The success of acclaimed TV show Shark Tank has inspired thousands to pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship. By all accounts, everyone who appears on the show succeeds beyond their wildest dreams. But is that accurate? What happens to these intrepid entrepreneurs once the camera stops rolling? Do they return to their small companies, destined to stay where they were before they appeared on Shark Tank? Or will they find a way to leverage their success into something more? To determine if a trip to Shark Tank is worth the time and effort, consider the following real-life examples.
Season 5 pitchman Charles Yim gained attention for his product Breathometer, a portable Breathalyzer that can pair with a smartphone. For a $650,000 investment, the record-breaking investment team of five Sharks gained 30 percent of his equity. Yim’s product has garnered over $20 million in sales since his appearance on the show. He has since partnered with the Cleveland Clinic to improve the Breathometer and to develop additional products.
Wicked Good Cupcakes
Mother-daughter team Tracey Noonan and Danielle Vilagie brought their cupcake-in-a-jar company to Shark Tank during season 4. After their pitch, the pair made a deal with investor Kevin O’Leary, giving him royalties in lieu of equity for his investment of $75,000. Once his initial investment was paid back, he began receiving $0.50 per cupcake sold. In the days since the show, Wicked Good Cupcakes’ sales have grown from $7,000 a month to over $400,000, making this one of O’Leary’s most profitable investments from the show. The company has gone on to expand, opening additional locations and adding a new production facility.
Season 6 entrepreneurs Randy Goldberg and David Heath pitched their online athletic sock company to the Sharks during the 2014 season. Daymond John agreed to give the pair $200,000 for 17.5 percent of their company, and in just four days after the show aired, they sold more than $400,000 worth of socks. Born out of a desire to make a difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness, Bombas donates a pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair of socks sold. The year the company appeared on Shark Tank, sales topped $2 million. To date, Bombas has donated over 1,000,000 pairs of socks.
Cousins Maine Lobster
Cousins Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac started shipping lobster from their home state of Maine to California, where they now live. They opened a gourmet food truck serving fresh lobster dishes, including its popular lobster rolls, to the epicureans of California. During their pitch on season 4 of Shark Tank, the pair struck a deal with Barbara Corcoran, giving her 15 percent of the company for an investment of $55,000. Not long after their show aired, the company grew to $700,000 in sales. In 2014, they pulled in $8 million.
Capitalizing on the trend of ugly Christmas sweaters, Robert Herjavec invested $100,000 in Tipsy Elves in exchange for 10 percent of the company. Rather than focusing on one season of the year, Herjavec helped the ugly-sweater company find other niche markets to enter, resulting in sales approaching $12 million annually, a dramatic increase from the $900,000 they had before their appearance on the show.
The Red Dress Boutique
Husband and wife team Josh and Diana Harbour pitched their online women’s fashion company to the Shark Tank in season 6 and walked away with a combined $1.2 million from Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec. By giving the investors 10 percent of their company, the pair received advisors and assistance, which was greatly needed in the days following their show’s appearance. Within the first week, they had sales of over $1 million. With Cuban serving as the lead advisor, the Sharks helped them smooth out their infrastructure problems that arose due to high demand. Since then, Red Dress Boutique has seen tremendous growth, with sales of $14 million annually.
Nuts ‘n More
Another company that left the Shark Tank with a Herjavec/Cuban deal, Nuts ‘n More was a nut butter company making $100,000 a year in sales. After a $250,000 investment from Herjavec and Cuban, the company has exploded. With a focus on fitness, Nuts ‘n More signed a deal with GNC, a move the company says has the potential to boost their sales to $20 million.
Strategic partnerships, such as the ones formed on Shark Tank, can catapult entrepreneurs to levels of success they never dreamed would happen. As an entrepreneur, you have to decide if, and when, the right time to seek outside funding may be. For these companies, their appearance on Shark Tank was a turning point that escalated their business to new heights, a particularly impressive feat for the majority of companies that started at a dining room table.