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Entrepreneurship

Shark Tank Ideas That Never Should’ve Been Funded

TristaNovember 7, 2019

Shark Tank is a business reality show broadcast on ABC. It’s an exciting program to watch, as it involves real business deals being pitched to a panel of seasoned entrepreneurs. These investors take a chance on unique inventions and startup companies and put their own money on the line. Many companies have gone from being started in someone’s garage to a household name in a short time. It’s great to see how Shark Tank can help so many people launch their brands.

When it comes to Shark Tank, there will be some inevitable misses along with the hits. Some pitches are so bad that it’s shocking the company made it onto the show in the first place. Sometimes the Sharks decide to invest in a product that seems excellent. However, after the show, it ultimately fizzles. There are quite a few Shark Tank products that should have never received funding. Many of these ended up causing the Sharks to lose money. Read on to learn all about the ideas from Shark Tank that should have never been funded.

A set of golf clubs. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

UroClub 

The inventor of the UroClub felt that there was a potential need for a product. It would appeal to both men who golf and frequently need to go to the bathroom. He invented a golf club with a receptacle attached that allows men to urinate in the golf club while on the golf course. It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to use a product like this, although it does have some potential value for disabled golfers who have bladder or urinary system issues. However, it’s worth asking if people with those types of disabilities often golf, and if they do, do they have other accommodations like catheters?

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However, somehow, the UroClub was funded for $25,000 in exchange for a 75 percent stake in the company. The Sharks figured the UroClub would do well as an infomercial product. Unfortunately, this product hasn’t taken off much. It seems like the concept is just too off-putting for most people. While it still could have value for disabled golfers who deal with urinary system issues, that is likely a small market. It would be ethical to keep the product as cheap as possible to help those people thrive. So, it’s unlikely it will ever be an incredibly lucrative venture, however convenient the product may be.

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I Want to Draw a Cat for You 

Who doesn’t like cats? That’s what the creator of ‘I Want to Draw a Cat for You’d figured. He pitched his business to the Sharks, and it involved people going to his website and giving him a type of cat and a scene to draw. For $10, he would sketch their picture and mail it to them. Artists are always being forced to look for new ways to generate revenue since we live in an era where patronage of the arts is very low, and artists need to sell finished products to survive directly. Many websites exist to try to allow artists to sell art directly.

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The concept of having a specific pay-to-order cat portrait is unique but doesn’t seem like a lucrative idea. How many people would be willing to pay for a basic cat drawing? Shark Mark Cuban decided to invest some money in I Want to Draw a Cat for You. Compared to other deals he’s made on the show, this business is just not strong. Also, the company doesn’t work out in favor of the artist. Even if he has similar skills to a boardwalk caricature artist, $10 is still incredibly low for even a small original drawing from a talented artist. There’s no way he can ever gain a large profit unless he outsources the work to other artists.

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The Sub Safe 

For those who eat many sub sandwiches and store them in coolers, the Sub Safe is intended to be your ideal contraption. This product is a small plastic container that protects sub sandwiches from getting soggy when they’re stored in a cooler. Instead of putting a sandwich in a plastic bag or regular Tupperware container, you would use the Sub Safe. Anyone who has ever tried to eat a soggy sandwich can undoubtedly see the value of this product as there are few worse sensory experiences than wet, soggy bread. Soggy bread truly makes a sandwich borderline inedible.

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Unfortunately for the creators, most people aren’t interested in buying products that only have one use. Also, one small Sub Safe costs $18. That’s a lot to spend on a small chunk of plastic. Somehow, the product was funded on Shark Tank, however, and is still in business. The plastic food saver market is already quite large and full of useful items like washable Ziploc-style bags that could keep a sandwich in good shape and still be helpful for other things. As with many of the kitchen items on this list, single-purpose entities will always struggle since they take up space with minimum utility.

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Hy-Conn 

Hy-Conn was pitched on Shark Tank as a tool to help firefighters do their job more efficiently. The device attaches to fire hoses and cuts the time it takes to connect to a fire hydrant. With this product, firefighters can save time and save lives much faster. While this product is a great idea, it’s an absolute shame to try to profit off of a life-saving feature that could instead be made public property and opened to improvements from others and even 3D printed to be donated to local fire departments. Cashing in on potentially life-saving devices is always a bad deal.

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The reason Hy-Conn should not have been funded isn’t necessarily that the product is terrible. Shark Mark Cuban invested in Hy-Conn and was excited about the company. After the show, negotiations fell apart, and the founder of Hy-Conn blamed it on Cuban and his colossal ego. Things got too messy between Cuban and the maker of Hy-Conn. Hopefully, the inventor will eventually see that his creation would do more good released to the public. It can be instituted everywhere to save lives rather than just enriching him personally at the cost of limited taxpayer dollars allotted to fire departments.

