On ABC’s reality show “Shark Tank,” entrepreneur contestants pitch their ideas, hoping to get funding from a panel of high-brow investors including Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John and Kevin O’Leary.
An episode last month made “Shark Tank” history with a $2.5 million deal — the biggest yet on the show. Throughout six seasons, other budding businesses have gotten large amounts of funding from the investor sharks, but the deals don’t always pan out. We checked back in on nine companies with some of the biggest deals to see how they’ve fared since the cameras stopped rolling.
1. Zipz Wine: $2.5 million for 10% stake
Zipz Wine packages single servings of wine in strong, plastic glasses with reclosable lids. On this precedent-setting episode, O’Leary agreed to loan the company $2.5 million on the premise that Zipz would be able to launch the product in Costco. The episode aired in early December, so it’s still too soon to tell how the deal will affect the business.
2. Ten Thirty One Productions: $2 million for 20% stake
Ten Thirty One Productions, an event company known for its Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, got $2 million in funding from Cuban during the show’s fifth season. The business has “exploded” since the show, surpassing $2 million in revenue, the company’s president, Melissa Carbone, told ABC in a follow-up interview. The cast and crew have tripled to almost 1,000, and the production company hosts four different scary events in Los Angeles and New York. The latest event, the Great Horror Campout, is a horrific overnight scavenger hunt.
3. Rugged Events: $1.75 million for 25% stake
Cuban invested in the company that hosts the Rugged Maniac Obstacle Race, a muddy 5-kilometer event, during season five. In 20 cities nationwide, the race has 25 obstacles, including a 50-foot water slide, fire pit jump and mud crawls. Since the episode aired, Rugged Events has increased revenue by $1 million, improved the obstacles to keep up with competitors, and is expanding to Mexico and Canada in 2015, says Rob Dickens, chief operating officer of Rugged Events.
4. Hy-Conn: $1.25 million for 100% stake
Cuban made a deal with Hy-Conn LLC, a company that makes efficient connectors for fire hoses and hydrants, during a season two episode. But after the cameras were turned off, the deal fell through, founder Jeff Stroope says. Since then, Hy-Conn has grown to a $5 million company with markets in the United States, Canada and Costa Rica. The company is seriously considering selling to an interested buyer in Houston that has plans to expand Hy-Conn globally with increased production and marketing, Stroope says.
5. Red Dress Boutique: $1.2 million for 20% stake
In this season six episode, Cuban and Herjavec jointly agreed to fund Red Dress Boutique, a colorful clothing store based in Athens, Georgia. Only Cuban’s end of the deal held up, and the shop got just $600,000, with Cuban taking 15%, says Suzanne Rutledge, a spokeswoman for the company. This money will go toward updating the store’s website, which drives 90% of sales. In the first week after the episode aired, the boutique received $1 million in sales.
6. How Do You Roll?: $1 million for 20% stake
Although How Do You Roll?, a chain of fast-casual, choose-your-own-sushi restaurants, made a $1 million deal with O’Leary on air in season four, the loan fell through after filming. But even without the shark’s money, the company is going strong, with locations in Texas, Arizona, Florida and Arkansas. Two more restaurants are scheduled to open in Chicago and Los Angeles in early 2015, says Dawn Psaromatis, a spokeswoman for the company.
7. Breathometer: $1 million for 30% stake
Five sharks — Cuban, O’Leary, John, Herjavec and Greiner — invested in this portable breathalyzer that plugs in to the headphone jack of a smartphone. A year after the episode aired in season five, Breathometer hit nearly $10 million in sales, founder Charles Yim told ABC in a follow-up interview. It’s now available in stores including Best Buy and Brookstone, and is expanding to international markets. In October 2014, the company introduced Breathometer Breeze, which relies on Bluetooth instead of the jack connection and connects to Uber to call a ride home for drunken users.
8. BeatBox Beverages: $1 million for 33% stake
The founders of this Texas-based company walked away from their “Shark Tank” appearance with $1 million from Cuban to fund their business selling wine in neon-colored boxes. Since the episode aired in season six, BeatBox Beverages has seen both online and distribution sales skyrocket and has grown its retail presence in grocery and liquor stores across the state. Even Walmart has expressed interest in selling the boom-box-shaped wine packages, says Justin Fenchel, BeatBox Beverages’ chief executive officer.
9. First Defense Nasal Screens: $750,000 for 30% stake
First Defense Nasal Screens, adhesives that block germs and allergens from entering the nose, drew the sharks’ attention during season two, when Herjavec offered $4 million for the entire company. Joe Moore, the company’s president, turned down that offer, opting for a more modest loan from Cuban, O’Leary and John. However, after filming the episode, Moore decided not to go through with the deal. The company has since grown without any investments, and the product is distributed in 30 countries including China and Saudi Arabia. A firm in China is interested in taking the company public, Moore says.
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