Premiering in 2009, ABC's entrepreneur pitch show Shark Tank has seen it all. The premise of the show is simple: inventors and entrepreneurs pitch their products to real-life investors (called sharks). The sharks evaluate the products and decide whether to back the fledgling companies with their own money. From alarm clocks that wake you up with the smell of bacon to a scented candle that simulates the most alluring scents to attract a man (apparently this is beer, pot roast, and barbecue), the show has exposed its audience of as many as 5 million viewers to some of the silliest inventions ever conceived. However, over the years, the sharks have also seen some great ideas that just needed an investor (with deep pockets) to take off. Here are the top eight most successful products that got their start in the Shark Tank.
- The Product: A BPA and phthalate-free children’s drinking cup featuring a flexible straw that allows toddlers to drink easily and effectively.
- Sharks that bit: Mark Cuban and Croatia-born, Canadian entrepreneur Robert Herjavec ($100,000 for 40 percent equity in the company).
- Sales: More than $2 million in sales since the Shark Tank pitch.
- The Product: Gourmet cupcakes in a jar shipped nationwide.
- Shark that bit: Canadian investor and financial pundit Kevin O’Leary, known as the tough shark (zero equity but a 45-cent royalty on every jar sold).
- Sales: So far the company has had $14 million in sales since the episode aired in season four.
- The Product: Live-action horror entertainment company (think haunted house hayrides on steroids).
- Shark that bit: Mark Cuban ($2 million for a 20-percent stake).
- Sales: Since Shark Tank, the company made $2 million, and revenues are expected to grow between $2 and 3 million in 2017.
- The Product: An early detection and prevention system for bed bugs.
- Sharks that bit: All five sharks bit. They are Kevin O’Leary, Robert Herjavec, Mark Cuban, Daymond John, and real estate entrepreneur and investor Barbara Corcoran ($250,000 for 25 percent).
- Sales: International growth across 23 countries with sales of more than $1.2 million after the Shark Tank pitch.
- The Product: A subscription-based service that allows customers to receive a bound book of high-resolution photos taken from their smartphones.
- Sharks that bit: Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary ($150,000 in exchange for 80-percent licensing profits).
- Sales: A gain of 50,000 subscribers shortly after the pitch. Acquired by Shutterfly Inc. (SFLY) in 2014 for $14.5 million.
- The Product: Holiday-themed apparel.
- Shark that bit: Robert Herjavec ($100,000 for a 10-percent stake).
- Sales: Tipsy Elves raked in $600,000 a year in sales before appearing on Shark Tank and have currently seen more than $50 million in revenue.
- The Product: A personal care company best known for its toilet stool manufactured for easier bowel movements.
- Shark that bit: Inventor/entrepreneur Lori Greiner ($350,000 for 10-percent equity).
- Sales: Twenty-four hours after the deal, Squatty Potty saw $1 million in sales. By the end of 2017, that amount grew to nearly $33 million.
- The Product: A reusable super sponge in the shape of a smiling face that gets firm in cold water and soft in warm water. Scrub Daddy has also been lab-tested to rinse clear of debris and resist odors for up to two months. The ergonomic shape is designed to clean both sides of kitchen utensils at once.
- Shark that bit: Lori Greiner ($200,000 for 20-percent equity).
- Sales: Scrub Daddy has moved 10 million units for total sales of more than $50 million since the pitch. Before Shark Tank, the company had $100,000 in sales.
- The Product: A portfolio of seven different wines in a recycled glass-like container (patented) with a resealable, pull-off lid.
- Sharks that bit: None. Despite two appearances on the show, a deal could not be reached with the sharks.
- Sales: Copa Di Vina had sales of $500,000 before the pitch and $12 million in sales as of 2016.
The Bottom Line
Over the years, the Shark Tank stage has seen many great ideas and also a lot of duds. The countdown of its eight greatest products demonstrate there is still room for new ideas. No doubt, by offering exposure to millions of viewers and funding from shark investors, the Shark Tank will continue to launch successful entrepreneurs and products.