A couple dressed like hillbillies. Photo Credit: Pixabay

HillBilly Clothing

HillBilly Clothing was a clothing brand pitched on Shark Tank. Coincidentally, this pitch was on the same episode that featured guest Shark, Jeff Foxworthy. This line of clothing designed for outdoorsy men and women appealed to Foxworthy. He partnered with Sharks Daymond John and Robert Herjavec to invest $75,000 for a 100 percent stake in the company and a 7 percent royalties. Foxworthy no doubt sees the value in a line appealing to hillbillies since his entire brand of humor centered around “redneck” jokes and blue-collar, working-class white humor. His “you might be a redneck” jokes defined a whole genre.

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After the show, the deal fell apart when all parties involved couldn’t agree. It seems that the owners of HillBilly Clothing were unwilling to part with all of the business. They also had significant creative differences with the Sharks. The brand is still available but hasn’t grown as much as they thought it would. With the explosion of many small screen printing and Cricut shirt-making businesses, it’s possible to find extensive hillbilly clothing and even design your own without dealing with a custom hillbilly brand. One need only check the Facebook marketplace to find countless hillbilly-type shirt options.

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Cat Wine by Apollo Peak 

One of the weirdest products to be pitched on Shark Tank is Cat Wine by Apollo Peak. This line of feline-friendly wine is made from beetroot juice and catnip. The creator wanted to make a safe wine for his cat to drink with him while he relaxed with a glass of regular wine. While it may seem ludicrous, cat people tend to spend outrageous amounts of money spoiling their feline companions. It is reasonable to assume a fair few cat people are also dedicated wine people. If dogs can enjoy a Pup Cup of ice cream at Dairy Queen, why can’t cats enjoy a nice cat wine?

Photo Credit: Apollo Peak

However, ultimately, the question had to be answered of whether the market needs a line of cat wine. It’s hard to see this being a long-running business once the initial novelty and humor value wears off. The Sharks felt differently because a deal was made. While we still don’t see cat wine becoming the next big trend in pet products, the company is still running. One interesting avenue of growth would be customizable cat wines. They have herbal supplements for anxiety, hairballs, and other medical issues common to cats. It makes them a fun and tasty way to get cats to take the supplements they would take anyway.

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ToyGaroo 

At one point in time, subscription services were a hot ticket. So many companies wanted to become the Netflix of whatever field they were in. One of those companies was Toygaroo, which aimed to become the Netflix of toys. With the short attention span and rapidly changing interests of children, the idea is great in theory. Instead of spending a ton of money on a toy only for a child to lose interest in a few weeks, why not simply rent it and exchange it for something new when the child inevitably becomes bored. It could save families a lot of money on toys that aren’t favorites in the long run.

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Toygaroo was a service that let customers rent toys for their kids. When their kids got bored with the toys, they could exchange them for new ones. The Sharks seemed into the idea, and both Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary invested in the company. Nevertheless, Toygaroo was dead in the water and ended up filing for bankruptcy. Cuban calls it the investment he regrets the most. In retrospect, the idea of exchanging used toys between a ton of children in the age of Covid is pretty gross. One wonders if they had good plans for sanitizing the toys between use given how messy and germy children can be.

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CATEapp 

CATEapp was created by a police officer who was inspired after one of his coworkers was caught cheating on his wife when she discovered his lewd text messages. The app was intended to keep secret phone numbers, emails, and text messages all hidden. The creator claimed it wasn’t specifically an app for cheaters, even though the word mistress was used in marketing. While it’s an interesting idea, it’s also quite disturbing to have a police officer marketing an app for keeping information private and secret and from your spouse. It seems like his detective skills should be put to far better and more wholesome use than that.

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The Sharks saw some value in the app, and a deal was made with CATEapp. Oddly, they thought an app for committing adultery would be a wise investment. However, it looks like it wasn’t since the app was removed from all App Stores not long after the show aired. Unsurprisingly, app regulators weren’t impressed with the idea of an app entirely meant to keep specific data hidden from phone users. One has to imagine the connection to a police officer, who is supposed to be honest, and an upholder of decency, gave a distinctly pessimistic tone to the app as well.

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Gayla Bentley Fashion 

Gayla Bentley appeared on Shark Tank to pitch her clothing business. She made high fashion clothing for women oversize 12. That is a great concept that is needed in the fashion industry. It is challenging to find any nice clothing oversize 12, especially clothing that incorporates the newest high fashion trends. While some clothing is available in plus sizes, it tends always to be frumpy, old-fashioned clothing made of stretchy, low-quality materials. It can be very hard to look professional and fashionable as a larger woman today due to the lack of quality clothing in larger sizes.

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She got a deal on Shark Tank and walked away with $250,000. After the show, she virtually disappeared, however. Her website became defunct, and she never produced any clothing. It seems like she got the check from her investors and took off. Not an excellent investment at all. It’s a shame because the fashion industry could use more designers making clothing in extended sizes. Who knows if we’ll ever hear from Bentley again. While there are clothing stores like Torrid that cater to large women, there simply aren’t enough options, and their clothing is quite a high cost and skews very feminine.

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Cactus Jack  

Cactus Jack appeared on Shark Tank to promote his exercise contraption called The Body Jac. It was a device that helped people do push-ups by taking the pressure off the arms and shoulders. The Sharks were somewhat interested in the product, but there was one concern. Cactus Jack was not in shape. They told him that it would be hard to sell an exercise product if the face of the company was overweight. While it does seem like there could be an exciting market niche for regular people with standard body types selling exercise equipment, it perhaps does boil down to the same idea as not trusting a skinny chef.

