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Failure Stories from the Shark Tank

failure storiesFailure stories don’t get featured on Shark Tank in the update segments. Why would they? Shark Tank wants to feature success stories. Plenty of entrepreneurs “fail” by not getting a deal, but manage to parlay their appearance on the show into further success for their business. Those stories get plenty of coverage; some companies that don’t get a deal with the Sharks even return to do an update segment. What doesn’t get as much press are the failure stories; tales of Shark funded deals that have gone bad.

 Failure Stories of Funded Entrepreneurs: Cactus Jack

Barbara Corcoran had one of the more visible failure stories early on in Season one. Cactus Jack got a $180,000 investment; $90K from Kevin Harrington and $90K from Barbara. The two Sharks invested in Cactus Jack and his Body Jac after the entrepreneur shed 30 pounds to prove his invention worked. Fast forward to 2012 and Body Jac is no longer for sale. Barbara has publicly stated it was her worst investment in the Shark Tank. When Kirk Taylor met Barbara Corcoran last spring, she didn’t go into detail about how the investment fell apart, but she was “visibly perturbed” about the deal when questioned. Cactus Jack’s recap has even been removed from the ABC website!

Failure Stories of Funded Entrepreneurs: Hyconn

Hy-Conn was  one of the first visible failure stories involving Mark Cuban. The company got a much hyped deal with Cuban in the Shark Tank in season two. Cuban offered Jeff Stroope $1.25 million for his company plus a three-year employment deal to run the show at a $100,000 annual salary.The deal never came to fruition. Entrepreneur Jeff Stroope has not been tight-lipped about the deal either. Stroope’s Facebook page claimed, Mark Cuban’s “ego” got the best of him during negotiations and backed out when he realized what he had done. Hyconn continues to move forward, albeit a a far slower pace than they would have if Cuban’s funding had gone through. Here is the text of a post on Stroope’s Facebook page made prior to the April 20, 2012 re-run of his segment:

“From the desk of Jeff Stroope, Founder – Hy-Conn LLC

Due to the delay of shipping parts since the airing of Shark Tank I felt that I needed to update you on the status of Hy-Conn. First I want to thank you for your interest in Hy-Conn.

As some people know by now the deal that was made on shark tank with Mark Cuban for $1.25M, with 7.5% royalties, & a 3 year employment agreement.

After the cameras were turned off some of the agreements that were made on the show started changing. Almost immediately Mark decided that he was not going to go thru with the agreement on Shark Tank. After which Mark said he didn’t own any manufacturing and didn’t want to own any manufacturing. This was not something that had to be done.

In my opinion, and in all due respect, during the recording of the show Mark let his “ego” (or whatever you want to call it) overload the reality of what he would do. After the cameras were off and he had a few weeks to think about it he realized he didn’t want to come up with the money. When we started having these issues it was decided that I didn’t want to continue. However, I do not have any anger or bad feeling toward Mark Cuban. This is a part of the business that I have to get thru. As it was said on Shark Tank by Robert Herjavec “never disrespect money”

The current status of Hy-Conn is that we have lots of potential customers for the Pro Edition, Home Edition, and now also the Oil & Gas Edition. However, we do not have enough customers to accept orders and use those funds to make the required molds and parts to get everything into production. I have been able to identify the manufacturing sources but the money is not there to get the parts made due to the minimum manufacturing requirements.

I have received a notice from Shark Tank that my episode with air again on April 20th. This is good news and bad news. The good news is that I will get more exposure to a much larger audience and the potential for getting enough orders/interest to start production. However, the bad news is that when the show airs I am not able to process orders.

I want to apologize for the current condition that we have and I want to thank you for your patience while I have been trying to solve this problem. A lot of people have asked if I wish I would have gone with Kevin O’Leary. The answer is I wish I would have gone with Kevin or Robert. However, when on Shark Tank you don’t get a do over. I have a couple of things moving forward slowly that if they do materialize I will have big news soon.

Stay tuned to our website and Facebook page for updates that are to come and don’t for get to watch Shark Tank on April 20th for the largest deal that was accepted in Shark Tank history. (Unless another deal is made between now and then that is larger)



Hy-Conn Pro Edition went into production in June and they appear to be shipping the product. The home addition is not in production because they have not raised the capital to manufacture it. Even with the bumps in the road, Hyconn is moving forward.

Failure Stories of Funded Entrepreneurs: You Smell Soap

You Smell Soap entrepreneur Megan Cummings struck a deal on the air with Robert Herjavec for  $55,000 for 20 percent of her company. Herjavec also promised a $50K per year salary. According to an article on CNET, Cummings heard virtually nothing from Herjavec for 6 months after taping; she only communicated with “his people.” Herjavec rather abruptly mailed a contract to Cummngs offering $55K for half of the company, which she rejected. A funny thing happened though: nearly 6 million people saw her episode and she was inundated with inquires from retailers interested in carrying You Smell Soap. Cummings struggled to fill orders, forgoing an engagement ring to keep the business going. It all appears to have worked out. You Smell Soap is in hundreds of retailers nationwide now and sells on their website as well. Despite a rocky beginning, Megan was one of the failure stories that was able to persevere and become a success story.

