You win some, you lose some. Shark Tank, which has, so far, aired 12 seasons on ABC (syndicated on CNBC), proves that old adage. Despite many successes—Scrub Daddy, Breathometer, Plated—the sharks passed on a $700,000 deal for 10% of Ring doorbell, which sold to Amazon for $1 billion just over four years later. Ouch! On a smaller (yet heavier) scale, bodybuilder/powerlifter Stan Efferding raised a 600-pound deadlift and $50,000 for a 1/3 stake in The Kooler, a shaker bottle cooler. Props to “Rhino,” but he didn’t make our list. The Barbell checks in on the five biggest Shark Tank fitness successes. Some lured a shark. Some didn’t. All thrived after their televised pitches.
Like Ring, sometimes the sharks miss a big fish—or, in this case, a bear. Kodiak Cakes owner Joel Clark walked away from the sharks in 2014 because he didn’t want to give up more than 10% (for $500,000) in the Utah company his brother launched in 1996. Just three months before, Kodiak had added protein powder to their mix along with whole grains, and, with Shark Tank’s publicity, the new Power Cakes sold to fitness enthusiasts like, well, hot cakes. The company nearly doubled their 2013 revenue in 2014. More protein-packed products followed. Blowing away the $20 million in four years Clark predicted on Shark Tank—and the sharks scoffed at that number—Kodiak Cakes made over $100 million in 2018 alone.
SIMPLY FIT BOARD
“Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door,” so they say. Simply Fit is indeed simple. After Linda Clark skateboarded with her grandsons, her core muscles were sore. So, she teamed up with her daughter, Gloria Hoffman, to replicate the movement, and they formed a piece of curved plastic that you balance on, working the core, hips, and legs as your twist back and forth. Simple. In November 2015, they convinced shark Lori Greiner to invest $125,000 for 20%, and, because they had no patent, the women moved fast to get it everywhere. In 2019, USA Today ranked it as the fourth best-selling Shark Tank product ever with $160 million in sales.
The wheelless skateboard was preceded by the waveless surfboard. That’s the concept behind Surfset Fitness and its RipSurferX balance board. In 2012, Mark Cuban invested $300,000 for 30% of the business, launched by Mike Hartwick and Sarah Poon. The initial swell may have calmed, but this wave just keeps rolling with no signs of crashing. The RipSurferX is available for $675, and there are group Surfset classes in 35 countries.
Once again it was the better-mousetrap approach to something as simple and boring as a water bottle. Clean Bottle is easy to wash because both the top and bottom can be removed. Its inventor, triathlete David Mayer (and his friend, NBA legend Bill Walton), pitched it on Shark Tank in 2012, and Mark Cuban bought 8% for $60,000. Marketed to cyclists, hikers, and other fitness enthusiasts and available in over 4000 stores in North America and Europe, Clean Bottle expanded its line to include stainless steel versions along with the original soft plastic and a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. In December 2018, it was acquired by an investment firm for undisclosed terms.
When Ben Young and Greg Coleman shook hands with Mark Cuban in February 2016, it was for $1.5 million (plus another $1.5 million in advertising), which would’ve given the mogul a 10% stake in Sworkit, the popular workout app (Sworkit had already generated $2 million in revenue). However, the deal subsequently fell through when the two sides couldn’t hammer out the fine print—providing a backstage peak at how things sometimes go on Shark Tank. Nevertheless, the massive (almost) deal (the ninth biggest in the show’s history) generated much publicity. And the Sworkit app continues to work it. The company claims to have delivered over 100 million workouts.