Shark Tank hopeful's dream: appear on Shark Tank, get a hefty investment from one of the sharks, go on QVC, become a household name, and maybe get your own Mr. Wonderful-style nickname.
But, what if you make it all the way into the tank and leave with no deal? For every
Baker's Edge brownie pan, there's an entrepreneur leaving empty-handed. Well, they do get one thing: publicity. And just what they do with that publicity, and how far they can run with it, may spell the difference between success and failure, deal or no deal.
Ahead, eight food companies that failed to get investments — and went on to find success anyway.
Photo: Courtesy of Copa Di Vino.
Copa Di Vino
has the unusual distinction of appearing on
not once, but twice — and turning down deals offered by the sharks both times. While the business is going strong, the sharks remember founder James Martin as "the most obnoxious and most stubborn" entrepreneur they've seen on the show.
Some second-time pitches do result in a investment, however. When
Echo Valley Meats
founder Dave Alwan appeared on the show in 2012, his mail-order meat business failed to get an investment, but it did result in big business. In 2014, he returned, and was able to strike a deal with Mark Cuban. Since then, Echo Valley Meats has grown its online offerings to include sweets and gift baskets, and has even appeared on QVC.
Founded by a former Navy SEAL, Victory Coffee delivers more than just a daily caffeine hit. In addition to providing a monthly delivery service personalized to each consumer (including the perfect amount based on cups enjoyed per day), the company is also committed to hiring veterans and providing free coffee to the country's VA hospitals. In an interview, founder Cade Courtley
said not getting funding
from the sharks was "one of the best things to happen to him."
S'mores are equal parts delicious and hard to recreate away from a campfire. Enter
Gotta Have S'more
, a company specializing in bite-size s'mores shaped like mini muffins that feature a Graham cracker base with a real roasted marshmallow on top. After walking away from the tank without a deal, Carmen Lidner (the brand's founder), sold the business in 2014. The s'mores have since been
rebranded and gotten new packaging
, though the recipe remains the same.
under the name Lynnae's Pickles, the company changed its name to
in 2015. Despite not getting funding on the show, the pickles, based on a 100-year-old family recipe, are widely available online and in stores across the West Coast.
The Smart Baker
started with an apron that offered a handy, easy-to-read conversion chart for home cooks and had already grown into a company that offered several innovative solutions for the kitchen by the time it appeared on
. While the husband-wife duo were initially able to strike a deal with Barbara Corcoran, they
later revealed on the Shark Tank Podcast
that the deal fell through. That didn't slow them down, however, and the line of pre-cut parchment papers, dessert stands, and bakeware is still going strong. The Smart Baker products can be purchased
and even found in
select Michael's craft stores
Part slaw, part salsa, Slawsa was a hit taste-wise with the sharks, but no one bit — a fact that shocked founder Julie Busha. Nevertheless, she prepped for her segment's airing by making sure her website could handle an increase of traffic and planned promotions for curious new potential customers, she
shares on Slawsa's website
. Her work paid off, as interest in the product was enough to get #Slawsa trending on Twitter during the show's initial airdate. Today, you can find Slawsa in
retailers across the country
as well as
Photo: Courtesy of Teapressa.
When entrepreneur Allison DeVane pitched
in 2016, the sharks were confused by what she was selling: was it an espresso machine for tea, or the tea itself? The pitch ended with encouraging words from Lori Greiner, who encouraged DeVane to keep going. Since then, DeVane has dealt with a few setbacks, including having her espresso-style machine stolen (though it was
). While Teaspresso's brick and mortar location has since shuttered, you can still buy its espresso-strength blends online, and a new location is planned for this fall.