From Big Ideas to Big Flops: Shark Tank’s Most Epic Failures

When entrepreneurs pitch their businesses on the hit ABC show Shark Tank, they have the chance to receive funding and widespread publicity. 

Products pitched on the show have gone on to achieve great success.

However, not every contestant has had the same level of accomplishment. 

There have been plenty of Shark Tank fails…

Shark Tank Failures

Let’s take a look at undercooked business ideas by some Shark Tank contestants.

And some brilliant ones that the sharks probably regret passing up on….

Shark Tank Failures From The Iconic Show 

Three65 Underwear 

three65 underwear

William Strange appeared on the program and promoted an underwear subscription service. 

He accepted offers from Janine Allis and Naomi Simson, who handed him $60,000 for 25% of his business.

However, once the cameras stopped rolling, everything shifted.

Strange was simultaneously pursuing not one but two separate entrepreneurial projects. 

The Sharks had forewarned him that a decision between the two would have to be made, and he ultimately heeded their advice. 

He realized that he could not accept Janine and Naomi’s investment and still maintain his integrity as the founder of the company.

Hy-Conn 

shark tank failures hy-conn

Emotions and business can’t go together.

And that was the rub for Hy-Conn, which has persisted in business success despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

Hy-Conn designed a simple, effective method of connecting garden hoses to hydrants.

It’s a novel concept, even for the fire department. 

Due to this, Mark Cuban placed a large wager on the company, offering $1.25 million.

However, it seems that founder Jeff Stroope had an argument with Cuban about halfway through the venture. 

Like a child having a temper tantrum, Stroope complained on Facebook about the investor’s ego and how it had ruined a potential business partnership. 

According to reports, the issue started when the connector design was licensed.

Although it was featured as one of Shark Tank’s biggest busts, the company is still in business.

Throx 

throx shark tank failures

Each of us has probably misplaced a sock at some point.

It’s a typical issue, but we don’t tend to lose socks every day. 

Throx’s designers, however, decided it would be worthwhile to try to address this issue.

What is their plan of action? Promote bundles with three socks instead of two.

It’s like having an emergency sock on hand. 

Once again, the entrepreneurs on “Shark Tank” saw myriad problems with this proposal. 

The first is that nobody actually loses that many socks that they require a new pair for every pair they own.

The second is that a spare sock would be a waste of storage space if you don’t plan on using it anytime soon.

ToyGaroo 

shark tank failures toygaroo

There has always been a space for renting out goods.

This got online popularity with the advent of Netflix and its competitors.

ToyGaroo aimed to achieve something similar in the toy industry. 

Each month, the company will provide a new set of toys for customers to choose from, ensuring that kids always have something exciting to play with.

The sharks couldn’t agree more that it was a fantastic plan.

A toy is unlikely to be played with for more than a few weeks; therefore, this service could be helpful for families.

Cuban and O’Leary made an offer of $200,000 for 35% ownership of the business.

The company filed for bankruptcy in 2016, so the operation clearly failed. 

O’Leary and Cuban both claim that their failures may be traced back to their earlier successes in various interviews and articles. 

The service was discontinued because its proprietors could not keep up with the soaring demand.

Xero Shoes 

xero shoes

New technology for Xero Shoes was developed by Steven Sashen and Lena Phoenix.

They didn’t use excessive padding since they figured their running shoes would provide adequate support while still giving them the “barefoot” experience.

When the two presented their enticing offer to the Sharks, Kevin agreed to give them the money they sought in exchange for half of the company.

The two thought it was unfair, so they backed out. 

The company made $2.5 million in the following year thanks to a surge in sales after they left.

In the end, they made it out just fine by rejecting that lousy offer.

ShowNo Towels 

showno towels

ShowNo Towels’ unfortunate chain of decisions, outcomes, and contract renegotiations warrants a closer look.

It was not only a terrible business in general but also one of the worst Shark Tank bombs. 

There was a deafening silence as this idea crumbled.

This was a ShowNo Towel, and it’s designed to look like a poncho. 

There was a hole right in the middle for you to put your head through.

Conceptually, it was simple to use, and the whole body could be dried in one go.

