Charles Yim made history on Shark Tank and secured an investment from all five Sharks! Breathometer was a device that claimed to measure a user’s blood alcohol content using a smartphone. However, the app was shut down by the FTC and the company is worth $0 as of 2023. They later pivoted to oral health and weight loss.
A Lifelong Entrepreneur
Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Charles Michael Yim is a lifelong entrepreneur. He has a degree in business economics from the University of California. Straight out of college, Charles interned at Cintas Corporation and worked in business development for Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Chatterfly was his first startup, a mobile loyalty rewards platform. The company was acquired by Plum District for a cool $30 million in 2011. With this, he became the vice president of mobile operations for Plum District and left after ten months to start Breathometer.
He spotted an early opportunity in the booming ICO crypto market and founded Cointopia. The firm raised $3 million but shut down a year later.
Yim discovered that there were no commercial breathalyzers available for smartphones. These devices are useful for determining whether someone is safe to drive after having a drink. Typically portable breathalyzers were pricey and difficult for people to carry around.
In 2012, he developed an app that claimed to read blood alcohol content. The serial entrepreneur started a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo and raised over $140,000 to build the product.
He then had beta trials in Austin, Texas, during the SXSW Music Festival. After that, Charles officially released the product and sold it online and in physical locations.
Appearing on Shark Tank
A year after founding Breathometer, Yim appeared on season five of Shark Tank seeking $250,000 for 10% equity. Valuing the early stage startup at $2.5 million.
Charles made a strong start by handing out glasses of champagne. He gave a confident pitch and gave convincing answers to questions. Lori also tested the device. All the Sharks were interested and a bidding war soon broke out.
Mark Cuban was the first to make an offer, then Kevin O’Leary countered. Kevin then teamed up with Robert Herjavec and Lori Greiner. Daymond John also made a solo offer. In the end, they all agreed to invest $1 million and split the 30% equity equally.
Update After Shark Tank
The Breathometer received a huge amount of attention from appearing on the show. Not long after it aired, CEO Charles Yim was getting tens of thousands of orders and made $1 million in 2013.
This helped him launch a bluetooth-compatible breathalyzer called “The Breeze” and was sold in various Best Buy and Brookstone locations. “The Breeze” and the original app made $5.1 million in revenue.
Unfortunately, in 2017, the FTC found Yim’s app to be unreliable and made false claims in their marketing. The app was shut down and Breathometer is now one of the biggest failures in Shark Tank history. The FTC also ordered customers to be notified and offered full refunds.
Despite the setback, Breathometer launched a new product called Mint which focuses on oral health. On their website, the buy now button leads to a broken page so it appears the company is inactive. Mint is no longer available to buy on Amazon.
Mark Cuban called it his worst investment on Shark Tank and blamed the founder for the company’s terrible execution. Cuban didn’t like Charles’ party lifestyle and he essentially over promised and under delivered. Currently, Charles Yim is an angel investor at Sync.VC.