The investors from TV’s Shark Tank aren’t going to want to see this. Here are ten ventures turned down on the show, that have become great successes.
Cellhelmet provides protective cases for your most precious possession – your cell phone. Since being turned down on Shark Tank, Cellhelmet has gone on to create a whole suite of mobile device accessories including charging solutions, power banks and screen protectors. Their products can now be found in 3,000 stores, and they have offices in both the US and China.
Showcasing his famous shrimp burgers on Shark Tank didn’t land Chef Big Shake an offer. It did create a mountain of interest in his work and cooking. His episode of Shark Tank has now been aired 100 times. That turned into appearances on QVC, Martha Stewart Radio, Man Versus Food, CBS Sunday Mornings and Access Hollywood. Chef’s Nashville Hot Chicken restaurants now have multiple locations and franchise opportunities, and yes, shrimp burgers are on the menu.
Known as ‘Doorbot’ when it appeared on Shark Tank. The Shark’s weren’t excited enough to make the founder an appealing enough offer to participate in this startup. It is now one of their biggest mistakes. Ring has not only raised over $200 million from top-shelf investors like Richard Branson, DFJ Growth, Qualcomm, Kleiner Perkins, and Goldman Sachs, it was bought by Amazon for between $1 billion to $2 billion. Founder Jamie is now appearing on Shark Tank as an investor himself.
Hammer & Nails is the man cave where guys go to get groomed and pampered. Since getting turned down on the show, Hammer & Nails has become incredibly popular, with a growing franchise and prime locations from San Jose to Portland to Owings Mills, to Miami, Laguna Niguel, Hollywood, and Brooklyn.
Eco Nuts hit the Shark Tank with organic laundry detergent. Turned down for a 50% stake for $175,000, the brand which has expanded to a whole menu of conscious products is valued at close to $1 million. They’ve now been featured on Forbes, in the New York Time, MSNBC, Fox, USA Today, Huffington Post, CBS and Inc.
Despite already having over $800,000 in sales, the sharks turned down this startup on TV. That hasn’t stopped these founders. They’ve gone on to an estimated valuation of nearly $30 million. Xero now has a full range of boots, shoes and sandals and ship globally.
The Kang sisters turned down Mark Cuban’s offer to buy the company for $30 million. They got no other offers. Since then Coffee Meets Bagel has raised close to that across four funding rounds. Crunchbase reports that the dating startup has been growing at a rate of almost a quarter million downloads per month.
This startup’s founder appeared on Shark Tank twice. It’s now believed to be doing tens of millions of dollars in revenue, and you’ve probably passed its iconic shaped packaging in one if the 13,000 plus retail locations it is featured at today.
Premium flower delivery service Bouqs is known for its farm fresh, sustainable flowers. Since Shark Tank it has raised $43 million, through a Series C round. The Tank’s Robert Herjavec has since participated alongside other notable VCs.
Sustainable eyewear startup Proof has gone on to sell its expanding line in at least 20 countries since its appearance on Shark Tank. The founders say that every time their episode reruns on TV they see a boost in sales. According to the Idaho Statesman, the startup is doing millions in sales and remains debt free.
5 Quick Takeaways from Life After Shark Tank
1. It Can Take a Lot of Rejections to Get Funded
Entrepreneurs shouldn’t take it hard that they are turned down by a tiny panel of investors like on these TV shows. Some of the best startups have had to cope with hundreds of investor rejections before raising millions and selling their companies for over a billion dollars. You just won’t see that success unless you can walk from rejection to rejection without losing your confidence.
I have the pleasure of interviewing some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the DealMakers Podcast. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Hix from Plated. They appeared on the show and did receive an investment from Mark Cuban. However, Plated got over 200 investor rejections outside of the show before they were acquired for $300 million (listen to the full podcast episode here).
2. Many Startups do Just Fine without Outside Funding
The tips from the sharks and attention can be just as, if not far more valuable than the funding they could offer. There can be advantages to raising money. Some types of ventures really need it. Racing to scale and being able to buy up market share can make all the difference. Yet, sooner or later businesses do need to be profitable. That can actually be a lot easier if you have a profitable business model early on. Then you can choose to bootstrap of have the ability to negotiate funding terms from a power position.
3. It Is All About Storytelling
The entrepreneurs that end up receiving funding are those that have been able to master the art of storytelling so that investors get it. This is mainly done by having a pitch deck that captures the essence of the business and where things are heading. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash. Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here).
4. Not Everyone Will See the Opportunity
Not even super smart, very experienced investors with influence over the outcome will always see the opportunity and value. That doesn’t mean it is a bad business or idea. Keep going.
5. There is No Such Thing as Bad Press
There can be really bad press which can be expensive for brands to fix. Yet, the vast majority of the time, even things like being slammed on Shark Tank aren’t nearly as damaging as you think. There are two things which startups need the most – visibility and credibility. So, it’s worth putting yourself out there, even if it’s uncomfortable and you don’t know what reception you’ll get.
Of course, there are great benefits of getting funded on TV shows like Shark Tank. Yet, funded on TV or not, there are plenty of perks from this type of visibility and validation.