Wanna see the worst possible Shark Tank failures?
If you like variety shows and reality shows, chances are you’ve seen Shark Tank at some point. The premise of this program is simple: help new entrepreneurs find financing for their projects. For this, a panel of successful entrepreneurs (Sharks) reviews the proposals and offers them money in exchange for something.
If the entrepreneur and the Shark agree with what has been offered, an almost always fruitful partnership begins. However, it should be noted that not all the deals have reached good conclusions.
In this article, you will see the worst Shark tank failures that aired. If you want to start your business, you probably want to learn what not to do from the following list.
Appearing on the show is a double-edged sword. While there are many success stories where businesses benefit from budget or fame, sometimes the opposite occurs. There are businesses that simply going to the Shark tank has bankrupted them. The publicity generated by the program has resulted in companies not being able to outlive new customers.
A justified success
The line between success and failure is very thin, and the dramas that occur in the show are very striking. For this reason, the program has even been adapted to different countries such as Brazil, Colombia, or Mexico. And even the original show has managed to reach its tenth season.
However, beyond entertainment, the program has a high educational value for entrepreneurs. Knowing which ideas work and which ones don’t show how difficult it is to start a business. Not all people are made to succeed in the market for different reasons. So you can see how complex this process is, below, you will see some of the worst results of the program.
Shark tank failures you wish to avoid
We started the list with an idea that was wonderful in the program, but that after being financed brought many problems. Breathometer allowed anyone to check their blood alcohol level with the use of a portable device and a Smartphone.
This proposal, on paper, sounded spectacular. So much so that sharks Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Mark Cuban, and Kevin O’Leary offered $1 million each. Charles Michael Yim, the founder of Breathometer, only had to give up 30% of the shares of the business.
Everything started to fall apart when the product turned out to be defective. Many customers reported that the results returned by the Breathometer were not correct. In the worst case, the value they indicated was much lower than the real one.
This posed an immense risk to people using the device hoping to be able to drive without alcohol problems. As a result, all units were recalled and the money was returned to buyers.
Cuban said this had been one of the worst Shark Tank failures. He even proceeded to blame Yim for embezzlement. But despite the business failure that Breathometer was, the company did not go bankrupt. In fact, it is currently still working, but with other products. They have completely moved away from alcohol levels.
Baking is a very lucrative business. Sweet Ballz sought to revolutionize the way cakes are shipped and produced. The idea was so good that they even had the support of Mark Cuban.
However, the two original partners had problems with each other. These were so serious that they were taken to court, where a judge issued a restraining order. The outcome of the story is not so bitter; while they did not achieve the goals they wanted when the episode aired, they did not go bankrupt. US residents can still order these cake balls from their website.
Coffee Meets Bagel
The Coffee Meets Bagel story is not as negative as one would expect from a failure on the show. In fact, it is one of the proposals that came out more profitable when the show ended.
Sisters Dawoon, Soo, and Arum Kang created a dating app capable of matching two people using Facebook friendships as a reference. The app gets a match daily. If both parties accept the proposal, it also gives them a discount coupon for the appointment.
The project began in 2012 in New York City, but it wasn’t until 2015 that the sisters turned to Shark Tank. Far from having financial problems, they sought support to grow as a company. Not only did they succeed, but they exceeded all expectations.
For the project, the sisters only asked for $500,000 and offered 5% of the company. Nonetheless, Mark Cuban saw the potential of the idea and offered $30 million for the entire company. The sisters did not reach an agreement and simply withdrew from the show.
Today, Coffee Meets Bagel is still operational and in its prime. The application has managed to generate 23.2 million dollars and has more than 10 million active users.
Chef Big Shake
This is another Shark Tank failure that occurs due to the success of the proposal. In 2011, Shawn Davis turned to Shark Tank to fund a game-changing proposition: a seafood burger. The idea came from his daughter’s interest in vegetarianism, and he didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to venture into this market.
