“Shark Tank” is an ABC TV phenomenon in which angel investors, known as “sharks,” consider startup business ideas by aspiring entrepreneurs to see if they want to invest.
The sharks, who have included Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary, Robert Herjavec, Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner and others, offer millions of their own investor dollars to fund ideas they think can really fly. For every success, there are just as many failures, some more spectacular than others. In preparation of Shark Tank’s first live season premiere on Sept. 23, here are five of the biggest “Shark Tank” fails.
The Body Jac
It may seem impossible for new exercise equipment to excite big donors, but in season one, Jack Barringer, infomercial star and entrepreneur, was able to convince investors Barbara Corcoran and Kevin Harrington to invest $180,000 in his business. His device, “The Body Jac,” was supposed to make pushups easier, as well as improve other muscles. According to Shark Tank Tales, Jack was instructed to lose 30 pounds by his doctor but found certain exercises hard on his joints. Thus, his invention was born.
It’s unclear why the company did not succeed, according to Showbiz Cheat Sheet, but Corcoran told Forbes, “My worst [Shark Tank deal] was investing in a fast-talking cowboy selling exercise equipment who needed to lose 50 pounds.”
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The Breathometer sounded too good to be true, and maybe it was. Breathometer was a portable breathalyzer device that measured blood alcohol levels via a smartphone app, according to Failory. Its founder, Charles Michael Yim, raised $1 million in 2013 from Kevin O’Leary, Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Lori Greiner and Robert Herjavec, who got 30% equity. The fact that all five sharks were willing to go in on it seemed to bode well for the product. But the reality was not so smooth. The company could not fulfill all the orders placed, and the device did not deliver accurate results. The Federal Trade Commission ordered the company to refund all customers and remove the product from sale.
Mark Cuban referred to it as the “worst execution in the history of Shark Tank” and placed the blame back on founder Yim’s shoulders, claiming mismanagement of funds.
The company is still going, though it is advertising a new product that can measure biomarkers of bad breath and gum disease, partnering with the oral hygiene department at Philips.
Everyone loves cake, even investors. Founders of Sweet Ballz, a cake ball company, James McDonald and Cole Egger, must have done something right, as they got $250,000 from Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran in exchange for 25% of their sweets company. At one point the cake company had earned $700,000 in cake ball sales from 7-11 Franchises alone, according to Shark Tank Success.
That sweet success didn’t last, however. McDonald wound up suing Egger for breach of contract, after he started a competing company called CakeBallz. At one point, McDonald even asked for a restraining order. The company still exists, but the founders’ partnership does not.
Show No Towels
In 2012, Shelly Ehler appeared on the show with her product for small children who might need to change in public places, such as at a swimming pool, according to The Inquisitr. She called her towel/poncho crossover “Show No Towels.” Ehler won over several sharks but chose to partner with Lori Greiner, who gave her $50,000 on the spot, the first time in the show’s history at that point a contestant had received money on demand.
They worked together for a year before the company went bust. According to Inc.com, “things just didn’t go the way she expected them to, or the way they were presented on TV.”
What seemed like an excellent idea, Toygaroo, a company that dubbed itself the “Netflix of toys” as it allowed people to rent toys every month, was so compelling it got Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary to invest $200,000 for 35% control of the company in 2011.
Whether due to inexperience, mismanagement, growing too fast or a combination of all three, Toygaroo filed for Chapter 7 in April 2012, just one year after getting the investment. The company closed for good in 2016.
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