The ‘Shark Tank’ effect: Five entrepreneurs share how the show impacted their business

Ever since Shark Tank premiered in 2009, the ABC reality television series has been a powerful way for entrepreneurs to grow their business. It’s also just great TV. Contestants pitch their products to a stone-faced panel of investors and business moguls, or “Sharks,” in hopes of securing an investment.

You can feel the tension from the couch as the Sharks grill the entrepreneurs on their business model, revenue, scalability, etc. and negotiate big chunks of equity in exchange for cash offers. It’s even better when the Sharks bicker amongst each other about their offers, or get sassy pushback from the entrepreneurs.

But, the best part of the show is learning about all the wacky and/or ingenious ideas the contestants pitch. If you’ve ever watched the show and have been compelled to look up a company, you’re not alone. In fact, there’s a term for it: the “Shark Tank effect.”

Appearing on Shark Tank isn’t just a chance to raise capital, it gives entrepreneurs free national publicity. Many entrepreneurs that appeared on Shark Tank saw huge boosts in traffic, revenue, and customers — even if they didn’t get a deal with one of the Sharks. 

In fact, the national exposure is arguably the biggest benefit of the show. Entrepreneurs are given the chance to tell their story and showcase their product or service in ways that a straightforward advertisement could never accomplish. Often, the entrepreneurs have amazing stories of overcoming hardships and risking everything because of the businesses they fiercely believe in. That passion and tenacity has a persuasive effect of connecting with the audience on an emotional level, which in turn makes us root for them and want to support them — i.e. buy their product.

It can also be a chance for the entrepreneurs to receive valuable feedback from the Sharks who have seen it all and ask the tough questions. Getting grilled by the Sharks on national TV might not seem like a benefit, but facing this kind of adversity can force entrepreneurs to rethink their business, hone their pitching skills, and prepare them for the challenges of building a company.

How exactly did appearing on Shark Tank impact their business? From the entrepreneurs who got a deal with the Sharks to the ones who experienced very tough love, we followed up with five Shark Tank entrepreneurs to find out. 

Outcome: No deal

“The biggest thing I walked away with from Shark Tank was hearing ‘no,’ and still moving forward,” said Renaldo Webb(Opens in a new tab), founder of PetPlate(Opens in a new tab), which provides healthy meals personalized to your dog’s dietary needs. Webb was “devastated” when he didn’t get a deal on Shark Tank. “It was the loneliest six-hour flight I’ve ever had,” said Webb of the journey back home to New York. But he didn’t give up.

PetPlate founder Renaldo Webb with his dog

PetPlate founder Renaldo Webb with his muse, Cooper.
Credit: PetPlate

“[The Sharks] had great rationale at the time for the answers that they gave,” he said, referring to high up-front costs and scalability. “But I really believed in the idea, I really believed in the market, and was able to use that to convince myself that I wouldn’t let someone tell me it wasn’t a good idea.” The Sharks’ feedback got Webb thinking about PetPlate’s business model at the time, which was “like Uber Eats for dogs” where a meal is delivered after placing an order on an app. Since then, PetPlate pivoted to delivering boxes of pre-portioned meals that can be stored in the refrigerator and freezer.

Since Webb’s Shark Tank appearance in 2016, PetPlate has raised over $30 million in investment and ships nationwide. Even without getting a deal, the national exposure was a huge boost to his business. “I think the more important thing is the visibility you’re gonna get coming out of that.” 

Outcome: No deal

Lola Ogden(Opens in a new tab), the founder of Beddley(Opens in a new tab), which makes a duvet cover with three open sides for easily putting your bedding back together, knew she wasn’t completely ready when she appeared on Shark Tank. But she also knew it was an amazing opportunity to share Beddley with the world. “What have I got to lose?” said Ogden. “I would tell any entrepreneur when you get an opportunity, there’s no turning it down. See how you can make the best of it, because that opportunity may never come again.”

Beddley founder Lola Ogden

Beddley founder Lola Ogden was inspired after appearing on ‘Shark Tank’ even though she didn’t get a deal.
Credit: Beddley

Product image of Beddley duvet cover

Beddley’s three-sided opening makes putting on a duvet cover hassle-free.
Credit: Beddley

Sure enough, the Sharks had issues with Beddley’s packaging, which didn’t show the clever way it differed from traditional duvet covers — seriously no more shoving and wrestling with the duvet — and didn’t offer Ogden a deal. But Ogden said she walked away feeling inspired. “You have to be open to feedback. Because by being open that’s how you get better at anything,” said Ogden. “Even if your product is critiqued, I never see it as criticism. You have to receive it and that’s how the finest products have been made.”