Shark Lori Greiner made a proposal to company founder Shelly Ehler.

In the beginning, she was only willing to invest $75,000 in exchange for a 25% stake in the company. 

But Greiner made a sudden and significant adjustment to his strategy.

She warned Ehler not to deposit the check the following day after receiving it. 

Soon after, she approached Ehler again, this time requesting 70% ownership.

The deal’s financial resources were reduced by Greiner when Ehler rejected the radical shift.

ShowNo Towels had to hit a sales target in order to seal a deal with Disney, on top of everything that went down with Greiner. 

When the company didn’t get what it sought, Disney withdrew its offer. As a result of these setbacks, business operations were halted.

But Ehler kept working on the towels.

She took up Show-No Towels three years after the company had closed after settling a few concerns. 

Disabled people were the focus this time around because that is a market in which the company has had more success.

Greiner, on the other hand, declined to take part in this revamp.

Echo Valley Meats 

shark tank failures echo valley meats

David Alwan came up with Echo Valley Meats.

An avid carnivore, he came on Season 4 in the hopes of striking a deal with one of the investors. 

The sharks all enjoyed the meat samples he served, but they did not appreciate his pitch. 

They didn’t think David Alwan had what it took to be successful in the industry.

His company concept was too vague, so they turned him down. 

Soon after the episode of Shark Tank aired, he gave them a chance to join the $1.4 million business.

It turns out the sharks were mistaken. 

Wired Waffles 

wired waffles

Everything about Wired Waffles was flawed, starting with the idea itself, making it one of the most infamous Shark Tank flops. 

Although straightforward in concept, the final product fell short of expectations.

These morning waffles were infused with caffeine to get you going faster in the morning.

This would eliminate the need for people to waste time brewing coffee.

But whoever can’t brew coffee in under five minutes definitely can’t cook waffles, either.

Nonetheless, this wasn’t one of the numerous issues that the sharks found with the concept.

Wired Waffles looked like regular Waffles, leading some kids to eat them accidentally. Additionally, the project’s originality couldn’t be safeguarded in any way, as it is impossible to patent an ingredient. 

Plus, the waffle and coffee pairing tasted terrible, which did nothing to pique customers’ interest.

The fact that Wired Waffles hardly moved off the ground before appearing on the show was the last major stumbling block for the concept. 

In light of these factors, the sharks refrained from making any deals at all.

They proved to be correct when Wired Waffled shut down shortly thereafter.

Body Jac

shark tank failures body jac

There is some mystery surrounding the reasons behind the most catastrophic failures on Shark Tank.

Body Jac was a product like this; it certainly worked, but it failed to find widespread success in the marketplace.

Cactus Jack Barringer is one of the rare business owners who are ready to make such a strong case for such a product. 

The Body Jac was an exercise device that facilitated work for those who lacked athleticism. 

Before agreeing to a settlement, Barbara Corcoran insisted that Barringer demonstrate the product’s effectiveness.

As promised, Barringer shed 30 pounds and was rewarded with $1.8 million and a 50% stake in the company.

Nonetheless, the company failed for reasons that were never discussed. 

Almost immediately after its 2012 introduction, the product was pulled from shelves.

That Shark Tank deal, according to Barbara Corcoran, was the worst one she ever made.

Coffee Meets Bagel 

shark tank failures coffee meets bagel

While the Coffee Meets Bagel episode may have ended in disappointment, the story is more optimistic than you may think.

Though considered a Shark Tank failure, it’s one proposal that did well afterward. 

Three sisters, Dawoon, Soo, and Arum Kang, developed a system that uses mutual connections on Facebook to pair potential romantic partners. 

Each day, the app finds a suitable companion.

If the proposal is accepted, the participants will also receive a coupon good for a discounted appointment.

The sisters started working on the project in New York City in 2012, but they didn’t approach Shark Tank until 2015. 

They weren’t really broke, but they were looking for funding so they could expand.

They were not just successful; they smashed every goal set for them.

The sisters only requested $500,000 for the undertaking and provided 5% ownership in return.

But Mark Cuban saw the potential in the concept and made an offer of $30 million to buy out the entire company. 

