Home Business Stories Of Inspiring Failure From The Stars Of ‘Shark Tank’

Stories Of Inspiring Failure From The Stars Of ‘Shark Tank’

Trista December 23, 2019

If there’s one thing to learn from watching Shark Tank, it’s that not every deal is perfectly made. Many of the entrepreneurs experience rejection or receive deals that are much less than they originally wanted. When a company walks away from the Shark Tank, they may think their dead in the water, but that’s not the case. Being on the show in itself is a significant step to success.

Even the Sharks featured on the show have dealt with failure at some point in their careers. A lot can be learned from the Sharks and how the speedbumps on the road to Shark Tank have shaped who they are as business people. It’s plain to see that so many of the companies who have been rejected from Shark Tank and labeled “failures” have ended up finding success. Keep reading to learn more about the Sharks on Shark Tank and their top stories of failure.

Sharks swimming around in a tank at the aquarium. Credit: Pixabay

1. Shark Tank

For over a decade, Shark Tank has been entertaining millions of people on the ABC network. It originated from a show in Japan called Tigers of Money that led to a Canadian version called Dragons’ Den. In fact, two of the show’s Sharks, Kevin O’Leary, and Robert Herjavec, started on Dragons’ Den.

The dramatic show features budding entrepreneurs looking to get funding for their business from one or more of the Sharks. The Sharks are paid to be on the show, but the money that they invest in the ideas is directly from them. Each season of Shark Tank, more than 40,000 people apply for the show, but less than 100 make it on the show.

The Shark Tank judges. Credit: CNBC

2. The Sharks

As we mentioned before, Sharks Robert Herjavec and Kevin O’Leary were originally featured investors on the Canadian show Dragons’ Den. They have been on Shark Tank since it started, along with Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran. For the first two seasons, Kevin Harrington was also a Shark on the show.

In the second season of Shark Tank, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban joined the show as a guest Shark. He became a fan favorite and ended up joining the show as a permanent cast member in season 3. The same happened with QVC Queen Lori Greiner, who guested in season 3 and joined the cast in season 4.

Shark Tank judge Kevin O’Leary. Credit: Getty Images

3. Kevin O’Leary

Mr. Wonderful Kevin O’Leary is a Canadian businessman who co-founded SoftKey, a computer software CR-ROM distributor, as well as the O’Leary Funds. SoftKey was O’Leary’s leading money-making venture in the 1980s and 1990s. This company ended up acquiring several companies, including The Learning Company, Compton’s New Media, and Broderbund.

Other investments made by Kevin O’Leary include the Canadian climate-controlled storage facility chain StorageNow Holdings. He also joined the advisory board of Genstar Capital, an equity firm that invests in healthcare services. O’Leary also has plenty of investments in the stock exchange and the physical gold market.

A smiling Barbie doll. Credit: Pixabay

4. Mattel Fiasco

Kevin O’Leary’s company SoftKey changed its name to The Learning Company and was acquired by toy company Mattel in 1999. The sale of SoftKey made O’Leary a multimillionaire. Unfortunately, his time at Mattel was short-lived.

Mattel bought SoftKey for $4 billion. They didn’t realize that the company they purchased frequently dealt with net losses and collapsing revenues. In one of the most disastrous business acquisitions in history, Mattel lost more than $105 million and was embroiled in lawsuits. Because of this, Kevin O’Leary was fired from the company. Additionally, Kevin O’Leary has been involved in several other trials.

Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban. Credit: Getty Images

5. Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban is best known for being the owner of the NBA basketball team the Dallas Mavericks. He is also the chairman of AXS TV as well as the co-owner of 2929 Entertainment. Cuban has a net worth of nearly $4 billion.

He started by opening his own company MicroSolutions, which was a software reseller and system integrator. Cuban sold that company to a subsidiary of H&R Block for $6 million. He made a lot of his money by investing in new internet projects like Broadcast.com, which eventually sold to Yahoo during the dot com boom for $5.7 billion worth of Yahoo stock. Mark Cuban has an incredibly diverse portfolio and has a knack for finding great businesses to invest in.