Shark Barbara Corcoran. Photo Credit: Medium

Shark Barbara Corcoran offered Cactus Jack a deal if he lost 30 pounds. He took it and ended up losing the weight but The Body Jac never took off and his business shuttered. Exercise gadgets, much like kitchen gadgets, are tough to justify for most people, especially if they’re single-use. Our homes tend to get so cluttered from single-use, infrequently used items that people are incredibly reluctant to shell out more cash for similar new items. That goes double for ones that don’t have a problem track-record of success, which most exercise equipment does not. It’s also a market that is incredibly oversaturated with gimmicky exercise aids.

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Sweet Ballz 

Cake pops are delicious and quite trendy right now. A company called Sweet Ballz wanted to enter the cake pop business and make a fortune. They pitched their tasty cake pops without the sticks on Shark Tank, hoping to make a deal. While cake pops are delicious, they seem like a trend that could likely fizzle out at any time, much like the cronut or cupcake tower wedding cake. It’s risky to do an entire business around a sweet treat that doesn’t necessarily have the longevity of, say, the donut or fruit pies. The name is also slightly unfortunate and harkens back to SNL’s Schweddy Balls.

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The duo who started Sweet Ballz received a $250,000 investment from Sharks Marc Cuban and Barbara Corcoran for a 25% equity stake. In a dramatic turn of events, one of the founders sued the other for breach of contract. He even redirected the Sweet Ballz website to a new site where he sold cake pops. It’s no surprise this company did not flourish thanks to the internal instability. A business cannot thrive if there is financial and managerial strife between the co-owners. Amazingly, they made it to Shark Tank with those kinds of underlying issues.

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Qubits 

Qubits are toys created by an architect to resemble the tools used by people who draft buildings. The creator claims that all kids love to play with his blocks. However, the Sharks aren’t too sure about that. Most of them think breaking into the toy industry with this kind of product is a bad decision. The toy market is quite literally inundated with various types of wooden blocks right now since they’ve seen a massive resurgence in popularity over the last decade, with parents seeking more traditional, old-fashioned types of creative toys. From Lincoln Logs to Knex, building toys are plentiful.

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In the end, Shark Daymond John still made a deal with Qubits for $90,000 for a 51 percent stake in the company. The offer was only valid if they call one of the four leading toy companies and make a deal to distribute Qubits with them. It seems that Qubits are still for sale but haven’t entirely made their mark on the toy industry. A new play block has to have something truly unique and special to offer to make any dent in such a competitive industry, with baby items and toys both being full of countless fun options.

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You Smell Soap 

You Smell Soap started on Shark Tank with a disadvantage because the company hadn’t been established yet. No sales had been made, and the only thing the founder had to show for it was an inventory of handmade soap bars. A bidding war ensued on the show, and Robert Herjavec ended up making a deal for $55,000 for a 20 percent stake in the company, and he would also pay the founder a yearly salary of $50,000. Handmade soaps are relatively abundant at farmer’s markets and online, so it wasn’t clear what new niche in the market the company would fill.

Photo Credit: Amazon

Behind the scenes, the deal fell apart rapidly. Herjavec changed his mind after doing some due diligence on the company and turned the offer to $50,000 for a 50 percent stake in You Smell Soap. The deal fell, and the company ended up being sold to another investor. As of 2014, You Smell Soap was out of business. Artisanal soap is a tough market to break into since anyone can make soap in their own kitchen with relatively inexpensive materials. New soaps on the market need to be made of interesting or organic ingredients to have any chance of drawing attention in an oversaturated market.

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ShowNo Towels 

ShowNo Towels were towels for kids with a slit in the center so a child could wear them like a poncho. It made changing out of swimsuits more discreet and worked for drying off at the beach. The Sharks weren’t too interested until they learned the owner was close to making a deal with Disney amusement parks. Anyone who’s ever waited in line for what feels like an eternity for a changing stall at a public park or water park can likely appreciate how useful this towel could be for being able to change quickly and get started on the fun.

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In the end, Shark Lori Greiner made a deal with ShowNo Towels for $75,000 for a 25 percent stake in the business. After the episode, the deal with Disney fell through, but several water parks carried the product. It seems like Greiner wasn’t too hands-on with ShowNo Towels and didn’t put much effort into helping it grow. However, the idea of a towel poncho for safe and easy outdoor swimsuit changing is a great one for kids and teens alike. As long as water parks continue to be popular, it seems like there could be a steady market for the ShowNo towel.

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Night Runner 

Night Runner appeared on Shark Tank to revolutionize the way people run. They were headlights designed to attach to a runner’s sneakers so they could see where they were running in the dark. They were also water-resistant so that people could wear them during rainy weather conditions and on uneven terrain. The idea promised a great deal of safety and utility for runners, tripping at night a common concern for walkers and runners alike. Even dog walkers could use the lights to see obstacles or items their dog may try to pick up in the dark. At a reasonable price, they could be quite popular.

