7 Of The Biggest ‘Shark Tank’ Success Stories
Audiences can’t get enough of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” now in its fifth season. Each episode, entrepreneurs pitch their business plans as the sharks circle the tank. If their idea catches the interest of one of the investors, they have the opportunity to see their sales soar. But if the business is a flop-in-waiting, or if the numbers don’t add up, they could see their hopes and dreams shatter in front of millions. Last year, Wall Street Insanity brought you 5 great rejects from the “Shark Tank.” Now, we bring you some of its biggest success stories:
Ava the Elephant
Entrepreneur Tiffany Krumins figured out a unique way to help the medicine go down – without a spoonful of sugar. In 2009 she brought her idea, Ava the Elephant, to the “Shark Tank” in hopes of obtaining a partner that could help get her company off the ground. She may not have had a patent or even a mold for her children’s medicine dropper, but it was too cute for investor Barbara Corcoran to pass up. Of course, always none too short on words, Kevin O’Leary snarked at the infant company: “It’s not a business, it’s an idea,” he told Krumins. Still, Corcoran saw the product’s potential and offered Krumins $50,000 for 55 percent of her company. And it paid off. Sales soared from just $100,000 in 2010 to $500,000 in 2011 – and 2013 sales were forecast for more than $1 million! Ava the Elephant is now sold in 10 countries and is available in more than 10,000 stores in the U.S. alone. Krumins and Corcoran has launched an extension of their company: a new Ava product that will monitor a child’s temperature.
Sharks were blown away in 2012 when Alabama entrepreneur Travis Perry showed up to the tank with Big & Rich’s very own John Rich to help pitch his product, a device that helps children – or any novice – learn to play guitar chords. Perry had devised the tool himself when he saw his son struggling to learn the instrument. Perry’s ingenuity impressed all the sharks and he walked away with an investment from Robert Herjavec — $175,000 for just 20 percent of his company. Although ChordBuddy sold an impressive $130,000 in 2010, the investment paid off and sales were nearly $2 million in 2012. The device is now sold at more than 200 retail outlets, and the company has even developed its own line of acoustic guitars.
What cat owner hasn’t, at some point in time, wished to see their furry friend climb up on the loo and use the toilet. No more messy litter boxes to clean and no more smell! Pennsylvania entrepreneur Rebecca Rescate felt the same way, and so she invented a device that helps to toilet train cats. She brought her invention to the “Shark Tank” in 2011, and watched Kevin Harrington and Barbara Corcoran bid against one another for the opportunity to invest. With an offer of $100,000 for 20 percent of her company, Kevin Harrington became her business partner. Rescate soon found the success for which she sought. Although Citikitty sold $100,000 in product when it launched in 2005, by 2011 revenue exceeded $1 million. She even pitched her product to consumers during appearances on “Late Night with David Letterman” and “The View.” Citikitty is now available in 1,000 stores, and the company has also added a line of cat and dog treats.
Back in 2011, mother-and-daughter team Kim Nelson and Geraldine Adams entered the “Shark Tank” in hopes of getting an investment for their specialty cakes. Even though Nelson later noted that all the male investors couldn’t stop eating the cakes, Barbara Corcoran was the shark who ultimately invested in the company. With a meager investment of $50,000, Corcoran bought 25 percent of the business, and it soon paid off! With just $88,000 in revenue in 2010, Daisy Cakes sold $602,000 just one year later. Nelson has even appeared on QVC to promote Daisy Cakes, as well as the “Nate Berkes Show,” “Anderson Cooper,” “ABC World News” and “The Today Show.”
Copa di Vino
Entrepreneur and vintner James Martin wanted to get his single-serve wine that comes in a glass to the world, and he has – thanks to his 2012 appearance on “Shark Tank.” Although the sharks didn’t bite during his first appearance in 2011, they must have had non-buyer’s remorse because Martin became the only entrepreneur to be invited to re-pitch his business when he appeared in the tank again one year later. As it turned out, however, Martin didn’t need the investment, although the publicity surely helped. He turned down investor offers during each appearance, but has since seen revenue skyrocket from a not-too-shabby $300,000 in 2010 to $12 million in 2012. Copa di Vino is now sold in 42 states, including locations such as MGM. Hotels and Wal-Mart.
The Painted Pretzel
It never hurts to feed the sharks! Entrepreneur Raven Thomas’ tasty assortment of pretzels impressed the investors in the tank. But thanks to a $100,000 investment from Mark Cuban – who got 25 percent of the business in return – sales increased by 366 percent in just two years. Not only is the Painted Pretzel available in hundreds of stores, but Cuban helped Thomas partner her brand with Landmark Theaters.
Florida-based entrepreneur Alashe Nelson introduced the sharks to his system of prepurchasing tickets and reservations for luxury events. At first, Mark Cuban wasn’t interested in investing. But when fellow shark Daymond John offered a marketing partnership with artist Pitbull in order to promote the service, Cuban changed his tune. The two sharks partnered to purchase 40 percent of EzVip.com for $150,000. EzVip.com later launched in Las Vegas and Miami, with plans to expand to Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta. Although revenue hasn’t been disclosed, its success has enabled it to expand services and offer access to high-end restaurants and travel accommodations.