A frowning face. Credit: Pixabay

6. NBA Fines and Controversies

Cuban has not been without his share of controversies. He purchased the Dallas Mavericks for $285 million in 2000. NBA owners are held to high standards and must stick to a particular code of conduct. Because of Cuban’s loud mouth and temper, he has been fined more than $1.66 million for 13 different incidents during basketball games. The largest NBA fine in history was $500,000 owed by Mark Cuban.

Cuban has also been accused of insider trading. The SEC investigated him about shares of a business called Copernic, formerly known as Mamma.com. The charges were eventually dropped, but Cuban endured a years-long legal battle because of it.

Shark Tank judge Robert Herjavec. Credit: CNBC

7. Robert Herjavec

Shark Tank investor Robert Herjavec is originally from Croatia. His family settled in Canada when he was younger, and that’s where he built his empire. Herjavec founded BRAK Systems, which was an integrator of Internet security software in Canada. In 2000, he sold the company to AT&T Canada for Over $30 million.

Eventually, he started one of the fastest-growing technology groups in Canada, the Herjavec group. It’s also known as the most significant IT security provider in the country. To date, the Herjavec Group has made more than $500 million in sales. Robert Jerjavec’s net worth is approximately $200 million.

Two people fighting. Credit: Pixabay

8. Behind the Scenes Feud

You may not realize it while watching the show, but Sharks Rober Herjavec and Mark Cuban had somewhat of a rivalry going on. When Mark Cuban began on the show as a guest investor in the second season, his big ego and brash attitude did not sit well with Herjavec. Because of that, there was significant tension behind the scenes.

Herjavec was most likely not pleased when Cuban became a fixed member of the Sharks panel. It was a no-brainer to add Cuban onto the show permanently as he was the main reason for the show’s ratings to skyrocket. It seems like since then, the two have patched things up and are now getting along well.

Shark Tank judge Barbara Corcoran. Credit: CNBC

9. Barbara Corcoran

Barbara Corcoran is a real estate investor that was the first female Shark on Shark Tank. She made her money by founding the real estate brokerage The Corcoran Group. Corcoran sold her company to the real estate firm NRT in 2001 for $66 million. She has a net worth of about $80 million.

On Shark Tank, Corcoran has made nearly 60 deals for a pledged total of $5.4 million. Her most substantial investment was in the company Coverplay, which creates slipcovers for children’s play areas. In addition to being on Shark Tank, Corcoran is a columnist for publications like Redbook, More, and The Daily Review. She also makes appearances on the Today show and CNBC.

Shark Tank judge Lori Greiner. Credit: Business Insider

10. Lori Greiner

Lori Greiner started on Shark Tank as a guest investor in season two and was promoted to a permanent seat on the panel in Season 3. She began her company with a patented plastic earring holder she designed in 1996. Greiner pitched the product to JC Penney, and it sold so well she paid off their loan within 18 months.

She then got into the world of home shopping by selling products on the Home Shopping Network and QVC. Many of her products are also sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Greiner is best known as the Queen of QVC and makes regular appearances with her show Clever & Unique creations. She is a part of the biggest success story from Shark Tank, Scrub Daddy, which has made hundreds of millions of dollars.

A woman holding shopping bags. Credit: Pixabay

11. QVC’s Rival

Before being known as the Queen of QVC, Lori Greiner worked for QVC’s rival, the Home Shopping Network. She originally went to QVC to pitch a few products, but they turned her down. After that, she approached the Home Shopping Network, who put her on the air.

Once QVC took notice of Greiner’s success, they offered her a show on the network in 2000. Most of the time, Greiner will appear on QVC the day after making a deal on Shark Tank, and her products quickly sell out. We wonder how the Home Shopping Network feels about Lori’s loyalty to QVC.

Shark Tank judge Daymond John. Credit: Getty Images

12. Daymond John

Daymond John is the fashion expert of the show Shark Tank and is best known for being the founder, CEO, and president of FUBU. FUBU was a colossal fashion line in the 1990s that was popular with hip hop artists, young people, and sports stars. What started in his mother’s basement quickly became one of the most powerful and influential hip hop clothing lines of all time.