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In the end, Night Runner made a deal with Shark Robert Herjavec, but the deal was short-lived. The team behind Night Runner got funding from another investor and filled up their inventory, so they had enough to sell after the episode aired. Their website ended up crashing almost immediately. Reviews for Night Runner aren’t great, with many people saying they aren’t bright enough, fall off too quickly, and are too noticeable when running. However, they are still a fantastic idea for safety, especially in places where it gets dark early in the winter or in areas with snakes and other hazards that could be spotted and even driven away by lights.

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Breathometer 

On paper, Breathometer seems like a good idea. It’s a small device that you can keep on hand to check your blood alcohol level after you’ve been drinking to see if it’s safe to drive. It was designed to attach to a smartphone and work with an app. If people can be trusted to be responsible, the Breathometer is an excellent idea with the promise to let people know if they’re too intoxicated to drive. However, the current drunk driving statistics don’t seem to back up the idea that people would use the app responsibly but rather try to game the system and drive just drunk enough not to break the law.

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The Sharks were so impressed with Breathometer that they teamed up to offer $1 million for a 30 percent stake in the company. Everything seemed great, but in 2017, Breathometer was charged with fraud by the FTC because they had not been accurately representing how spot on their product was. Because of that, Breathometer was forced to refund all of its customers. While it’s admirable to let drivers educate themselves on their blood alcohol levels, it’s a risky gambit. People may feel it’s safe to drive because the Breathometer told them they’re 0.01 under the legal limit.

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GoGo Gear 

GoGo Gear was a line of fashionable-yet-functional motorcycle gear pitched to the Sharks on Shark Tank. The line focused on women’s fashion and intended to be stylish enough to work as a complete outfit for daytime or evening. Most of the clothing was made of leather, which is necessary for protecting the skin in the event of an accident. Leather is by far the most protective against the abrasive gravel and grit of the road. It’s a decent idea to make attire that can go from the road to the office, and many motorcycle enthusiasts are willing (and able) to drop a lot of cash on their hobby.

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Shark Daymond John made a deal with GoGo Gear for $300,000 in exchange for a 65 percent stake in the company. After the episode aired, John never ended up giving the owners any money. Instead, he became a business advisor to them so they could formulate a concrete business plan. GoGo Gear is still in business but hasn’t grown the way the founders had envisioned. While safe, durable motorcycle gear that can be worn as regular clothing is a great idea, society still isn’t in a place where full leather attire is standard or accepted for the workplace or anyplace.

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The Style Club 

In an attempt to appeal to the younger generation, The Style Club owner developed a company that offered a mobile shopping experience for teens. It used social media and influencers to boost sales. One issue the Sharks had is that The Style Club items were sold exclusively through Urban Outfitters. Despite that drawback, there is a noted popularity of mobile app shopping, with Wish and others being huge revenue sources primarily driven by younger shoppers. That seemed like an ideal market for growth, and a fun name like style club seemed poised for success.

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In the end, Cuban made a deal offering a $500,000 loan for a 22 percent equity stake in The Style Club. While the idea is cool, there are many retailers out there who sell similar items for way less money. The Style Club is still going strong, but who knows how long this type of business can last. In the age of fast fashion like Shein and more, there is increasing competition from extremely cheap clothing. However, fast fashion also has a growing backlash due to terrible labor standards for its employees and poor garment quality, so online shopping for quality pieces may see a resurgence in popularity even at a higher price.

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RuffleButts 

RuffleButts is a line of children’s clothing that features various bloomers that kids can wear to cover up diapers. Several of the Sharks were impressed by the idea, and a bidding war ensued. Tensions ran high between Sharks Lori Greiner and Barbara Corcoran, who ended up fighting over their offers. The concept of cute bottoms to cover diapers that are still easy to remove come changing time is a great concept. However, it’s also one that exists widely in many other clothing lines, making it a tough sell as the sole item and focus of an entire business.

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RuffleButts chose to partner with Greiner and made a deal for $600,000 for 10 percent of the business, with half the amount being a loan. Shark Mark Cuban said that it was the worst offer Greiner had ever made. After the show ended, nothing happened with RuffleButts and Greiner. The company tried to negotiate a better deal, but it fell through. The baby clothes market is already massive and includes many frilly, cute ways to cover diapers, so it’s unclear if there would have been any ultimate success with this business anyway. Baby items are just a tough nut to crack with so much competition.

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Elephant Pants 

Elephant Pants’ team is passionate about protecting elephants and making the most comfortable pants in the world. They also donate 10 percent of the net profits from Elephant Pants to elephant conservation organizations. After a flashy albeit over-the-top presentation, they were ready to field any offers from the Sharks. The socially conscious fashion concept is already fairly popular, with brands like Toms that donates a pair of shoes for every shoe sold and boasts giving away $1 for every $3 they make. There are numerous other socially conscious outfitters, so even this fashion category is likely difficult to break into.

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Elephant Pants was wise to accept an offer from fashion expert Daymond John for $500,000 for a 15 percent stake in the company as well as 2.5 percent in advisory shares. Elephant Pants are still in business, but they aren’t sold in any major retail stores. These are seen mostly as a novelty item and not a real fashion product. The clothing market is challenging to break into. An expensive item that only donates 10% to charity, no matter how great a charity, is likely to be a tough sell for both fashion enthusiasts and elephant lovers alike.