Davis came to the show with a reasonable proposal: $200,000 for 25% of the company. However, because vegetarianism was not as widespread in 2011, the sharks rejected the offer. According to them, it was a very risky investment because it was about food.
After the episode aired, investors from outside the show approached Davis and offered him $500,000. This injection of capital resulted in an extremely successful franchise. According to financial reports, Davis’s company went from generating $30,000 annually to more than $5 million. They even expanded the menu with new seafood-based items. Mark Cuban admitted that it was a mistake not to invest in the idea.
Many of the causes of the worst Shark Tank failures are kept anonymous. This was the case with Body Jac, a product that, despite working, did not prosper in the market.
Few entrepreneurs are willing to demonstrate as strongly that their product serves as Cactus Jack Barringer did. Body Jac was an exercise machine that made work easier for non-athletic people. Barbara Corcoran asked Barringer to prove the functionality of the product before doing the deal.
Barringer complied with losing 30 pounds and finally received the 180 thousand dollars he was asking for 50% of the company. However, due to unspoken causes, the business did not prosper. The product was discontinued almost as quickly as it hit the market in 2012. Barbara Corcoran says it was the worst deal she has ever made.
The case of Smell Soap is at least curious. Megan Cummins wanted to create a luxury soap brand, which is why she enlisted the help of Shark Tank. According to what was seen in the program, the deal flowed normally. Robert Herajvec offered $55,000 and demanded a salary of $50,000 in exchange for 30% of the company. Cummins had no problems and accepted the proposal.
For whatever reason, Herjavec did not contact Cummins for the next 6 months. When they finally returned to communicate, Herjavec changed their deal and offered $50,000 for 50% of the company.
Megan, disagreeing with the way the deal was playing out and the change in the offer, turned it down. A short time later, she found another investor, although she had already lost enough time. This investor even acquired the entirety of You Smell Soap, but the move did not turn out well for him, since a short time later he went bankrupt.
Wired Waffles reaches the podium of the worst Shark Tank failures for having everything wrong from its conception. The idea, simple in execution, did not turn out so good once realized. These were basically caffeinated waffles to speed up breakfasts. People wouldn’t have to waste time making coffee this way.
Making coffee or waffles really doesn’t take that long, and whoever can’t make one of them probably can’t make either. But this was not among the many problems that entrepreneurs got with the idea.
Wired Waffles had the appearance of an ordinary Waffle, so children could confuse and ingest them. Also, there was no way to protect the intellectuality of the project, since you cannot patent adding a component to a meal. Additionally, the combination of the waffle with the coffee did not taste good, which did not motivate customers at all.
The last problem they had with the idea was that, before going on the show, Wired Waffles had sold almost nothing. All these reasons kept entrepreneurs from even making offers. And they were right since a short time later Wired Waffled closed its doors.
CATEapp is a sign that not all applications for Smartphones reach the audience they need to succeed. Even with the rise of messaging services, the CATEapp proposal did not find its place among users.
Basically, the application allowed to hide messages from certain contacts so that they were only visible to the owner of the phone. The founder of the idea, Neal Desai, tried to sell the proposal to a market far from the disreputable cheating partners. To do this, he resorted to advertising it as a useful application for police and government officials.
The idea didn’t seem so bad. In fact, during Shark Tank, Daymond John and Kevin O’Leary offered $7,000 for 35% of the company. Despite this, in 2013 the application stopped circulating.
The series of bad practices, results, and deal changes with ShowNo Towels is worthy of study. Not only is it one of the worst Shark Tank failures, but it is also a general failure as a business.
The fall of this idea was resounding. ShowNo Towels is a towel made to look like a poncho. It even had a central hole to put your head in and tuck yourself in. In this way, using it was an easy process and you could dry your entire body at once.
Shelly Ehler, the founder of the business, received a proposal from businesswoman Lori Greiner. Originally, she was offering the money for only 25% of the business. However, Greiner drastically changed plans. She first instructed Ehler not to cash the check the next day after receiving it. Subsequently, she asked Ehler to reconsider the offer, asking for 70% of the company. Ehler obviously rejected this abrupt change, and as result, Greiner limited the money for the deal.