Because they were unable to come to terms, the sisters simply stopped appearing on the program.

Coffee Meets Bagel is alive and well and operating at its peak today. With over 10 million daily users, the app has generated over $23.2 million.

Breathometer 

Breathometer shark tank failures

The Breathometer is meant to let anyone check their blood alcohol level with a smartphone and a portable device. 

On paper, the concept seemed like a real show-stopper, to the point where Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Mark Cuban, and Kevin O’Leary all offered $1 million each. 

The Breathometer company’s original creator, Charles Michael Yim, was only required to give up 30% of the company’s equity.

When it was discovered that the product was flawed, everything began to unravel.

Customers complained that the Breathometer’s results weren’t reliable. In some cases, the indicated value was much lower than the actual results. 

People who used the device in the hopes of avoiding alcohol-related driving issues were put in danger.

That’s why they recalled everything and gave customers their money back.

Cuban claimed this to be one of the show’s most disastrous losses.

He then accused Yim of embezzling money. 

The Breathometer may have been a commercial failure, but that didn’t stop the company from staying in business. 

As a matter of fact, it is still operational, albeit with different products.

They have fully abandoned the monitoring of BAC levels.

Proof Eyewear 

proof eyewear

Unlike other eyewear brands, each pair of Proof Eyewear glasses is created by hand.

Eco-friendly wood is used in the production of these products. 

This business was spearheaded by Brooks Dame.

He and his two brothers went on the show to try to raise money to expand their line of sustainable eyeglasses.

To win over new clients, the company relies on eco-friendly materials like oak frames and polymers made from plants. 

O’Leary offered to contribute $150,000 if the founders handed him 25% ownership in the company plus royalties.

Because of the royalties, the brothers declined his offer.

They were not satisfied with any of the Sharks’ proposals and ultimately decided not to accept any of them.

The sharks’ decision to pass on investing in the company turned out to be a catastrophic failure as the venture eventually expanded to 20 nations and became a household name.

They made $2.5 million in sales in a single year, and business is booming.

CATEapp 

CATEapp shark tank failures

CATEapp allows its users to permanently delete their text messages, making it impossible for their partners to see their private conversations. 

After hearing a friend complain about his unfaithful wife, creator, and owner Neil Desai had this idea.

The company saw an influx of customers as a result of the app’s popularity.

In spite of the app’s early stability, it eventually became problematic owing to bugs that exposed sensitive data. 

Unfortunately, it turned out to be an unremarkable invention that couldn’t hold its own against other apps of its kind. 

Some users were even able to circumvent its safeguards, demonstrating how simple it was to spy on someone.

Sweet Ballz

sweet ballz

All the sharks were impressed by Sweet Ballz, a cake ball company, thanks to the company’s polished pitch and delicious samples. 

Its unexpected downfall might be traced down to a conflict between co-founders Cole Egger and James McDonald. 

McDonald filed suit against Egger for starting Cake Ballz without his permission.

When McDonald and his partner both sought restraining orders against each other, McDonald ultimately prevailed in court. 

As a result, Egger shut down Cake Ballz, and McDonald launched a new venture called Sweet Ballz.

The fight was detrimental to both business owners, and it resulted in a missed Shark Tank opportunity to expand their customer base and boost sales. 

Wannabe business owners who are considering a partnership can gain valuable insight from this whole ordeal.

Squirrel Boss 

squirrel boss

Michael Desanti unveiled his invention, the Squirrel Boss, a remote-controlled bird feeder that, when activated, sends out an electric shock to deter squirrels and other rodents. 

Before the company’s founder presented his idea on Shark Tank, he spent at least two years refining its form and function.

Even though the sharks had no idea what they were getting into with Desanti’s product, they were intrigued by its novelty. 

The number of complaints on Amazon began to outnumber the praises.

Desanti shut down his company because of poor financial performance and the loss of a potential partnership with a shark.

YouSmellSoap 

you smell soap

Robert Hejavec made an offer to Megan Cummings’s business, which is called YouSmellSoap, a luxury soap company. 

He offered her $5,000 with 50% ownership, but she turned him down.

