The proliferation of reality TV has brought fame to many small businesses and the talented entrepreneurs behind them. Shark Tank is a particularly enticing forum for those who want a chance to make a splash with their venture, since those who appear on it get to pitch their wares to nearly 8 million viewers as potential customers.
Here are five of the most compelling U.S. small businesses that gained media exposure and investment by becoming reality TV stars on Shark Tank:
Business: Scrub Daddy
Founder: Aaron Krause
Widely cited as Shark Tank’s biggest success story, Scrub Daddy has reportedly earned over $50 million in sales as of 2017. Founder Aaron Krause’s concept was a simple one — a sponge that’s both high-tech and cute — and today his smiling, durable, and effective mini cleaning machines can be found everywhere from QVC to Bed, Bath & Beyond, where they sell like hotcakes.
Founder: Charles Yim
Pairing better health outcomes with iPhone technology was a winning combination, Charles Yim discovered when pitching his idea in Shark Tank’s fifth season. As the first product that garnered investment from all five Sharks, Yim’s breathalyzer that attaches to a smartphone to read users’ blood-alcohol levels earned close to $2 million in revenue last year, with estimated sales of $20 million.
Business: Cousins Maine Lobster
Founders: Sabin Lomac and Jim Tselikis
Lomac and Tselikis, who are cousins (hence the name), have made millions from a $20,000 investment in a lobster truck. The duo scored $55,000 from their appearance on Shark Tank, enabling them to grow their sustainable lobster roll business exponentially, making good on their promise of “Shore to Door” in 24 hours or less. They reached $20 million in sales in 2016 and have plans for international expansion.
Business: Wicked Good Cupcakes
Founders: Danielle Vilagie and Tracey Noonan
Boston-based mother-daughter team Vilagie and Noonan created the concept of “cupcakes in a jar” and showed it off on Shark Tank, where they received an investment of $75,000 for royalties. Today, the expanded business reportedly rakes in $8 million in sales.
Business: Tipsy Elves
Founders: Nick Morton and Evan Mendelsohn
How can you go wrong selling ugly Christmas sweaters? That’s what Shark Tank investor Robert Herjavec thought when he gave founders Morton and Mendelsohn $100,000 for a 10% share of their faddish seasonal sweater company. He wasn’t sorry — Tipsy Elves has logged over $20 million in sales over the last five years.