A baby playing with toys. Photo Credit: Montikids

Montikids 

Montikids are toys based on the Montessori way of learning. They were created as a way to aid in the development of young children. These toys are marketed to help kids learn through play and creativity. Rustic, old-fashioned wooden toys are seeing a massive resurgence as their ability to inspire imagination and creativity while also being durable and safe to play with is appreciated by parents worldwide. The Montessori method has long been associated with creative, smart children, so it makes sense to create a line of toys that tap into that stereotype since everyone wants intelligent, creative children.

Photo Credit: Montikids

After a bit of a bidding war, Montikids partnered with Shark Kevin O’Leary. The deal was for $200,000 for a 2.5 percent stake in the business. Also, the deal included a $10 royalty until his money was made back. It seems like MontiKids is still in business, but it hasn’t overextended. It’s such a niche product that it’s hard to see these toys appealing to parents who aren’t a part of the Montessori way of living and learning. There are so many brands and types of toys available for babies and toddlers today that it’s hard to stake out a claim as anything new and noteworthy.

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Honeyfund 

Honeyfund is a website created by a married couple designed for engaged couples to raise money for their honeymoon. This way, instead of getting wedding gifts from their guests, the newlyweds could accept payment to use for a honeymoon getaway. This concept is like crowdfunding but for married couples. We live in an age where many couples live together in a consolidated household before getting married. It makes sense to provide an alternative to the typical wedding registry of stuffy household kitchen gadgets and linens, all of which the couples already own together.

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Honeymoon funding allows for a memorable experience instead of just stuff.
The Sharks were iffy about Honeyfund, but in the end, the company accepted an unconventional deal from Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O’Leary. He offered them $400,000 for no shares in the company. Once he made his money back three times over, he would be out of the picture. Honeyfund is still in business, but it seems rude to force your wedding guests to give you a chunk of money instead of whatever gift they would like to provide. However, for more open-minded families, Honeyfund can be a fantastic opportunity to finance a dream vacation for couples who already live together and don’t need household items.

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Lose 12 Inches With Any 12 Workouts

Exercise companies have appeared on Shark Tank frequently. Like Cactus Jack before him, another cowboy made it onto the show to pitch his plan to build a fitness empire. Lose 12 Inches With Any 12 Workouts was designed as an alternative to expensive gyms and personal trainers. There are, of course, countless “alternatives to gyms and trainers” on the market, and most of them are mostly unsuccessful since it is quite honestly complicated to replace the results of professional gym machines and the guidance of a personal trainer. Plus, if a workout fails to deliver for any reason, people typically blame the exercise itself instead of themselves.

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Shark Daymond John saw value in the Lose 12 Inches With Any 12 Workouts brand and made a deal with the cowboy for $120,000 for a 25 percent equity share in the company. Eventually, the business grew enough to start earning revenue. Nevertheless, a gimmicky exercise program like this is hard to make money off of long term. Just look at the countless infomercials for fitness dads that only last a few months. People tend to cycle through gimmicky workouts quickly since they often lack the staying power of traditional exercise, and new exercise routines are hard to make.

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How Do You Roll

How Do You Roll is a sushi restaurant that’s a fast food-style business. It allows customers to pick and choose different customizations for their sushi rolls. This concept provides fresh sushi on the go for reasonable prices. With the massive popularity of sushi in the United States, this business model has many possibilities. Who wouldn’t love drive-thru sushi if it were fresh, well-made, and reasonably priced instead of having to sit down at a sushi restaurant or get subpar supermarket sushi? The challenge for an idea like this would be to make good sushi throughout the country, which can be challenging in the landlocked Midwest.

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After fielding several offers from the Sharks, the How Do You Roll team made a deal with Shark Kevin O’Leary. He offered them $1 million for a 22 percent stake in the business along with royalties from each franchise. After the show, negotiations fell through because of creative differences. With the amount of high quality, easy-to-find sushi diners can find out there, who knows if the failed deal was a good thing. Sushi is becoming more and more ubiquitous, even in smaller towns and landlocked areas like the Midwest. Getting delicious, fresh sushi at a reasonable price is still challenging, but cheap sushi itself is easy to find these days.

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Tom Chee 

Tom Chee is a grilled cheese and tomato soup restaurant based in Cincinnati, Ohio. This restaurant is known for its eclectic flavors and famous grilled cheese donut. The idea for Tom Chee was pitched to the Sharks, but some of them were unsure if the business would be a big success. Unique restaurants with fun names and interesting menus can become viral hits and great franchising opportunities, so it’s not surprising the sharks saw some opportunity. However, the restaurant business is complicated, and Ohio isn’t exactly known as a culinary trendsetter. For a restaurant like this to take off, it would need a truly unique item that became a cult hit.