It was getting heated because Cummings still wouldn’t budge.

Limited contact between Cummings and Hejavec over a period of six months is indicative of a lack of rapport between an investor and business owner. 

Not being able to put aside their differences, they were unable to come to an agreement.

Cummings kept running YouSmellSoap after appearing on Shark Tank, eventually teaming up with another investor. 

Although she was able to find a buyer for the company, it failed after the acquisition of the company was finalized.

Chef Big Shake 

chef big shake - shark tank failures

Shawn Davis went on the show to get funding to launch his new shrimp burger.

The inspiration for this business came from his daughter, who was trying to avoid all meats except seafood. 

Davis made a fair offer, which was $200,000 for 25% ownership.

Sharks turned down the offer because vegetarianism wasn’t mainstream in 2011.

As far as they were concerned, investing in food was a high-risk venture.

Investors from outside the show approached Davis with a $500,000 offer after the Shark Tank episode aired.

Due to the influx of funds, the franchise is now thriving like never before. 

Davis’s firm’s annual revenue increased from $30,000 to over $5 million.+.

They added some new seafood dishes to the menu as well.

Mark Cuban said he regrets not putting money into the business earlier.

NoPhone

shark tank failures nophone

The NoPhone concept is so preposterous that it sounds like a lousy TV joke.

The concept creators envisioned mass-producing and selling a chunk of wood fashioned to look like a smartphone.

Which brings us to the question: why?

Apparently, the objective was to get folks off their phones for a while. 

In theory, holding something that simulates a phone should relieve their anxiety.

This product was meant to be the smartphone version of a stress ball. 

No sharks made any kind of offer.

They even questioned how the production could have ever picked them to be in the show.

Original Man Candle 

the original man candle

If there are still goods marketed solely to men or women, then gender equality cannot exist.

Candles appear to be one of them. 

Johnson Bailey, the inventor of the Original Man Candle, considered burning scented candles to be stereotypically feminine.

This is why he developed a line of masculine-scented candles.

If the fragrance options were more promising, the product might not have fared as poorly on Shark Tank. 

Bailey thought that words like “beer,” “barbecue,” and “flatulence” evoked images of masculinity.

Making that decision turned off potential backers, which was a huge mistake.

Doorbot 

shark tank failures doorbot

In season 5, Jamie Siminoff met the legendary sharks.

He needed $700,000 to launch his plan for a video doorbell system.

The original name of the business was Doorbot, but the company eventually became known as Ring Doorbell.

Kevin O’Leary agreed to the terms, but only after receiving a 10% revenue share and a 5% equity ownership in the company.

O’Leary turned down Siminoff’s counteroffer.

The agreement fell through, and Siminoff had to walk away. 

When Amazon purchased Doorbot from Siminoff for $1 billion, it was rebranded as Ring, and the sharks missed out. Oof.

Coatchex

shark tank failures coatchex

This company created a wardrobe system that can pair a person’s face with their coat.

Despite Mark Cuban’s belief that the company had potential, he ultimately decided against accepting the terms owner Derek Pacque had presented.

His offer to Pacque was for $200,000 in exchange for a 33% share of the business.

Pacque declined Cuban’s proposal. 

Cuban countered by offering him the whole amount of the required investment in exchange for a larger stake in the business.

Once more, Derk turned down the offer.

Eventually, Coatchex secured large contracts for high-end events and expanded into a multimillion-dollar enterprise.

I’m pretty sure the sharks weren’t too happy about this. 

What We Can Learn From These Shark Tank Failures 

Work with someone you trust. 

work with someone you trust

Shark Tank participants tend to do better if they work in pairs.

Partnerships had a 21% better chance of closing a deal than individuals did, and their companies were valued 22% higher on average.

Working with someone is often a good move for an entrepreneur.

It’s tempting to just run with the plan you came up with all on your own, but you’ll have far more luck if you solicit feedback from people you trust and respect.

Sociological research backs up the theory of added value or the increased profitability that might result from working together.

Avoid losing an investor by being realistic about your percentage. 

Shark Tank hopefuls sometimes fall short of their promises while placing a high value on their businesses. 

