15 of the Most Successful Products from Shark Tank

ABC
ABC

Since premiering in 2009, Shark Tank has made a business out of making businesses. The highly-rated ABC series permits entrepreneurs to pitch their product ideas to a panel of potential investors that includes Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, “Queen of QVC” Lori Greiner, and acerbic Kevin O’Leary. Good products find encouragement and investment capital; questionable inventions face withering scorn and a long walk back to the dressing room.

Of the hundreds of items to be featured on the show, a relatively small percentage go on to success. (Many deals, in fact, dry up during the due diligence stage.) Here are 15 of the most successful to come out of the Tank, including several that failed to entice the “Sharks” but still managed to make it big.

1. KODIAK CAKES

A model holds up a box of Kodiak Cakes pancake mix
Kodiak Cakes

It can be hard to break the habit people have reaching for Bisquick pancake mix, but Utah-based Kodiak Cakes is making an impressive effort in that direction. The flour-based mix—which adds more whole grains and protein than your average grocery store offering—was featured on the show in 2013, with owner Joel Clark walking away empty-handed. (He didn’t want to give up more than 10 percent equity.) Bolstered by the attention and supported by health-conscious carb lovers, the company recorded $54 million in revenue in 2017 and is now the fourth largest pancake mix on shelves. You can also find their premade waffles and pancakes in freezer aisles. 

2. READEREST

A model demonstrates the ReadeRest eyeglass clip
ReadeRest

Rick Hopper, a former supervisor at Home Depot, had his eureka moment in 2010 when he found himself misplacing his reading glasses. That frustration led to ReadeREST (“reader rest”), a magnetic pocket filler that allows glasses-wearers to clip their spectacles to their shirt when not in use. Unlike glasses kept loose in a pocket, the clip prevents them from slipping out and crashing to the floor when a person bends over. Hopper accepted an offer from Greiner and subsequently sold $100,000 in product the first time it appeared on QVC. They’ve since done over $27 million in sales.

3. COUSINS MAINE LOBSTER

Cousins Maine Lobster co-founders pose for a photo with Queen Latifah
Cousins Maine Lobster

Hoping to bring an authentic Maine lobster roll experience to the West Coast, cousins Sabin Lomac and Jim Tselikis started their Cousins Maine Lobster food truck in Los Angeles in 2012. That success captured the interest of Shark Tank producers, who invited the two on the show. Shark Barbara Corcoran invested a total of $55,000, which helped facilitate a growing number of the trucks and led to total sales in excess of $20 million. Consumers outside of their vehicle reach can also order live, claw-snapping Maine lobsters from their website.

4. GROOVEBOOK

A screen shot that explains how the GrooveBook app works
GrooveBook

Print isn’t dead—at least, not print-on-demand. GrooveBook, an app that allows users to flag social media photos and request physical prints as part of a customized photo book, appeared on season five of Shark Tank and scored a deal with Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary. Prior to their appearance, owners Julie and Brian Whiteman had about 18,000 paid subscribers. Following the broadcast, that number rose to 500,000. In 2015, the company sold for $14.5 million to Shutterfly.

5. SQUATTY POTTY

The Squatty Potty sits next to a toilet
Squatty Potty

A plastic stool meant to facilitate more efficient emptying of the colon, the Squatty Potty made a splash when it was featured on the show in 2014. The company moved than $1 million in product in the 24 hours following broadcast—that was in addition to Greiner’s $500,000 investment. In 2016, the company topped $30 million sales. Creator Bobby Edwards cites his chronically constipated mother, Judy, as being the inspiration.

6. GRACE AND LACE

A model wears a knee and boot accessory from Grace and Lace
Grace and Lace

A 2013 appearance and $175,000 investment by Corcoran led to this women’s accessory business owned by couple Rick and Melissa Hinnant growing from $1 million to over $20 million in sales. The expedited success left the owners scrambling to fill sock orders, which was met with some consternation by customers unhappy with the delays. (“I’m going to burn them,” wrote one impatient buyer.) Most of their orders come via their website, though they have a growing presence in boutique stores.