FUBU has made more than $6 billion in global sales. Since Shark Tank began, John has invested over $8.5 million in companies. Two of his favorite investments have been Bombas Socks and Bubba’s-Q Boneless Ribs. In just three years, John’s guidance took the rib company from making $154,000 in sales to $16 million!

A man holding a stack of money. Credit: Pixabay

13. $20 Million Mistake

Most people who receive a large amount of money would not know how to handle it. Can you imagine making millions of dollars overnight? That’s what happened to Daymond John in the 1990s.

Unfortunately, John had not learned about the power of saving money and spending it in moderation. He started spending money faster than he was earning it. John managed to blow $20 million on houses, cars, jewelry, and other luxuries within a year. Luckily he has learned a lot since then and knows how to manage his money correctly.

Two people shaking hands in an office. Credit: Pixabay

14. Deals are Frequently Changed

When a Shark shakes hands with an entrepreneur on Shark Tank, that doesn’t mean the deal is final. After the episode is shot, the Shark will sit down with a company’s owner and hash out the details. Many times, investment amounts, as well as equity portions, are changed. Roughly 76 percent of Shark Tank deals change behind the scenes.

During this period, many deals fall through. The company founders could get cold feet and back out of the agreement or decide that they don’t want to give up a part of their business. Additionally, some people have ended deals because they didn’t feel like they were getting a fair offer. About 43 percent of sales on Shark Tank end completely.

A woman drinking a glass of wine. Credit: Pixabay

15. Wine Balloon

One product that was pitched on Shark Tank but was swiftly rejected is the Wine Balloon. This contraption puts a balloon into a bottle of wine to keep air from permeating the wine and make it go sour. It helps keep leftover wine fresh and safe to drink the next day.

The Sharks were not fans of the product and saw issues with its manufacturing. Even though none of the Sharks invested in the Wine Balloon, it still hit the market and sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of products. Eventually, the Wine Balloon was acquired by another company, and the name was changed, but the product still functions the same way.

Two front doors. Credit: Pixabay

16. Ring Doorbell

One of the biggest success stories to happen to a product rejected by the Sharks on Shark Tank is the Ring Doorbell. When it was pitched on the show, the Sharks thought it was an obsolete product that people would not want to use. They didn’t see much value in a video doorbell that connects to a smartphone.

The inventor of the Ring Doorbell has gotten the last laugh, though. The product’s popularity has exploded, and commercials for it are always on TV. Even Shaquille O’Neal is a fan and agreed to be in Ring commercials for equity in the company. In 2018, Ring was acquired by Amazon for $1.1 billion.

A bottle and a glass of red wine. Credit: Pixabay

17. Copa Di Vino

Copa Di Vino is an innovative product that lets people drink single servings of wine in sealed plastic cups. When it appeared on Shark Tank, the Sharks likes the sealed cup’s design, but not the wine. No deal was made, and the founder of Copa Di Vino walked away empty-handed.

After appearing on Shark Tank, Copa Di Vino began to sell very well. It did so well that it made it back onto Shark Tank to get an investment from one of the Sharks possibly. None of them changed their minds about the product, but that didn’t affect the success of Copa Di Vino.

A woman applying lipstick. Credit: Pixabay

18. The Lip Bar

The cosmetics industry is a competitive market, but the Lip Bar aimed to add freshness to it. They pitched their cocktail inspired cosmetics and plans for a mobile Lip Bar to the Sharks. Their unique lip colors like bright blue and yellow did not appeal to the Sharks.

The Sharks felt that the colors weren’t marketable enough and that the makeup industry was too tough of a market to break into. They declined to make a deal with the Lip Bar. In the end, the Lip Bar got funding for its products and mobile idea and even made it onto the shelves in Target.

A person putting whipped cream on a plate of pancakes. Credit: Pixabay

19. Kodiak Cakes

Kodiak Cakes is a delicious, healthier alternative to the typical kinds of pancake mix. These pancakes have added protein and whole grains to make breakfast not only taste good but be good for you. The Sharks didn’t bite at the chance to invest in Kodiak Cakes, so the brand was on its own.