In addition to what happened with Greiner, ShowNo Towels had to meet a sales goal to close a deal with Disney. The company failed to get what it needed, and Disney withdrew its offer. The same happened with another investor (Franco Manufacturing ). This series of failures resulted in a cessation of the company’s activities.
Ehler, however, did not give up on the towels. After resolving a couple of issues, and three years after the closure of the company, she took over the reins of ShowNo Towels. This time, it targeted people with disabilities, a market in which it has done better. However, Greiner chose not to participate in this reboot.
The problem with bird feeders is that they don’t just attract birds. No matter how many times you stuff them, the food is likely to be eaten by squirrels before your feathered friends. It is from this problem that Squirrel Boss is born.
It is a simple solution to a simple problem. To prevent squirrels and other unwanted animals from eating the bird’s food, simply give them an electric shock to drive them away. It is basically an electric fence for animals. And it also acts as an electric fence: it does not differentiate its target.
Squirrel Boss also shocks birds. The way to prevent this from happening is using a switch that forces the owner to be constantly watching when to activate it. It is definitely a small design flaw that can not go unnoticed. This, in addition to the fact that the product was very expensive, motivated no shark to offer a deal.
Product rental services have always been around. With the arrival of Netflix and the like, these became popular on and off the internet again. ToyGaroo wanted to do the same but in the toy market. The company would offer a selection of toys to use each month so that children could use something new all the time.
The sharks agreed that it was an excellent idea. No child uses the same toy for long, so the rental service could be a solution for parents.
Kevin O’Leary and Cuban offered $200,000 for 35% of the company. However, the execution appears to have been disastrous as, in 2016, the company declared bankruptcy. According to reports and interviews given by O’Leary and Cuban, failure originated from success. The owners of the company did not know how to handle the growth in demand for the service and had to cancel it.
The NoPhone idea is so absurd it seems like a bad joke on television. The creators of the proposal designed a piece of wood that resembles a Smartphone, and they hoped to mass-produce and sell it.
The reason for said idea? Supposedly, with this, they wanted to make people spend less time with their smartphones. By holding a product that simulated one’s size and shape, people would quench their anxiety about using a phone. It’s like an anti-stress toy, only it’s anti-smartphones.
Needless to say, no shark even thought of offering something. They even asked how it was possible that the production chose them to participate in the show.
Probably all of us have lost a sock at some point. It is a common problem, but it usually does not occur consistently.
However, the creators of Throx thought it would be a good idea to try to solve this problem. Their solution? Sell packs with 3 socks instead of 2. It is a kind of spare or reserve sock.
Again, the Shark Tank entrepreneurs found many flaws in this plan. The first is that no one really loses so many socks that they need a replacement for each pair. And the second is that the replacement sock would only take up shelf space as long as you don’t need it.
There cannot be gender equality if there are still products that are exclusively for men or women. One of them, apparently, are candles. Original Man Candle creator Johnson Bailey thought that using scented candles is very feminine. For this reason, he created scented candles especially geared toward men.
What could go wrong? Of course, it would not be among the worst Shark Tank failures if the choice of scents were better. Bailey associated masculinity with smells like “beer“, “barbecue“, or “flatulence“. An unfortunate choice that alienated all investors from the idea.
Business shouldn’t mix with feelings. This was the problem for Hy-Conn, a company that, despite everything, continues to be successful.
Hy-Conn created a garden hose and hydrant connector that is quick and easy to use. It’s an exceptional idea, even for the fire department. For this reason, Mark Cuban bet big by offering $1.25 million on the company.
However, it appears that midway through the journey, founder Jeff Stroope had a dispute with Cuban. In what looked like a tantrum, Stroope posted on Facebook that the investor’s ego affected the deal. The problem reportedly arose due to the licensing of the connector design. However, despite being one of the worst Shark Tank failures, the company continues to operate.