7. BUBBA’S Q

A bottle of Bubba's Q barbeque sauce sits next to a plate of ribs
Bubba's Q

Former NFL player Al “Bubba” Baker pitched his Bubba’s Q boneless ribs to the Tank in 2014, with Shark Daymond John seeing potential in Baker’s signature meat-and-sauce combination and agreeing to invest $300,000 for a 30 percent stake. The company went from doing $154,000 in sales prior to the show to $16 million in 2017. The ribs can be found online, in Costco, on QVC, and were also featured as part of a Carl’s Jr. menu. Baker owns patents on his process, making him the only person able to sell a deboned and cooked rib.

8. TIPSY ELVES

Models sport holiday sweaters from Tipsy Elves
Tipsy Elves

Ugly holiday sweaters might appear to belong only on thrift store shelves, but Tipsy Elves co-founders Nick Morton and Evan Mendelsohn managed to convince Shark Robert Herjavec to invest $100,000 for a 10 percent stake in their business during a 2013 appearance. Peddling the clothing—which feature hideously charming or charmingly hideous designs, depending on your perspective—has paid off for everyone, with sales exceeding $10 million in 2015. Three days before taping the show, Mendelsohn went to Panda Express and found a curious prediction in his fortune cookie: “An investment opportunity will find you.”

9. RING

A Ring doorbell is mounted outside of a house
Ring

The doorbell-camera hybrid Ring recently sold to Amazon for $1.1 billion, but during a 2013 appearance, CEO James Siminoff faced a lineup of Sharks who could barely keep their eyes open. (Only one, O’Leary, even bothered to make an offer.) Mark Cuban later stated that he would decline the opportunity again if given the chance, citing a high valuation as a stumbling block. The Amazon sale also paid off for Shaquille O’Neal, who agreed to be a pitchman for the product in 2016 in exchange for equity.

10. BEDJET

A BedJet device sits next to a mattress
BedJet

Few entrepreneurs have flamed out as spectacularly as former NASA employee Mark Aramli, who appeared on a 2015 episode touting his BedJet, a climate-controlling mattress pad that allows users to adjust to their preferred temperature. The Sharks disagreed with his $2.5 million valuation and $499 price tag. Greiner later tweeted she was “pissed off” by his disposition. No one wanted to get in bed with him, but Aramli got the last laugh with $3 million in sales in the 18 months following the broadcast.

11. COPA DI VINO

A Copa di Vino wine glass is held up
Copa di Vino

It’s rare to score even one opportunity to make a product presentation on Shark Tank: Having two is almost unheard of. Copa Di Vino founder James Martin first appeared in 2011 with his idea for single-serve wine glasses that are sealed to maintain freshness. While he failed to find a partner, Martin still profited from the attention, going from $500,000 to $5 million in sales. That success led to a second invite in 2017. Again, the Sharks were less than fond of his brazen approach to negotiation. (He took sips from his own supply.) But Copa is still doing fine, selling 38 million cups through 2017.

12. SIMPLY FIT BOARD

A model demonstrates the Simply Fit exercise board
Amazon

Resembling something like a skateboard liberated from its wheels, the Simply Fit board is a core balance device meant to strengthen abdominal muscles. In a 2015 appearance, co-founders Gloria Hoffman and Linda Clark convinced Greiner that it was a wise investment, but Greiner felt she had to act fast: Without a patent, copycats would become a problem. Sales went from $575,000 to $9 million in a matter of months, with placement in Home Depot and Walmart locations.

13. CHEF BIG SHAKE

The exterior of the Chef Big Shake restaurant
Chef Big Shake

Who doesn’t crave a juicy, delicious shrimp burger? All the Sharks, apparently, as this seafood offering failed to entice any investment offers when Shawn Davis pitched it in 2012. The exposure quickly led to offscreen offers for funding, however, and his Chef Big Shake banner went from $30,000 to $5 million in sales thanks in part to an expanded menu of chicken, popcorn, and other items. Davis originally formulated the patty for his pescatarian daughter, who is currently back to eating meat.