They lack the track record to demonstrate that they can keep growing without financing from a shark.

They also haven’t put enough effort into honing their business strategies.

A shark will either raise the percentage or reject your pitch if they don’t think your company is worth a substantial investment. 

It would be advisable to pay attention to an expert who has a track record of giving good advice.

Know what your business idea is worth so you can anticipate the kind of deals you’re likely to be offered.

Failure is normal. Use rejection as a stepping stone towards success. 

failure is normal use rejection as a stepping stone towards success

Even worse than having a bad proposal shot down is having a terrific idea shot down because of poor communication.

Still, setbacks are unfortunately common. 

The first thing to do when faced with rejection is to do an in-depth analysis of where you went wrong.

If the company’s central premise is faulty, you must decide whether to try to correct it or pivot to a new line of thinking. 

If you were unable to convince investors or convey your ideas clearly, you should revise your pitch and give it another attempt. 

If you feel like you’ve done everything possible to impress the investor, but they still aren’t interested, it may be time to look elsewhere.

Get a healthy dose of optimism. 

Optimism trumps intelligence as the most valuable trait in business.

Being overly logical can cause one to miss out on several prospects. 

For many entrepreneurs, meditating first thing in the morning is the key to a productive day.

You have to become optimistic beyond all rationality if you are going to be a great entrepreneur. 

Shark Corcoran’s philosophy suggests that you must maintain a positive outlook even if others around you fail to perceive any silver lining in the cloudy situation.

Listen more. 

shark tank failures listen more

O’Leary believes that women are naturally more attentive listeners because of social norms. 

This is a vital skill for anyone in a leadership position, but more so when it comes to managing staff and fostering their development for the benefit of the company. 

It’s a skill that can be honed by focusing on it, and it’s not restricted to a specific gender.

Learn to take in criticism in a healthy way. 

Several candidates leave the show in tears because of the severe criticism they received from the Shark Tank investors.

There is realism behind this drama, even though part of it has been exaggerated.

It all points to one key lesson: It’s better to get honest criticism up front than to invest more time and money in a project that won’t work. 

Making the necessary changes to achieve success might also result from absorbing constructive feedback and not getting too emotional.

Don’t pursue a business idea if it ends up making you unhappy. 

dont pursue a business idea if it ends up making your unhappy

The most important lesson in business, and one that should be learned early on, is that if your work is making you miserable, it generally isn’t worth it.

A rejection of Shark Tank occasionally spares someone from years of futile work.

Money and contentment are not equal, as the shark investors have noted. 

Making less money than others can make some people happy than those who earn more. 

Finding the type of work that makes you happy can take some time, but for the most part, we can usually tell what doesn’t.

Only go into mutual benefit deals. 

The Sharks frequently say that they won’t invest in something because they don’t have the contacts or background to support the company. 

When seeking investors, strive to locate people who can be more than just a financial source to you. 

Ensure that all parties contribute value in any arrangement, whether it involves venture capital or not.

Remember, a one-sided deal will reflect poorly on you.

It’s impossible to overprepare. 

shark tank failures it's impossible to overprepare

On the show, there are certain business owners that appear to freeze in the middle of their pitch. 

When you go to a meeting or make a pitch, practice sufficiently so that you can talk about your business even under pressure. 

Please be sure to understand your finances.

Those who are most successful tend to prepare and prepare some more.

Naturally, the most successful Shark Tank pitches are those that have been put together well.

Final Thoughts 

Shark Tank can be as instructive as it is fun to watch.

There are valuable tidbits offered in any given episode regarding the inner workings of financing, pitching, and even product development.

Aspiring entrepreneurs with fresh business ideas can learn a thing to two from some of Shark Tank’s biggest failures.

We should all take in knowledge anywhere we can get it!

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Brooks Conkle Banner Image
Brooks Conkle

Brooks is an entrepreneur, father, husband, & follower of the golden rule. He has over 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur after graduating with a Finance degree from Auburn University. Addicted to starting new business projects, he believes in creating multiple income streams and a life of flexibility. Business should work around your life, not the other way around. He creates content on his website, sharing his projects to help other hustlers in marketing, personal finance, and online business.