Shark Tank is one of the most watched television shows in the world. The reality television series premiered on ABC on August 9, 2009, and has aired thirteen seasons since then.
It’s premise is pretty simple. Entrepreneurs pitch their product or business idea to a group of successful inventors. If they are successful in impressing them, they get the chance to have their idea funded. Not only can scoring these investments help entrepreneurs bring their concepts to market but being on the show also gives them a ton of exposure.
Many contestants get shot down relatively quickly. And with that, the ‘golden’ ideas that they once whole-heartedly stood behind typically get flushed down the toilet. Even if someone is lucky enough to walk away with that coveted Shark Tank money, the deal can always fall through after the cameras stop rolling, and their business can still fail.
At times this is because of a business blowing up too quickly and not being able to keep up with the sudden influx of demand. Other times it’s because the deals that take place on the show fail to get finalized due to an unsuccessful behind-the-scenes negotiation.
Shark Tank’s track record is pretty impressive, but the majority of inventors that make it on the show end up getting the boot. So, it’s easy for budding inventors to get discouraged when they see so many products that have tanked. That being said, getting rejected on Shark Tank doesn’t always mean that an inventor’s creation is doomed. Several rejects have gone on to be wildly successful.
This video, however, is not going to be about those long-shot success stories. Rather, today we’re going to be taking a look at some of the worst Shark Tank failures that ended up losing TONS of money. If you’re a long-time Shark Tank fan, this is one video you won’t want to miss.
The Body Jac
For years, inventor Jack Barringer struggled to lose weight. His doctor insisted that he do push-ups, but this easier said than done for the husky innovator. To overcome the difficulties he was having getting in shape, Jack dreamed up a device that might be able to help him out. The machine that he came up with, the Body Jac, helps those that have very little upper body strength to do sets of push-ups just as easily as those that are more fit.
In order to secure the investment money, one of the Shark Tank investors suggested that Barringer drop a few pounds. Investor Barbara Corcoran quoted by the New York Daily News that nobody would buy the product after seeing Barringer’s gut.
So, Barringer took that advice to heart and promptly lost 30 pounds. After losing the weight, he awarded with $180,000 of investment money by Corcoran and Kevin Harrington. Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a very happy ending.
The company swiftly fell apart without any apparent reason. Corcoran later told Forbes that her worst investment was helping out a “fast talking cowboy selling exercise gear who needed to lose 50 pounds”.
You Smell Soap
After Megan Cummins pitched her luxury soap company idea to the Shark Tank investors, she walked away with a slick $55,000 deal from investor Robert Herjavec in exchange for a 20% stake in her company. She further was offered a 50 grand a year salary, but that’s when things started going downhill.
Herjavac apparently sent Cummins a contract that offered her $55,000 for half of her company. Since this wasn’t the deal she had agreed to earlier, Cummins rejected it. She also started having trouble keeping up with all of the orders flooding in.
Since then, Cummins business has bounced back and is still around today. She has, however, broken off all ties with Shark Tank. In retrospect, Cummins says that she should have gone with Mark Cuban instead, seeing as how he was willing to match Robert’s offer, but everything happened so quickly that she didn’t have time to think things through.
This company produces a device for fire hydrants and standard garden hoses that quickly attaches and detaches.
Investor Mark Cuban was so impressed by the pitch that he invested a whopping $1.25 into the company along with a three-year deal. Unfortunately, the deal fell through, and the reason why sounds pretty personal.
Not long after appearing on Shark Tank, the company’s founder Jeff Stroope posted on Facebook that Cuban’s ego negatively affected the deal and that he had tried to change it’s terms at the last minute. What ultimately killed the deal between the two men was the licensing of the product’s design.
Jeff Stroope ended up seeking out other investors and eventually got both a professional and home version of the product to market. In 2015, The Huffington Post reported that the company was worth $5 million. So, while Jeff seems to be doing quite well for himself, it looks like Cuban ended up drawing the short stick.
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Shelly Ehler pitched a product that was a cross between a poncho and towel. She had already patented it and licensed it out to Six Flags Magic Mountain and Legoland before going on Shark Tank and securing a $50,000 investment from Lori Greiner. While everything was looking very promising for Ehler, her partnership with Greiner ended up going south.