14. SCRUB DADDY

A person holds up a Scrub Daddy kitchen sponge
Your Best Digs, Flickr // CC BY 2.0 // YourBestDigs

In what is likely the single biggest nonedible success story to emerge from Shark Tank, inventor Aaron Krause convinced Greiner to invest $200,000 in his smiley-faced sponge. (The mouth is good for cleaning utensils.) But the Scrub Daddy is more than just a vessel to tackle dried-on chili from pans: Rinsed under hot water, it gets pliable enough to use on counters. Run it under cold and it firms up to tackle baked-on messes. Through 2017, Krause has sold more than 10 million sponges and logged $50 million in sales.  

15. DROP STOP

The packaging for the Drop Stop car accessory
Amazon

Is it the greatest invention since the light bulb? Or at least the Snuggie? The Drop Stop is a foam-filled log that fits in the crack between a car seat and the center console. If a passenger drops their car keys or other items in the “Carmuda Triangle,” they will still be within easy reach. Co-founders Marc Newburger and Jeffrey Simon appeared on the show in 2012, secured a deal, and went on to sell 2.4 million Drop Stops for $24 million in revenue.

12 Festive Facts About A Christmas Story

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Which Oscar-winning star wanted to play Ralphie Parker's dad? Which actor went on to have a seedy career in the adult film industry? Can you really get your tongue stuck to a metal pole? On the 35th anniversary of A Christmas Story's debut, here are a few tidbits about the holiday classic to tide you over until TNT's 24-hour Christmas marathon.

1. JACK NICHOLSON WAS INTERESTED IN PLAYING RALPHIE'S DAD.

Though Jack Nicholson was reportedly offered the role of The Old Man Parker, and interested, casting—and paying—him would have meant doubling the budget. But director Bob Clark, who didn't know Nicholson was interested, said Darren McGavin was the perfect choice for the role.

2. IT OWES A DEBT TO PORKY'S.

What does Porky's—a raunchy 1980s teen sex comedy—have to do with a wholesome film like A Christmas Story? Bob Clark directed both: Porky's in 1982 and A Christmas Story in 1983. If Porky's hadn't given him the professional and financial success he needed, he wouldn't have been able to bring A Christmas Story to the big screen.

3. RALPHIE SAYS HE WANTS A RED RYDER BB GUN A LOT.

For anyone keeping count, Ralphie says he wants the Red Ryder BB Gun 28 times throughout the course of the movie. That's approximately once every three minutes and 20 seconds.

4. THESE DAYS, PETER BILLINGSLEY SPENDS HIS TIME BEHIND THE CAMERA.

Peter Billingsley, a.k.a. Ralphie, has been good friends with Vince Vaughn since they both appeared in a CBS Schoolbreak Special together in the early 1990s. He doesn't do much acting these days, though he has popped up in cameos (including one in Elf, another holiday classic). Instead, Billingsley prefers to spend his time behind the camera as a director and producer. He has done a lot of work with Vaughn and Jon Favreau, including serving as an executive producer on Iron Man (in which he also made a cameo).

5. YES, YOU CAN GET YOUR TONGUE STUCK ON A PIECE OF COLD METAL.

Mythbusters tested whether it was possible to get your tongue truly stuck on a piece of cold metal. Guess what? It is. So don't triple dog dare your best friend to try it.

6. ONE OF THE YOUNG ACTORS MOVED ON TO A CAREER IN ADULT FILMS.

Scott Schwartz, who played Flick (the kid who stuck his tongue to the frozen flagpole), spent several years working in the adult film industry. In 2000, he turned his attention back to mainstream films. His most recent role was as "Disco City Hot Dog Vendor" in the 2017 TV movie Vape Warz.