The sports shoe market is vast, but the competition is fierce. Maybe this was what prompted Doug and Renata Store to turn to Shark Tank. They were looking to inject some capital into their product, which consisted of sneakers with rechargeable LED lights. And they succeeded since Herjavec offered $250,000 for 15% of the company.
To end the list, we end with a unique outcome. The change in plans didn’t happen because of a shark, but because of the brand’s founders. Renata and Doug felt after the show that they didn’t need the money or the partnership. They just turned down the offer and went on with their product. It was not so bad for them, since in 2015 they sold their website, which had generated 1.5 million dollars.
FAQ about the Shark Tank failures
What percentage of businesses that appear on Shark Tank fail?
Some estimate state that after appearing on Shark Tank, around 60% of startups fail. The actual success percentage may differ based on the data source and the standards used to define “failure” because this is not an official statistic.
What are some of the biggest Shark Tank failures?
The Ionic Ear, a device that purported to let users hear through their teeth, the UroClub, a false golf club that doubled as a portable toilet, and Throx, socks that came in threes rather than pairs, are some of the biggest Shark Tank flops.
Due to a number of circumstances, such as weak sales and a lack of demand, these goods were generally regarded as failures.
What are some common reasons why businesses fail after appearing on Shark Tank?
Lack of planning, poor execution, overvaluation of the company, and a lack of market demand are a few common causes for firms to fail after appearing on Shark Tank. However, despite getting funding, some organizations may find it difficult to scale their operations or efficiently manage their finances.
Have any successful businesses on Shark Tank failed after receiving an investment?
Undoubtedly, some Shark Tank-famous companies have failed after obtaining funding. For instance, the popular sock company Foot Cardigan which made an appearance on the program subsequently went out of business as a result of a number of issues, such as trouble managing cash flow and a decline in customer demand.
What lessons can be learned from Shark Tank failures?
Failures on Shark Tank can teach us the value of careful planning, realistic valuation, and effective business plan execution, among other things.
Furthermore, it’s critical to comprehend consumer demand for a product and to have a well-thought-out plan in place for expanding operations and handling funds.
How do Shark Tank failures affect the show’s reputation?
Failures on Shark Tank can be discouraging for entrepreneurs and viewers, but they do not always speak to the value or productivity of the program as a whole.
In fact, the show’s emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship has aided in the expansion of numerous prosperous firms.
Do businesses that fail on Shark Tank receive any support or assistance after the show?
Businesses that don’t succeed on Shark Tank might not get any help or support directly from the program’s creators or the sharks, but they can still be able to gain from the visibility and notoriety that come with being on the show.
They might also be able to apply the knowledge they gained from working on the program to increase their chances of success in the future.
Are there any legal issues that arise when a business fails after appearing on Shark Tank?
When a company fails after making an appearance on Shark Tank, there can be legal repercussions, especially if investors believe they were tricked or deceived in any way.
Such problems, though very uncommon, are normally handled by talks or legal action.
What role do the Sharks play in the success or failure of the businesses they invest in?
As they offer to fund, mentoring, and networking opportunities to the entrepreneurs they support, the Sharks can have a big impact on the success or failure of the enterprises they invest in.
The ultimate success or failure of a business, however, depends on a variety of variables, including market demand, rivalry, and the successful implementation of a business strategy.
Have any businesses that failed on Shark Tank gone on to succeed without the Sharks’ investment?
True, some companies that were rejected by the sharks on Shark Tank later found success. For instance, Scrub Daddy, a product that didn’t receive funding on the show, went on to achieve enormous success in the years that followed, with millions of dollars in sales and distribution in well-known stores.
The success of Scrub Daddy proves that exposure from the show can still enhance brand recognition and customer demand even if a company does not receive funding from the Sharks.
Entrepreneurs can also find areas for development and eventually boost their chances of success by using the Sharks’ feedback and criticism.
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