Since being on the show, Kodiak Cakes has exploded. They are now the fourth most popular pancake mix brand in the world. Their product line has also expanded. They are proof that having a failed pitch on Shark Tank isn’t the end of the road for business.

A man and a woman in love. Credit: Pixabay

20. Coffee Meets Bagel

There is a wide variety of dating sites and apps to choose from in order to find your ideal mate. One dating app that made an appearance on Shark Tank is Coffee Meets Bagel. This app was designed to help people find quality dates with similar interests.

The Sharks liked the idea, but the ones interested in investing in the product wanted to buy it outright for a small amount of money. The founders said no and walked away without securing any funding. After the show, they found investors and quickly grew the app. Coffee Meets Bagel is now worth over $80 million.

Two dogs sleeping on a bed. Credit: Pixabay

21. BedJet

The creator of BedJet was passionate about making bedtime more comfortable. BesJet is a heating and cooling system that can change the temperature of your mattress depending on if you prefer to be warmer or cooler while you sleep. The Sharks weren’t exactly impressed with this product.

None of the Sharks thought BedJet would make a lot of money. They also felt that it was too expensive, and the profit margin was too small. Even though BedJet didn’t receive any funding on Shark Tank, the business is still going strong today, selling the product on its website as well as Amazon.

A nail technician giving a manicure. Credit: Pixabay

22. Hammer & Nails

Hammer & Nails was pitched on Shark Tank as a manlier alternative to a nail salon. It was designed to be more welcoming to male customers who wanted to enjoy a luxurious manicure and pedicure experience but felt uncomfortable going to a regular salon. It seemed like a strong idea, but the Sharks didn’t love it.

Even though Hammer & Nails didn’t receive any offers from the Sharks, it still manages to open its doors. Currently, there are nearly 20 locations around the world, and close to 200 franchisee licenses have been sold. The world of nail salons for men is steadily growing.

A bride holding a bouquet. Credit: Pixabay

23. The Bouqs Co.

The business of buying flowers online can be lucrative, but for customers, fees can be costly. The Bouqs Co aims to revolutionize the floral industry by offering high-quality bouquets of flowers for a flat fee. Customers can order a bouquet for just $44, and the price includes delivery and shipping fees.

This concept did not excite the Sharks like the founder may have hoped. None of them made an offer, and he walked away with no funding. He persevered with the business, and it ended up making millions of dollars each year. Shark Robert Herjavec ended up investing in the industry after he became impressed with how it was run.

A person sitting on the beach barefoot. Credit: Pixabay

24. Xero Shoes

Did you know that science says that running barefoot is the safest method for a person’s feet and joints? Because of that, the founders of Xero Shoes designed minimalist footwear that mimics the feel of running without any shoes on. They made it onto Shark Tank in the hopes of expanding their business.

After being on Shark Tank and not receiving a deal from any of the Sharks, Xero Shoes became overwhelmed with orders after their episode. Now the shoes are sold on their website and in several retailers. Since being rejected from Shark Tank, Xero Shoes has become a multi-million dollar business.

A notebook with a pencil and sharpener. Credit: Pixabay

25. RocketBook

The concept behind RocketBook is unique and definitely out of this world! This reusable notebook is attached to a smartphone app that lets the user upload all of their notes to a cloud database. They can then stick the RocketBook in the microwave to erase the contents of the pages and start all over.

The Sharks were not fans of this product and thoughts that selling a reusable notebook was a waste of time because they wouldn’t be able to get any repeat customers. Fortunately for the founders of RocketBook, viewers of Shark Tank love the concept, and their sales skyrocketed overnight. Now you can find a variety of sizes of RocketBooks in stores and on Amazon.

A person doing laundry in a laundromat. Credit: Pixabay

26. Eco Nuts

For environmentally-conscious families, it can be hard to find a laundry detergent that cleans clothes thoroughly while still being eco-friendly. That’s where Eco Nuts come in. This product is a line of fresh smelling cleaning products that are all-natural and great for the environment.