7. RALPHIE'S HOUSE IS NOW A MUSEUM.

Next time you're in Cleveland, you can visit the original house from the movie. It was sold on eBay in 2004 for $150,000. Collector Brian Jones bought the house and restored it to its movie glory and stocked it up with some of the original props from the film, including Randy's snowsuit.

8. THE IDEA FOR THE FILM CAME TO BOB CLARK WHILE HE WAS DRIVING TO PICK UP A DATE.

Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, and Ian Petrella in A Christmas Story (1983)
Warner Home Video

Director Bob Clark got the idea for the movie when he was driving to pick up a date. He heard Jean Shepherd on the radio doing a reading of his short story collection, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, which included some bits that eventually ended up in A Christmas Story. Clark said he drove around the block for an hour until the program ended (which his date was not too happy about).

9. IT PARTLY INSPIRED THE WONDER YEARS.

The Wonder Years was inspired in part by A Christmas Story. In fact, toward the very end of the series, Peter Billingsley even played one of Kevin Arnold's roommates.

10. YOU CAN STILL BUY A RED RYDER BB GUN.

The real Red Ryder BB Gun was first made in 1938 and was named after a comic strip cowboy. You can still buy it today for the low, low price of $39.99. But the original wasn't quite the same as the one in the movie; it lacked the compass and sundial that both the Jean Shepherd story and the movie call for. Special versions had to be made just for A Christmas Story.

11. THE LEG LAMP CAN ALSO BE YOURS.

Peter Billingsley and Melinda Dillon in A Christmas Story (1983)
Warner Home Video

While we're talking shopping: you know you want the leg lamp. Put it in your window! Be the envy of your neighbors! It's a Major Award! You can buy it on Amazon (there's a 40-inch version, as well as a 20-inch replica). If you're not feeling quite so flamboyant, they also make a nightlight version.

12. IT SPAWNED A TRIO OF SEQUELS.

A Christmas Story led to two little-talked-about sequels. The first one was a 1988 made-for-TV movie, Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss. Jerry O'Connell played 14-year-old Ralphie, who is excited about his first job—as a furniture mover. Of course, it ends up being awful, and it might make him miss the annual family vacation at Mr. Hopnoodle's lakeside cabins.

My Summer Story, a.k.a. It Runs in the Family, debuted on the big screen in 1994. Kieran Culkin plays Ralphie, Mary Steenburgen is his mom, and Charles Grodin is his dad.

And in 2012, the direct-to-video sequel A Christmas Story 2 picked up five years after the original movie left off, with Ralphie attempting to get his parents to buy him a car.

An earlier version of this story appeared in 2008.

10 Timeless Facts About The Land Before Time

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Five years before Jurassic Park roared into theaters, a gentler, more meditative dinosaur film endeared itself to audiences of all ages. Initially met with mixed reviews, The Land Before Time is now regarded as an animated classic. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the Steven Spielberg-produced film, which arrived in theaters 30 years ago.

1. IT WAS CONCEIVED AS A DIALOGUE-FREE MOVIE.

Gabriel Damon and Candace Hutson in The Land Before Time (1988)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

In the mid-1980s, executive producer Steven Spielberg began toying with the idea of a Bambi-esque dinosaur film. “Basically,” he later said, “I wanted to do a soft picture … about five little dinosaurs and how they grow up and work together as a group.” Inspiration came from the “Rite of Spring” sequence from Disney’s Fantasia (1940)—a scene in which prehistoric beasts wordlessly go about their business. At first, Spielberg wanted his own dinosaur characters to follow suit and remain mum. Ultimately, however, it was feared that a non-verbal approach might bore or confuse the film’s intended audience. As such, the animals were given lines.

2. DIRECTOR DON BLUTH WAS AN EX-DISNEY EMPLOYEE.

Don Bluth grew up idolizing Disney’s work, and began working for the studio in 1955. Over the next two decades, he did various odd jobs until he was brought on as a full-time animator in 1971. Once on the inside, Bluth got to peek behind the magician’s curtain—and disliked what he found there. “I think [Walt Disney] would’ve seen that the pictures were losing their luster,” Bluth said. Frustrated by the studio’s cost-cutting measures, he resigned in 1979. Joining him were fellow animators Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy. Together the trio launched their own company, Sullivan Bluth Studios, and began working on The Land Before Time in 1986.

