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Shark Tank Down the Road: How Successful are the Program's Sponsored Ventures?

Singers have "American Idol," designers have "Project Runway" and entrepreneurs have "Shark Tank."

This hit ABC show gives small business owners the opportunity to display their unique products in front of a panel of judges, which is made up of successful business men and women in search of their next deal. The panel hears pitches from contestants, then decides which entrepreneurs they will support and invest in, using their own money. In return, the judges typically receive equity in the company.

Of course, there are always a selection of competitors with unoriginal ideas, poor business skill and a lack of commitment whose projects never come to fruition. Conversely, the show has showcased some truly innovative entrepreneurs whose products have made it to retail shelves.

According to In With The Sharks, about 85 percent of companies featured on the show are still in business. Notably, about 84 percent of the show's contestants owned businesses featuring physical, shippable products. Industry trends clearly dictate that, when it comes to Shark Tank propositions, tangible items sell better than conceptual services. 

Shark Tank's most successful ventures
While the winning products inevitably gain some traction among consumers due to their pop culture connection, just how successful are Shark Tank finalists once they leave the show? Let's take a look at some of the business ventures that have prospered post-competition.

Scrub Daddy
Scrub Daddy was created by contestant Aaron Krause, who got judge Lori Greiner to invest $200,000 in his idea in exchange for 20 percent equity. The product is a sponge that comes in a smiley face shape and is extremely durable. It's so strong that it can be used to clean things like cars and boats, but so gentle that it won't damage delicate valuables, explained The Huffington Post.

According to the source, Scrub Daddy was essentially a failing company when it made it to Shark Tank - it had only achieved $100,000 in sales in 18 months. After Krause brought the venture to the show, however, he was able to get it into stores like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. Since its appearance on Shark Tank's fourth season, Scrub Daddy has raked in over $18 million, making it the most successful investment the program has ever seen. Krause reportedly prepared for his television appearance by carefully watching each season of the show twice, a strategy he believes helped him get Greiner's support.

Brian and Julie Whiteman, a married business team with big goals, brought GrooveBook to Shark Tank during the show's fifth season. According to Investopedia, GrooveBook provides users with a physical book that contains high-resolution versions pictures they took on their smartphones. Users pay a low monthly subscription fee and get multiple books sent to them throughout the year. The venture attracted the attention of Mark Cuban and Kevin O'Leary, who invested a combined $150,000 in the project in exchange for 80 percent of the licensing profits, explained the source.

Once it appeared on the show, GrooveBook took off, gaining 50,000 new customers almost immediately after the concept was pitched to the judges. Photo sharing company Shutterfly, Inc. purchased the GrooveBook for $14.5 million in 2014.

Lollacup, a product designed by couple Hanna and Mark Lim, appeared on Shark Tank's third season and is still the show's most successful children's product to date. According to Business Insider, the Lollacup is an upgraded version of a traditional sippy cup. It's designed to totally prevent spills, and has a special straw that sucks up all the container's liquid, which eliminates waste. The Lollacup is also BPA-free, making it a healthy choice for little ones.

The source reported that Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec invested $100,000 in the Lims' venture, for which they received 40 percent equity. Since the Lollacup appeared on Shark Tank, it's made over $1 million in sales.

Chord Buddy
When Travis Perry noticed his daughter was having difficulty learning the guitar, the music teacher decided to create a gadget that would simplify the process. Perry's invention color-codes chords and can be attached to the neck of any guitar. The visual aid, which Perry dubbed "Chord Buddy," helped his daughter master the instrument in no time, so he decided to bring his idea to Shark Tank.

According to The Huffington Post, Robert Herjavec invested $175,000 in Perry's business in exchange for 20 percent equity. The company had earned $150,000 in its first month of business, but after the show's financial support and exposure it was able to rake in over $2 million. The source noted that it was even able to secure country music star John Rich as a spokesperson. 

Simple Sugars
During season four, then 18-year old Lani Lazzari presented her skincare company, Simple Sugars, on Shark Tank. Before going on the program, Lazzari's venture had made just $50,000, explained Business Insider. After getting $100,000 from Mark Cuban by offering 33 percent equity, however, Lazzari's sales immediately increased to $220,000. Six weeks after its television appearance, the company raked in its first million. 

The source reported that Simple Sugars can now be purchased in more than 700 stores all around the world. During 2014 alone the company made over $3 million. 

Cousins Maine Lobster 
This business proposition was one of the more straightforward ventures the Shark Tank team had seen, but also one of the best. Entrepreneurs and cousins Sabin Lomac and Jim Tselikis wanted to bring an authentic East Coast flavor to Los Angeles by starting a chain of food trucks that served traditional Maine lobster rolls. Their company, Cousins Maine Lobster, received $55,000 from Barbara Corcoran, who in turn received 15 percent equity. 

Business Insider reported that just after their episode of Shark Tank aired, the cousins saw sales reach $700,000. By the end of 2014 the duo had franchised the business with in the U.S. and raked in more than $3.5 million in sales. 

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