Many of the Sharks were very interested in this product but wanted at least a 50 percent stake in the business. Because of that, the owners walked away and forged on with their business by themselves. Thanks to being on Shark Tank, Eco Nuts has made more than $1 million in sales.

Flour and butter on a wood cutting board. Credit: Pixabay

27. The Smart Baker

The Smart Baker is a great business with an awesome concept. They provide cookware, aprons, cake stands, and other baking accessories that make it easy to create delicious baked goods. Because baking requires precision, it can be hard to know the proper measurements for a recipe offhand. The Smart Baker’s products come with measurement guidelines.

The Sharks were very interested in the smart baker, and the company ended up making a deal with Shark Barbara Corcoran. Behind the scenes after the show, the Smart Baker ended up breaking off the agreement because they didn’t want to give up a significant stake in the company. By the second year after their episode aired, they were earning $1 million annually.

A plate of bacon cheeseburgers. Credit: Pixabay

28. Chef Big Shake

Chef Big Shake was a larger-than-life personality who entertained the Sharks with his great pitch and tasty shrimp burgers. He wanted to expand his business and get his food on grocery store shelves. The Sharks liked his style but didn’t see the company taking off, so they declined to make a deal.

After being on the show, Chef Big Shake found an investor, and his business took off. He was quickly in stores and working on opening a restaurant in Tennessee. His products are the number one deal Shark Mark Cuban regrets not making. Chef Big Shake is worth roughly $5 million.

A woman holding an apple. Credit: Pixabay

29. MealEnders

For those who want to lose weight, it would be great to have something that could help curb your appetite, right? That’s what the founder of MealEnders believes. He created a minty fresh tablet that helps to keep people from overeating.

The Sharks hated the taste of the MealEnders tablets and didn’t feel like they were working. None of them offered a deal, and the founder walked away empty-handed. Being on the show was still great for the product as it sold more than $400,000 in products within a week of the episode airing. MealEnders can be found on Amazon and the company’s website.

A person holding a cell phone. Credit: Pixabay

30. CellHelmet

For most people, their smartphone is a massive part of their lives. It’s hard to imagine waking up and not checking your phone first thing. But phones are expensive, so protecting them is essential. That is CellHelmet’s mission!

They offer phone cases, screen protectors, charging cables, and more. They also will fix any phone that has been damaged while wearing a CellHelmet case for just $50. The Sharks liked the pitch but didn’t see cell phone accessories as a worthwhile investment. That’s okay though because CellHelmet sold nearly 1500 items the night their episode aired and are still going strong.

A woman wearing a winter coat. Credit: Pixabay

31. CoatChex

CoatChex is a digital coat check system that works to make checking a coat or bag easier. It connects to an app on your phone that is scanned, so you don’t have to keep an eye on a paper ticket. This concept aimed to make sports games and other events much easier to manage.

The creator of CoatChex was offered a deal on the show but turned it down because it would involve him giving up a 33 percent stake in his business. Today, CoatChex is thriving and has even been used at New York Fashion Week and the Super Bowl.

A field of dandelion fuzz. Credit: Pixabay

32. First Defense Nasal Screens

For people with allergies or those who live in smoggy environments, the air they breathe is not always fresh. Just being outside for a few minutes can cause your breathing to worsen. The inventor of the First Defense Nasal Screens aimed to help with that.

These small screens sit on your nostrils to filter out 99 percent of dust and other allergens. It’s ideal for people with allergies. In the end, a deal was made on the show but later fell through. Luckily the business persevered, and these nasal screens are sold in numerous countries around the world and used to aid those in developing countries.

A man playing the guitar. Credit: Pixabay

33. Voyage Air Guitar

Playing the guitar is a fun hobby, but traveling with one is another story. The creator of the Voyage Air Guitar developed a guitar that folds at the neck, so it’s easier to pack and travel with. Even when the guitar is folded and unfolded, it stays in tune.

The Sharks were somewhat interested in the business, and an offer was made for $500,000 in exchange for 51 percent of the market. The founder of Voyage Air Guitar declined the deal as he didn’t want to give up such a vast portion of the company. He left the show without any funding. Since then, Voyage Air Guitar has expanded to include over 200 retail stores.