3. OVER 600 BACKGROUND PAINTINGS WERE MADE FOR THE FILM.

Most of these depicted beautiful but barren wastelands, which presented a real challenge for the creative team. As one studio press release put it, “The artists had to create a believable environment in which there was almost no foliage.” Whenever possible, Bluth’s illustrators emphasized vibrant colors. This kept their backdrops from looking too drab or monotonous—despite the desolate setting.

4. LITTLEFOOT’S ORIGINAL NAME WAS “THUNDERFOOT.”

This was changed when the filmmakers learned that there was a triceratops in a popular children’s book called Thunderfoot. Speaking of three-horned dinosaurs: Cera evolved from a pugnacious male character called Bambo.

5. THE FILMMAKERS HAD TO CUT ABOUT 10 MINUTES OF FOOTAGE.

“We compromised a lot with The Land Before Time,” Goldman admitted. Nowhere was this fact more apparent than on the cutting room floor. Spielberg and his fellow executive producer George Lucas deemed 19 individual scenes “too scary.” “We’ll have kids crying in the lobby, and angry parents,” Spielberg warned. “You don’t want that.”

6. “ROOTER” WAS INTRODUCED AT THE URGING OF CHILD PSYCHOLOGISTS.

In Bambi, the title character’s mom dies off-screen. The same cannot be said for Littlefoot’s mother, whose slow demise goes on for several agonizing minutes. Naturally, there was some concern about how children would react to this. “A lot of research went into the mother dying sequence,” Pomeroy said. “Psychologists were approached and shown the film. They gave their professional opinions of how the sequence could be depicted.” Thus, Rooter was born.

One scene after Littlefoot’s mom passes, the wise reptile consoles him, saying “You’ll always miss her, but she’ll always be with you as long as you remember the things she taught you.” Sharp-eared fans might recognize Rooter’s voice as that of Pat Hingle, who also narrates the movie.

7. JAMES HORNER DID THE SOUNDTRACK.

The late, Oscar-winning composer behind Braveheart (1995), Titanic (1997), and Avatar (2009) put together a soaring score. Along with lyricist Will Jennings, he also penned the original song “If We Hold On Together,” which Diana Ross sings as the end credits roll.

8. THE ACTRESS BEHIND DUCKY PASSED AWAY BEFORE THE MOVIE’S RELEASE.

Judith Barsi’s career was off to a great start. By age 10, this daughter of Hungarian immigrants had already appeared in 70 commercials and voiced the leading lady in Don Bluth’s All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989). For The Land Before Time, Barsi voiced the ever-optimistic Ducky, which was reportedly her favorite role. Then tragedy struck: In July of 1988, Barsi’s father József murdered both her and her mother before taking his own life.

9. IT HAD A RECORD-SETTING OPENING WEEKEND.

From the get-go, The Land Before Time had some stiff competition. Universal released it on November 18, 1988—the same day that Disney’s Oliver & Company hit theaters. Yet, for a solid month, Bluth gave Oliver a box office beating. The Land Before Time enjoyed the highest-grossing opening weekend that any animated film had ever seen, pulling in $7.5 million to Oliver & Company’s $4 million. Since then, of course, The Land Before Time has long been dethroned; today, Incredibles 2 (2018) holds this coveted distinction with a $182.7 million first-weekend showing.

10. THERE ONCE WAS TALK OF A LAND BEFORE TIME STAGE MUSICAL.

“The time has come for dinosaurs on Broadway,” the late theatrical producer Irving Welzer told The New York Times in 1997. Emboldened by the recent cinematic success of Spielberg’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1996), Welzer expressed an interest helping Littlefoot, Cera, Ducky, and the rest of the gang make their Big Apple debut. Soon, however, the idea faded.

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