Despite not getting a deal, Ogden said the exposure has been “amazing.” After appearing on Shark Tank, Beddley saw a massive impact on sales and customers. The exposure also allowed Beddley to reach a wider market. Beddley now ships internationally and Ogden says she has been able to connect with customers with illnesses or disabilities who say her product has “restored a sense of dignity” by being able to make the bed without help.

Outcome: Handshake deal with guest Shark Kendra Scott for $100,000 for 20%

The Sharks were blown away by 16-year-old Tyla-Simone Crayton(Opens in a new tab)‘s poise and business savvy. And they weren’t the only ones. “After [Shark Tank] it was crazy,” said the founder of Sienna Sauce(Opens in a new tab), which makes a variety of sauces that can be used as dips, marinades, glazes, and just about anything else. “We had so many orders coming in overnight… we had $300k in sales just immediately.” 

Sienna Sauce founder Tyla-Simone Crayton wearing an apron with the sauces in the background.

Founder and “Sauce Boss” Tyla-Simone Crayton with her creations.
Credit: Sienna Sauce

The national exposure made the young entrepreneur somewhat of a sensation. Crayton was featured in a FedEx commercial(Opens in a new tab) and appeared on Good Morning America, CNBC, and Kelly Clarkson. Sienna Sauce also expanded to 500 Wegmans locations and is now sold in Target, HEB, and World Market. For Crayton, appearing on Shark Tank helped legitimize Sienna Sauce. “It’s definitely given us another level of credibility, especially for me being a young entrepreneur,” she said. “Now, people take me a lot more seriously, when I’m able to say I was on Shark Tank.”

The experience of appearing on Shark Tank taught Crayton the importance of “giving yourself grace,” or staying strong in your convictions despite uncertainties. Case in point: when she countered an offer from guest Shark Kendra Scott (a deal she ultimately agreed to). “I think that was a great example of me as an entrepreneur, just not being afraid to stand up for myself and my business, and I got to showcase that on the show.”

Outcome: Handshake deal with Daymond John for $200,000 for 30%

Tenikle(Opens in a new tab) founder Hans Dose(Opens in a new tab) remembers driving to the show with his wife. “I’m about to go in front of national TV and the Sharks with $39 in my bank account with flippers on and this goofy-ass [octopus inflatable] and I’m like, ‘What the hell am I doing?’ It was so ridiculous.” That was the moment he decided to let go and try and have fun. Tenikle is a device mount that can stick on almost any surface using tentacle-like suction cups (which explains the flippers and octopus getup Dose wore during the pitch.)

Tenikle founder Hans Dose

Tenikle founder Hans Dose — without the flippers and inflatable.
Credit: Tenikle

Tenikle holding an iPhone mounted from a Macbook

Tenikle can be mounted almost anywhere.
Credit: Tenikle

Dose ended up securing a deal with Daymond John, which enabled him to pay off his debt. He also gained a new sales team. “They saw the Shark Tank episode and were like, ‘we really want to work with this guy.'” What helped Dose secure a deal with John and win fans was his vulnerability. “I think vulnerability is actually one of your biggest assets. I really think that being truthful and honest in business, people are gonna see that.” 

Since appearing on Shark Tank in 2021, Tenikle has made $4 million in revenue and broke the seven-figure mark for annual sales. “Instead of just trying to swim to survive, I’m able to work on the things that have always been in the hopper.” 

Outcome: No deal

Nopalera founder Sandra Velasquez(Opens in a new tab) received offers from Kevin O’Leary and guest Shark Daniel Lubetzky, but turned them both down. When Daymond John criticized Velasquez for not negotiating with them, Velasquez stood her ground, saying she didn’t want to undervalue herself or her company, which makes bath and beauty products derived from the nopal cactus.

Velasquez had a ceiling in mind of how much equity she would give in exchange for investment, but the Sharks wanted too much. “Just because a Shark offers you money doesn’t mean it’s a good deal,” said Velasquez in an email to Mashable. 

Nopalera founder Sandra Velasquez

Nopalera founder Sandra Velasquez knows her worth.
Credit: Nopalera

Nopalera family of products

The Nopalera family of products.
Credit: Nopalera

The move paid off. After appearing on Shark Tank, Nopalera received 6,000 orders in eleven days and made over $300,000 in sales. “Ironically the same amount of money the sharks wanted to give me for 30 percent of my company,” said Velasquez.

Two months later, Nopalera ended up raising $2.7 million in investment. Velasquez said she went on Shark Tank, not just for her company Nopalera, but for the Latino community. For her, declining the offers proved the importance of defending her self-worth as an entrepreneur and Latina. “We think if we don’t say yes to the opportunity in front of us it will be our last chance. What I demonstrated to our community was that there is always more.” 

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