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Sharks Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran teamed up to offer Tom Chee $600,000 for a 30 percent equity stake in the business. They also wanted franchise rights in Texas and New York. Cuban eventually dropped out of the deal, but Tom Chee is still around. Reviews have not been good, though, with many people saying their food is not tasty and often cold. It’s hard for a place like this to compete with established chains like Panera Bread, even with the cute name and unique menu offerings. The restaurant business is notoriously brutal, with as many as 50% of new restaurants failing within their first year of business.

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Sarah Oliver Handbags 

Sarah Oliver Handbags’s founder appeared on Shark Tank to promote her line of handmade knitted bags and purses. This company is unique in that it employs senior citizens to create handbags. The mission of the company is to empower seniors and make handbags with meaning. While this sounds like a great concept, how many seniors in the United States want to keep working into their elderly years? Most seniors have already lived full career lives. They have families and hobbies that give their lives meaning and don’t need to engage in physically demanding low-wage menial labor for empowerment. 

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After the presentation, Sarah Oliver Handbags made a deal with three of the Sharks. Lori Greiner, Kevin O’Leary, and Robert Herjavec offered the company $250,000 for a 30 percent stake in equity. The issue with this business is that it requires many seniors to produce enough bags to make it profitable. Additionally, Sarah Oliver Handbags needed to make sure they were paying their employees fairly. They were investigated by the federal Department of Labor, who believed the seniors were being exploited. It seems the business is no longer active, which is for the best if it exploits elderly employees.

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The Broccoli Wad 

The Broccoli Wad does not have anything to do with the green cruciferous vegetable. This unfortunately-named product is a money clip. It’s intended to hold a large sum of money securely and even replace a wallet. While secure alternatives to wallets are a great idea and are often favored for tourism to countries with pickpocketing issues like Italy, with such a poor name, it’s a wonder that even the sharks could figure out the intended purpose. Most people who travel internationally know better than to carry wads of cash and instead take insured traveler’s checks, so it’s uncertain who the target market is.

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This mafia-inspired product impacted Shark Tank, and Shark Barbara Corcoran made an offer of $50,000 for a 40 percent stake in the business. The business had a brief moment of success but ultimately flopped. The Broccoli Wad is no more, and Corcoran was out $50,000. Even having an actor from “The Sopranos” as the spokesperson for the product didn’t help. The product certainly didn’t have a very appealing name, as broccoli is a pretty widely-hated vegetable among children and adults. The term also definitely doesn’t make the nature of the product clear, which is typically an absolute must in marketing 101.

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Magic Cook 

Magic Cook is an on-the-go cooker that requires no heat, no gas, and no power. This idea puzzled the Sharks, who figured that someone who didn’t have access to a kitchen could go to a restaurant. Even with that mindset, Shark Daymond John invested $100,000 for a 33 percent stake in Magic Cook. The idea of a portable stove that doesn’t require heat, gas, or power is certainly appealing. However, it already exists in many different iterations and is a staple of hurricane and emergency supply kits. It would need to have exceptional features to set it apart from other emergency cookers.

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After the show, Magic Cook did not take off as the founders intended. Interest in the product waned, and the website is only offering one discounted item. There were even rumors that the idea and design for the Magic Cook were stolen from another company. The target market for the Magic Cook simply isn’t clear. It could potentially be used in emergencies when there is no gas or power, but butane stoves are already commonly available at a reasonable price for this purpose. Outdoors adventurers could potentially use it, but they know how to build a fire and likely just pack a butane camp stove.

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Sealed by Santa 

Sealed by Santa is a company that sends personalized letters from Santa at the North Pole to kids at Christmas. The packages offered by Sealed by Santa also included video messages from Old Saint Nick. The company accepted an offer of $150,000 for a 22.5 percent stake in the company. The company’s concept was that busy parents could order a sealed by Santa package for their children that would be more elaborate and creative than anything they would have time to create, giving a child an extra special Christmas. It certainly seems like a magical idea.

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The concept behind this idea is cute, but how lucrative can it be? It’s only used for maybe two months out of the year. Also, not every household celebrates Christmas or has kids who believe in Santa and his elves, so it’s not a strong business idea. Many homes that celebrate Christmas would likely want to create their own unique Christmas items for their kids, even if they are busy since it’s part of the holiday season’s magic. Even the most active parents would probably prefer to spend a late night making something special themselves versus just ordering it online.

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Chill Soda 

Chill Soda hopes to be the next significant healthy alternative to sugary sodas. These drinks have no high fructose corn syrup or simple sugars and are sweetened with agave nectar. It claims to taste just as good as regular sodas. When the product debuted, there was a lot of interest in alternative sweeteners, including agave nectar, the herb stevia, and more. However, this market has largely been squeezed out now by entirely sweetener-free carbonated drinks like La Croix that are incredibly popular and taking up an increasingly large space on supermarket shelves. Many of the alternative sweeteners simply didn’t pan out.

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On the show, Chill Soda made a deal with Shark Barbara Corcoran for $50,000 for a 20 percent stake in the company. This product was on the first season of the show and since then has not been for sale. Despite its website being open with a button to buy the drinks, Chill Soda is effectively a shuttered business. Despite a short-term fad of interest in agave nectar, it is not a very safe alternative to sugar with its extremely high glycemic index. Current studies show it’s significantly worse for you than traditional sucrose.

