Michael developed and patented the Caffeindicator, a litmus-like test for sweetener packets that does not affect the contents of the packet. Dip the packet into the coffee. If the test area changes color, the coffee is caffeinated.

Caffeindicator Shark Tank

Michael needed an investment and the sharks’ expertise to set up a corporation and to be able to afford the licensing fees and attorney fees involved. He also needed help opening doors to the “big five” sweetener companies (each known colloquially by the color of their packets). He, essentially, wanted to start a bidding war. Yellow against blue against green—whichever company won would zoom to the top of the sweetener charts. Even people who do not use sweetener will use the packet to test for caffeine. Plus the companies already have the resources for manufacturing and distribution.

Caffeindicator Shark Tank 4

Barbara goes out; she doesn’t think people are that distrustful of the baristas. The remaining sharks agree that there is no market if the sweetener companies do not buy in. Michael accepts a deal from Kevin Harrington that is contingent upon getting a deal from one of the major sweetener companies.

We do not know exactly what happened with the Caffeindicator. There is no trace of it anywhere, so it feels safe to assume that the sweetener companies were not interested and, therefore, Kevin kept his $200,000. Michael returned to mechanical engineering while still tapping into his creativity by finding solutions through the use of multimedia and 3D animation.

Shark Tank Air Date: 1/29/2010 – Season 1 – Episode 13




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