Failure Stories of Funded Entrepreneurs: Toygaroo

The most visible of all the Shark Tank failure stories is probably Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary’s investment in Toygaroo, the “Netflix of Toys.” O’Leary and Cuban partnered on this deal with $200K ($100K each) for 35% of the business. The concept appeared to be a winner. Nikki Pope, a minority partner in the business and Toygaroo’s public ambassador, was all over the media after “winning” on Shark Tank, pitching  Toygaroo  on all the major TV networks. Somewhere along the line, the business ran into trouble. In the fall of 2011, customer complaints about Toygaroo mounted and the company’s CTO made some cryptic public statements on his personal blog. On April 2, 2012, Toygaroo filed for Bankruptcy. In an interview with the Toygaroo CTO, Phil Smy, he stated,  “the business was growing. To be honest, that was the problem. Explosive growth is a difficult thing to handle for small businesses. I thought – and still think – it is a great idea.” As for the Shark investors, he said “I don’t think that the ‘big name’ investors we got really came through with what I had hoped.” He didn’t elaborate on that last point, but it does make one wonder. Toygaroo has ceased all operations.

Many more failure stories exist in the Shark tank and we will highlight them in the coming weeks. To be fair, some companies that appear on the show fail on their own, but there will undoubtedly be more failure stories emerging from the Shark Tank in the future. Entrepreneurs want to tell success stories, not failure stories.

More Failure Stories from the Shark Tank

Sour Ballz: Sweet Ballz Deal in Court

Check out the Elephant Chat Fail story!

Is Magic Cook a “FAIL?” Did Magic Cook Knock Off Baro Cook?

Is Forus Athletics a FRAUD?? Forus Athletics Failure

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob and more.


  1. robert miers says

    just watched the “team” play Cat on a mouse with the wine balloon. They pressured, threatened, cajoled, and hustled the poor guy out of 200K’ They got 100% without a dime of royalty.
    Many times the guest is the bad guy but this time made me turn off the show….maybe for good….see this type of stuff in real life…..and it isn’t pleasant to watch…..One truthful look into those five working together to smash the bug lost this avid watcher. Hope it was worth it……and I am not the only one who saw this show

  2. The shark tank takes advantage of potential inventors, making them richer than the person that invented a new product, with little upfront money ,from the sharks, and the inventor did all the hard work, to create their idea.

  3. While most of the Sharks appear very sincere. Mark Cuban shows the meaner side of wealth.
    The episode where he added his on rules, i.e. decided he could just buy the company, without; I add, giving the inventor any opportunity speak with the other Shark’s for comments and alternative offers. As he threaten to keep his offer viable only if he was obeyed! Was so disturbing!
    It made me sad to watch a person with billions of dollars bully this man into selling.
    Mark Cuban is in the running for “Whoever has the most toys when he dies; wins! And his boyish charm is addicting, I felt he was lead astray by the panache and whimsy of the product and but he has shown a dark greedy side. Robert has commented numerously about the Bull in the shark tank.
    Thanks Helen

  4. I watch shark tank like a bad habit but I’m starting to realize what kind of people they are. They don’t care about your story or your life they want money and they will step on the weak and struggling to get there they don’t understand real life any more .it sickens me to listen to Robert try to tell his story. And sympathize with many. He’s a monster who will step on you for a quarter yet nbc has managed to make these people seem like there hero’ get richer poor get poorer..hope they can bring there money to hell so they can burn it to stay warm

  5. Trumpeteer says

    When will trump guest star? Trump 2016!!!!

  6. well if you INVENT a product and want to get it out to the public….and have no other investors to help with patent costs, testing of product or the market FOR your product…..i guess you take a shot in the tank and hope not to be screwed. there are NOW a lot of other venture funding places than ever before, for ideas to become a viable ‘business’, but like with anything in life YOU have to be very careful before signing on the dotted line. i personally do not think shark tank takes advantage of anyone since the INVENTOR or person(s) that go on the show are there by THEIR OWN EFFORTS AND CHOICE. they ultimately have the CHOICE to take or walk away from any ‘deal’. when YOU buy the bag full of candy and eat it all, then get a bellyache….whos at fault? the maker of the candy or the person who picked it out, filled the bag and CHOSE to eat it all? same with the shark tank.

  7. Shark Tank has lost the quality of pitches it once had. Now its pretty much all the same stuff with “Subscription boxes” or Subscribe this or that. There is maybe one good pitch every 5-6 episodes.

  8. Most of them are rich. I stopped watching it because Donray, Baldey, Mark make me want to puke everytime they want to break it off in someone. Kevin has issues about being short and bald. if any lady or man dated him it would be all about the money. Thinks he is gods gift to man kind, NOT.

  9. WilliamdweRt says

    I ready to educate! educate me hard!!!

    From WilliamdweRt withlove))

    • Not every business that appears stays in business. The shoes were well made, they just couldn’t “do” the business and screwed people. It still makes for good TV though….

  10. Cuban is ruining that show. And it doesn’t look like anyone can do anything about it because he’s the big celebrity.

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