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Fridge Fronts 

Have you ever looked at your refrigerator and wished you could change how it looked? That’s what the creator of Fridge Fronts aimed to make happen. Fridge Fronts are magnetic coverings to put on unsightly appliances. Anyone who has owned a vintage refrigerator that still works but is a horrible, tacky, color Fridge Fronts could seem like a godsend. It could similarly benefit people who need to upgrade a stove or dishwasher due to breakage and are forced to choose a finish, like stainless steel, that does not match the still-functioning refrigerator. Many people are concerned about keeping all of their kitchen appliances fitting tidily.

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Although the Sharks were skeptical about this business, two teamed up to offer Fridge Fronts $100,000 for a 50 percent stake in the company. It seemed like this was a pity deal since the founder gave the Sharks a sob story. This business appears to have slowed down because its social media pages have been inactive for years. While it is an appealing idea, in theory, to help people inexpensively upgrade their kitchens’ appearance, how many people does it ultimately end up applying to? Many people concerned about their kitchen are likely well-off enough to replace an ugly, outdated refrigerator.

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Grill Charms

Grill Charms are small steel charms diners put into steak so you can identify how done each piece of meat is as it’s grilled. There are charms for rare, medium, medium-rare, and medium-well. The Sharks liked the idea, and most of them wanted to invest. It is a brilliant idea and could help prevent a lot of miscommunication at a large barbecue. It’s similar to the popular concert of wine charms, which let people label their wine glass if they need to put it down somewhere during a busy soiree. While the grill charms didn’t include names, it’s still helpful for calling out steak preferences.

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In the end, Grill Charms accepted a deal with Shark Robert Herjavec for $50,000 for a 25 percent stake in the business. This concept is interesting but only works for people who eat red meat. Health-conscious people and vegans, and vegetarians have no use for these items. As of 2011, it seemed like Grill Charms was no longer under the same ownership, although it does appear to still be in business. It suffers from the same flaw of many of the other kitchen items on this list, serving only one very narrow purpose in the kitchen. Few people have the patience and storage room for single-use gadgets.

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Flipoutz 

Flipoutz are silicone bracelets that kids can wear and customize. They have five slots for coins that can be printed with fun designs and messages. The idea behind the product is that kids could trade currencies with each other for their Flipoutz. While this is a cute idea, it requires enough children to own them to make the trading portion possible in theory. If only one or two kids in a school or neighborhood own them, it eliminates the entire social component. It reduces them to just a customizable bracelet, which is already widely available in many different forms.

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After their pitch, three of the Sharks teamed up to offer the Flipoutz team $100,000 for a 33 percent equity stake in the business. Flipoutz had a bit of success but closed several years ago. In the rapidly-changing world of kids’ toys and accessories, an idea like this can become outdated extremely fast. Anyone who has been around for a couple of decades knows that kids burn through trends more quickly than wildfire. The 90s saw Pogs, the collectible, tradeable cardboard coins that could be hit with slammers in a game, which also burned out almost immediately after a short flare-up of extreme popularity.

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Three65 Underwear 

On the Australian version of Shark Tank, an entrepreneur pitched the idea for Three65 Underwear to the Sharks. This company is a subscription service that sends subscribers socks and underwear every three months. Men would be the primary target market for the convenience service, based on the idea that men don’t enjoy shopping and could be spared the torment of having to go to their local shop for necessities like socks and underwear. While these types of services seem far more useful in the age of Covid, before that, it’s hard to imagine not having the time to grab a package of Hanes at the store.

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The pitch was rocky, and the Sharks gave the founder a hard time, but a deal was still made. Two of the Sharks got together to offer Three65 Underwear $120,000 for a 50 percent stake in the company. In the end, this company was a good idea and is still in business and seems to be profitable. Nowadays, other companies on the market, like MeUndies, offer similar subscription services for socks, pajamas, and underwear. However, it’s hard to think that many people would sign up for its usefulness when it’s easy to run out and buy underwear and socks.

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Soy-Yer-Dough 

Soy-Yer-Dough is a soy-based alternative to children’s Play-Doh. It’s designed to work for children who are allergic to wheat. Traditional Play-Doh contains wheat, so allergic kids can’t play with it. Regular wheat-based Play-Doh could also cause serious gastrointestinal issues for any children with Celiac disease since it is fairly common for young children to nibble a bite of the tantalizingly weird-smelling dough. There does seem to be some evidence that more and more people are becoming allergic to, or at least sensitive to, wheat and wheat gluten, so having a “safer” alternative to the ubiquitous Play-Doh is certainly a great idea, in theory.

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After pitching the idea to the Sharks, the creator of Soy-Yer-Dough accepted an offer for $300,000 for a 51 percent stake in the company from Sharks Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary, and Robert Herjavec. Soy-Yer-Dough is still on the market, but the reviews haven’t been great. People claim it’s too sticky and doesn’t mold well. However, as parental concern continues to grow over wheat and gluten, unfounded or not, there may continue to be a growing market for wheat-free play alternatives. However, many of those same parents likely make their own slimes and doughs at home as educational enrichment activities.

