Shark Tank to Feature Philly-Made SmartPlate

It analyzes your food and outputs nutrition facts. Will Mark Cuban and company bite?

Martin Dell'Arciprete pitches SmartPlate on Shark Tank. (ABC/Michael Desmond)

Martin Dell’Arciprete pitches SmartPlate on Shark Tank. (ABC/Michael Desmond)

Every startup company is looking for one thing: traction. Maybe they get some momentum after a speaking engagement, news article or crowdfunding campaign, but there’s one thing that’s sure to bring serious attention every time: ABC’s hit TV show Shark Tank.

The folks at Philly-based Fitly certainly hope so. The company’s signature product, SmartPlate will be featured on February 12.

SmartPlate analyzes your food and offers calorie counts and other nutritional information. It uses three digital cameras and advanced image recognition and weight sensors to identify the food. Then it calculates how much protein, fat, carbs and sugar you’re about to consume. Plus it’s microwavable and dishwasher safe, its founder says.

SmartPlate seems like a natural fit for Shark Tank — it’s a consumer product and it’s generated hundreds of thousands in sales in the past few months, according to CEO Anthony Ortiz. A big part of that was a Kickstarter campaign that raised $100,000 and generated lots of pre-orders. In fact, that’s what got the attention of Shark Tank producers, said Ortiz.

“Two of the head producers from Shark Tank reached out to us separately, unbeknownst to the other,” said Ortiz. “Their casting process aims to find the most interesting and fundable types of companies, so they’re proactively looking in places like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.” That’s pretty impressive considering that more than 30,000 companies apply annually the show — and only 200 get filmed, and just over 100 actually get airtime.

Interestingly, Martin Dell’Arciprete, Fitly’s head of marketing, pitched to the Sharks instead of Ortiz, who said he feels more comfortable behind the scenes. According to his LinkedIn page, Dell’Arciprete has left Fitly and now works for Moroch Partners.

Regardless, it’s been quite a year for Fitly. The SmartPlate was featured on Good Morning America on December 21, leading to more than $30,000 in sales in just 18 hours, said Ortiz. That could be a great preparation for the so-called “Shark Tank bump.”

“[Shark Tank] has got over 10 million viewers now, so that’s quite a lot of traffic,” said Ortiz. “Most people will be watching are on their couch, probably eating something. We’ll just have to prepare and expect the best.”

The SmartPlate will be available in the summer or fall of 2016, said Ortiz. The key to getting those pre-orders converted into actual products is manufacturing — and SmartPlate signed deals with Tandem Design and Flextronics to help make that a reality.

Will Mark Cuban and the Sharks bite? We’ll find out on February 12.

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