Shark Tank is arguably the most popular business reality TV show that offers entrepreneurs a way to raise money and get publicity. Though fans of the show are eager for every company to succeed, they can’t all be winners! While products like Scrub Daddy and Bombas have been hugely successful, others have crashed and burned. Below we cover some of the biggest failures in Shark Tank history.
10 Shark Tank Products That Failed:
The Breathometer was the first retail breathalyzer for smartphones. It monitored the blood alcohol content of users through an app and physical device.
Serial entrepreneur Charles Yim developed the product and took it to Shark Tank in season five, asking for $250,000 for 10% equity. He delivered one of the more memorable pitches and all the Sharks wanted a piece of the startup.
On a rare occasion, all five Sharks agreed to split $1 million for 30%. Once the deal closed problems started to pop up. Breathometer made $5.1 million in lifetime sales but the product got shut down in 2017 after being charged by the FTC with false advertising. Cuban called it his worst deal on Shark Tank and blamed Charles for the bad execution of a great idea.
Next on the list is iCapsulate, which is notorious for clinching the biggest deal in Shark Tank history at the time. The company was a biodegradable coffee pod manufacturer.
It was founded by Kane Bodiam, who already had a record of misleading business conduct before going on television. He appeared on the third season of Shark Tank Australia, seeking $2.5 million for a 15% equity stake.
Three Sharks took a bite, but Andrew Banks won with a bid of $2.5 million for 22.5%. He didn’t close it after discovering that iCapsulate wasn’t in any of the major retail chains and the $4 million annual sales wasn’t accurate. iCapsulate went into administration in 2018.
HyConn is a super fast connector for fire hydrants and garden hoses that attaches with ease. Fireman Jeff Stroope invented it after realizing that connecting the hose to a fire hydrant took too long and was potentially costing lives.
He entered the Tank in season two, hoping to get $500,000 for 40% of his business. Mark Cuban offered to buy 100% of the company for $1.25 million and Jeff accepted.
However, the deal was never finalized as Cuban apparently wanted to license the product and Jeff opposed that channel. Hyconn was able to raise capital with another investor but struggled to generate consistent sales. HyConn went out of business in 2019 without even making any significant revenue.
Toygaroo was once dubbed “The Netflix of Toys” and offered a subscription service that allowed parents to rent different toys. It seemed like a great idea and the business model looked promising for a while.
Five people founded the business, but Nikki Pope was the face of the brand. She was the one who pitched the startup in season two and offered 10% equity for $100,000.
Cuban and O’Leary teamed up to invest $200,000 for 40%. Toygaroo grew too quickly and wasn’t able to keep up with customer demand. Too many partners were involved and didn’t have a strategy to successfully scale operations. Toygaroo filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and was one of the show’s first big failures.
Making travel easier was the mission of Trunkster, a smart suitcase packed with a lot of features. This includes a charging station, GPS system, digital scale, removable batteries, and more.
Trunkster was created by Gaston Blanchet and a friend he met on a trip, Jesse Potash. The two joined the show in season seven, seeking to raise $1.4 million for 5%.
Mark and Lori took a gamble on Trunkster with $1.4 million for 15% but the deal didn’t close after the show. Trunkster had $1.5 million in pre-orders on Kickstarter but didn’t fulfill most of them. The company struggled with manufacturing and went out of business. Angry customers left in the cold discussed launching a class-action lawsuit against the business.
6. Minus Cal
Minus Cal’s protein bars had an interesting take on weight loss. The founders claimed the healthy snack item could block fat absorption with a green tea extract called Choleve.
The people behind the product were Crom Carmichael, a political commentator, and Barrett Jacques, a musician. They pitched the product on season 11 of Shark Tank, asking for $500,000 for 20%.
However, the Sharks were skeptical of the claims and none of them were interested in investing. Minus Cal didn’t make any substantial sales as customers had no confidence in their product. Minus Cal is now defunct as of July 2020.
7. Sweet Ballz
Sweet Ballz are tasty spheres covered in icing that was a fun twist to a well-known food item. The business was founded by a pastry-loving duo named James McDonald and Cole Egger. They were featured in Shark Tank season five and offered 10% equity for $250,000.
Mark and Barbara Corcoran closed a deal of $250,000 for 25%. However, James and Cole had a bitter falling out which resulted in a lawsuit. McDonald sued his partner as he believed Egger was creating a similar brand called Cake Ballz. This got so bad a restraining order had to be issued.
The lawsuit caused them to miss out on a big opportunity and failed to capitalize on the hype from Shark Tank. The lawsuit has been settled and Sweet Ballz is back in business but not performing well. McDonald only runsSweet Ballz as a side hobby and Cake Ballz is gone.
8. Body Jac
Pushups are one of the most popular forms of exercise, but they’re difficult to perform. For this, you can use the Body Jac pushup aid to help you work out easily.
The exercise tool was made by Jack Barringer, who struggled to lose weight in the past. Jack appeared on Shark Tank way back in season one, seeking to raise $180,000 for a 20% stake.
Body Jac struck a deal with Barbara and Kevin Harrington investing $180,000 for 50% For undisclosed reasons, Body Jac closed down in early 2013 and Barbara labeled it one of her worst ever deals. Cactus Jack currently runs a marketing company.
9. You Smell Soap
You Smell Soap was a premium soap brand noted for its vintage-inspired packaging. These organic soap products were also filled with antioxidants and vitamin E.
Megan Cummins was inspired to start the business after a college class exercise. While at the pre-venture stage, Megan appeared in season 3, looking for $55,000 for 20% equity.
Robert Herjavec initially offered what she asked for and included a $50,000 annual salary to sweeten the deal. Robert reportedly changed the deal after the show and wanted 50% of the company which Megan refused. You Smell Soap was later sold to an unnamed investor in 2014 but closed down two years later.
10. ShowNo Towels
A combination of towels and ponchos, ShowNo Towels were towels with an opening in the middle. They are typically useful for helping kids change in various public areas.
The product was invented by Shelly Ehler, a creative businesswoman and a mother of two. ShowNo Towels was featured on the show in season three and asked for $50,000 for 25%.
Lori Greiner gave her a $50,000 check but told her not to cash it. However, Shelly tried to cash it the next day. After completing due diligence, Lori wanted 70% instead of the original 25%. Shelly rejected and Lori loaned the money instead.
Despite their rocky relationship, Lori helped get a deal with Disney but it didn’t work out as the profits margin was too low. Another deal fell through with Franco Manufacturing which was the final nail in the coffin. Lori and Shelly’s rocky relationship wasn’t sustainable and ShowNo Towels ceased trading in 2016. Shelly briefly brought the business back to life in 2018 but closed up shop again in 2020.