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Nubrella 

The Nubrella is a personal umbrella helmet contraption designed to work as a hands-free umbrella. The user straps it on like a backpack, and it covers its head and shoulders. It supposedly is stronger than a standard umbrella and protects you better from the rain. In theory, it’s a great idea, especially for people who may need to wait idly in the rain at a bus stop or some such, since it would free them up to use their phone without having to worry about holding a traditional umbrella. Cheap umbrellas can also be rickety and often break so that a new design might be welcome.

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The Sharks liked the Nubrella, and two of them paired up to offer $100,000 for a 51 percent stake in the company. The deal was accepted, and Nubrella has funding. This item seems more like a novelty than a usable product. It’s bulky and looks strange. Also, they retail from $70 up to $150. It seems like Nubrella would likely have a very small niche. The market is limited to wealthy commuters in big cities like New York. However, the number of wealthy who take public transit is likely quite slim. It might possibly work for hikers in areas like the Pacific Northwest see a lot of rain.

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Naturally Perfect Dolls 

Naturally Perfect Dolls is an idea that seemed like an excellent fit for Shark Tank. This company made dolls that were uplifting for little girls around the globe. The message behind these dolls was that every girl is beautiful; therefore, the dolls were unique and diverse. These dolls filled an essential missing niche since dolls in western stores still tend to be overwhelmingly white and fit a European beauty standard. There are very few Black dolls, and those few typically have features identical to the white dolls with just slightly darker skin and dark straight hair.

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The Sharks liked the concept of Naturally Perfect Dolls and were happy to invest. Shark Daymond John made a deal for $200,000 for a 30 percent stake in equity. After the show aired, orders for Naturally Perfect Dolls came in rapidly. The company could not keep up, and customers were forced to wait up to three months for their orders. The company is no longer in business. Creating dolls is a surprisingly complicated manufacturing feat with many different materials and processes required, so it’s not surprising that the creators ran into trouble meeting the high demand.

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Pristine Cleansing Sprays 

You may not be able to tell from the name of the product. However, Pristine Cleansing Sprays are intended to help people clean themselves after using the restroom. These butt sprays are supposed to be a better alternative to toilet paper and wet wipes. The owners envisioned Pristine Cleansing Sprays being as essential to butts as shampoo is to hair. The concept is that you would spray Pristine Cleansing spray onto dry toilet paper to make it into a wet wipe without the chemical and plastic packaging of traditional wet wipes. It would serve as a sort of middle ground between toilet paper and bidets.

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Shark Lori Greiner was interested in the product and offered Pristine Cleansing Sprays $50,000 for a 25 percent stake in equity, provided they could get a partnership with Squatty Potty. While this product seems useful, the market is already oversaturated with adult cleansing wipes and bathroom hygiene sprays. Time will tell if this invention is a worthy investment. Having to spray toilet paper seems like a major potential drawback since toilet paper is fairly notorious for disintegrating or at least pilling up badly when it becomes wet. It certainly doesn’t have the durability of a traditional cloth-like damp wipe.

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TurboBaster

TurboBaster is a battery-operated device that was designed to make cooking at home much more manageable. It’s supposed to replace traditional bulb basters and make cooking juicy meat simple and quick. The device can hold various types of marinades as well. The idea was that cooking whole turkeys, chickens, and other game birds might be a more attractive prospect to foodies if they didn’t have to babysit the bird with a traditional bulb baster. However, it does raise the question of who is interested enough in foods to cook a whole bird but isn’t interested in the nitty-gritty preparation and basting of said bird?

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TurboBaster accepted a deal with one of the original Sharks Kevin Harrington. The deal was for $35,000 for a 30 percent stake in the company. They hoped that his expertise would make the product the next As Seen On TV sensation. Unfortunately, that never happened as the TurboBaster never made it on the market and is now defunct. Its website and social media pages are all shut down. Most people already have too many single-purpose gadgets cluttering up their kitchen and are more likely to look for items that can serve multiple useful purposes. While single-use devices were popular in the 50s and 60s, we are too busy and minimalist for them today.

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Wild Earth

Wild Earth is a line of plant-based dog snacks that was pitched on Shark Tank. These dog treats are free of antibiotics, animal ingredients, artificial preservatives, fillers, and other mystery additives. They’re intended to reduce the carbon footprint made by the pet food industry. They were also intended as an alternative snack for people attempting to feed their pet dogs a vegetarian or even vegan diet. Why? Because the vast majority of dog treats on the market contain at least some animal products or by-products. The treats’ high quality was supposed to ease pet owners’ concerns concerned by recalls and potentially toxic ingredients in low-quality treats.

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Wild Earth dog treats made a deal with Shark Mark Cuban for $550,000 for a 10 percent stake in the company. That gave the company an $11 million valuation, which is exceptionally high. It is a niche product that still hasn’t been proven to be beneficial to dogs. Much research is being done on how effective plant-based diets are for pets. There is controversy among veterinarians if dogs can indeed be healthy on vegan or vegetarian diets. They have historically been omnivores with a fair amount of meat in their diets and their ancestors’ diets.

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