Season 7, Episode 8: Your students will find this pitch by a fellow millennial especially motivating. Jeff Overall’s business, PolarPro, is in a very competitive space. After he delivers his intro speech, stop the video (time 1:49) and ask students what type of market structure he is operating in and why. What profit maximizing strategies can he employ in this type of market? Constant innovation and/or economies of scale are critical for success. Why? Innovations in this market are easily copied and accompanying profits quickly competed away. Economies of scale provide a variable cost advantage that will price smaller competitors out of the market. Jeff chose constant innovation as his strategy since he currently lacks the capital investment to lower production costs. An interesting comment by Jeff at 4:25 is sure to spark students’ attention. In Jeff’s case, what would have been the opportunity cost of using his student loan toward books? Immediately following that, a discussion of opportunity costs continues with Jeff’s decision to make higher profits or invest in R & D.
Season 2, Episode 1: Copa Di Vino, owned by James Martin, is the first premium wine sold by the glass. James, currently controls the vertical chain of production: he has a winery, packages his own wine by the glass, and distributes the wine. However the sharks believe that company’s value will be higher if it vertically disintegrates. The sharks are only interested in the intellectual property (patent) that James holds, since he is the sole producer that can package wine in this form. They believe his monopoly power over the packaging will reap the highest profit by licensing it to others. James does not want to split the company and believes it is more profitable as one firm because of the high subjective value he places on his brand. He leaves the tank without a deal.
Season 4, Episode 21: Taylor and Jason develop an innovation for coolers, an industry with only 3 major competitors! Their idea is to put LED lights in a cooler to make it easier to find what you’re looking for in the dark. The sharks point out that they’ll never be successful selling their own coolers in such a concentrated market and will have to license their technology to one or more of the big players. This is an excellent discussion starter for oligopolistic competition and barriers to market entry.