Ehler later wrote on her blog that the deal with Greiner had ‘turned to crap’, but instead of cursing her for kicking her to the curb, Ehler thanked Greiner for teaching her a lot about what the cuthroat business world was really like.
After six years of trying to keep her dream alive, Ehler finally shut down her business.
This company pitched its Toy subscription service as being the ‘Netflix of Toys’. Subscribers would receive a different toy every month as long as they kept up with their membership. After two funding rounds, the company received $250 thousand from Kevin O’Leary and Mark Cuban.
Even though they were successful in securing their funding, ToyGaroo still ended up failing pretty quickly. For one thing, sourcing the toys affordably proved to be quite tricky. They had hoped that their newfound investors might be able to put them in touch with contacts at some of the biggest toy manufacturers like Mattel or Hasbro, but nothing ever came from it.
Since they were running a ‘free shipping’ model, the folks behind ToyGaroo ran into more problems when it came to toys being of very different dimensions. Shipping costs inevitably became overwhelming.
Lastly, like most companies that appear on Shark Tank, ToyGaroo got a huge spike in subscriptions when the show aired. This sudden influx in business was simply more than they were capable of dealing with.
The company ended up filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on April 6, 2012, only a year after receiving its investment. They officially shut down operations in 2016.
Cole Egger and James McDonald got a $250,000 check from Mark Cuban for a 25% stake in their cake ball business.
Not long after securing the investment, the two business partners relationship soured. McDonald eventually sued Egger for breach of contract, but that was just the beginning of their problems.
Things escalated when SweetBallz.net started redirecting to Cakeballz.com, which was Egger’s follow-up company. McDonald ended up getting a restraining order against Egger. Cakeballz has since gone under, but McDonald’s SweetBallz company is still up and running as of 2022.
In the first season, Mark Burginger presented a puzzle-like plaything that could form different designs and geometric shapes. Mark patented the product and was seeking to secure $90,000 in exchange for a 51% share of the company.
Daymond John chose to take the bait and agreed to Burginger’s terms as long as he tried to get one of the top four toy manufacturers to strike a deal with them. After all four companies turned him down, Burginger’s Shark Tank deal also ended.
Even so, Qubits are still around and can be purchased through Burginger’s Amazon store.
William Strange went on Shark Tank pitching a subscription service for men’s underwear. He ended up leaving the show with a hefty $60,000 deal from Naomi Simson and Janine Allis in exchange for 25% of his company. While Strange was very happy with these terms, things changed once the cameras stopped rolling.
Strange had been developing two startups at the time, but he was warned by the Sharks that he would have to make a choice between the two. He ended up writing the investors explaining that he had decided to turn down their deal to instead go with his other business idea, a GPS-based company called Sports Performance Tracking.
Dough and Renata Storer went on Shark Tank to pitch their idea for running shoes equipped with rechargeable LED lights to light up the trail. They succeeded in scoring an offer with Robert Herjavec offering them $250,000 for 15% of their company, but after the show, the business owners had a change of heart and didn’t go through with the deal.
After the episode aired, they realized that they no longer needed the investment. So, instead of giving up equity, they decided that deal wasn’t going to be in their best interest. The Storer’s risk ended up paying off, because in 2015, they sold their website for $1.5 million.
Mike Abbaticchio and Shon Lees developed the Hillbilly clothing line and got the name trademarked. When they went on Shark Tank, they sought $50,000 for 25% of their company, but after the show aired, the deal ended up fizzling.
Behind the scenes, Abbaticchio and Lees told the Sharks that they had only gone on the show for the free publicity and that they never wanted a deal in the first place.
Since then, the Hill Billy brand has grown into a pretty successful business. They’ve recently expanded to the beverage market with their Hill Billy lemonade and sweet teas available at major retailers across the nation.
While we’re just about out of time, we’d love to hear from you!
Which Shark Tank failure do you think was actually a pretty good business idea? And do you think that any of the Sharks regret any of the pitches that they rejected? Let us know in the comments.
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