Women wearing high heels. Credit: Pixabay

34. Solemates

Wearing high heels is fun and fashionable, but it can be hard to walk on soft surfaces like grass and dirt. With Solemates, that worry is a thing of the past. This product is a small plastic piece that attaches to the heel of a shoe and keeps it from sinking into the grass.

Several Sharks were interested in Solemates, but the founders ended up turning down every deal in what they believed was the right decision. The business has grown exponentially since their episode of Shark Tank aired. Solemates can be found on Amazon and at more than 4,000 CVS stores.

A man with a beard looking out the window. Credit: Pixabay

35. Beard King

Beard King is a men’s grooming company that provides grooming solution for men with bushy beards. Their primary product is a beard bib that attaches to a mirror with suction cups to catch any hair that falls during a shave. They also sold face wash and other beard products.

Initially, Beard King made a deal with QVC maven Lori Greiner for $100,000 for a 20 percent stake in the company. After the show, the founders of Beard King pulled out of the deal because they decided it didn’t fit their plan for the company. That worked out fine for them because Beard King is quite successful.

Bluetooth connecting to different electronic devices. Credit: Pixabay

36. Zomm

Another company that could be considered a failure when it was rejected by Shark Tank is Zomm. This product is a Bluetooth enabled key fob that connects to a smartphone and will alert you whenever you are at least 20 feet away from your phone. It’s a great way to know where your phone and also your keys are at all times.

When the founder pitched his business to the Sharks, he revealed to them that the company was over $10 million in debt. That greatly concerned the Sharks, and they all declined to make a deal. After the episode aired, Zomm received a tremendous amount of traffic, and sales began to increase. The business is now thriving.

A cup of coffee and a laptop. Credit: Pixabay

37. Victory Coffees

Quite a few coffee companies have pitched their brands on Shark Tank. One of those businesses is Victory Coffees. This company was started by a former Navy SEAL and has a military and patriotic vibe to it.

The Sharks seemed to enjoy the flavors of the coffee but didn’t see the company going anywhere. The coffee industry is hard to break into, and the subscription service business model isn’t a foolproof investment. No Sharks made a deal, and the owner walked away empty-handed. Because of publicity from Shark Tank, Victory Coffees’ orders grew in numbers extremely fast. Many customers have given the specialty coffee 5-star reviews.

A cup of coffee on a wooden table. Credit: Pixabay

38. Grinds

Grinds were created as a healthier alternative to chewing tobacco. These little pouches of coffee mimic the process of holding chewing tobacco in your mouth but with no toxic effects. They also provide a nice boost of energy.

The founders of Grinds made a deal with Sharks Robert Herjavec and Daymond John, but after negotiating off-camera, the deal fell through. It all worked out well for Grinds as they have been selling their coffee pouches steadily and continuously have new products coming out. They even have decaf flavors so you can get your coffee fix at any time of the day!

A bright red fire hydrant. Credit: Pixabay

39. Hy-Conn

In an attempt to revolutionize the way firefighters do their job, Hy-Conn was born. This device was designed to make connecting a firehouse to a fire hydrant easy and quick. That way, firefighters could start battling a fire minutes faster than they usually would.

Hy-Conn ended up making a deal with Mark Cuban, but everything fell apart during the negotiation period. The founder of Hy-Conn claimed Mark Cuban’s ego ruined the agreement as he started making changes to the agreement that was not in line with the plan for the business. After the transaction failed, another company provided the needed funding to get Hy-Conn off the ground.

A pair of glasses on top of a laptop. Credit: Pixabay

40. Proof Eyewear

Three brothers from Boise, Idaho, created Proof Eyewear as a business that makes sustainable wood frames for eyeglasses and sunglasses. They also used recycled materials like old skateboard decks and plastic to create their products. They came onto Shark Tank to expand their business.

The brothers spent most of their time on Shark Tank haggling with the Sharks. They put too much value on their company, so the Sharks were unwilling to make a deal to satisfy both parties. Thanks to the exposure from being on the show, Proof Eyewear has grown nicely and can be found in more than 20 retailers.