When Sweet Ballz entrepreneurs James McDonald and Cole Egger aired in the Shark Tank in the Season 5 premier, they looked like winners. They scored a deal with Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran and the viewer response was huge. Interest in Sweet Ballz posts on Shark Tank Blog was high, which usually means the business website is getting a LOT of traffic. The website, however, was down. It still is; in fact, it's defunct!
Something happened on the way to the Shark Tank. Sweet Ballz was already turning into Sour Ballz. According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, things are anything BUT sweet with Sweet Ballz.
Success turns Sweet Ballz to Sour Ballz
According to the Dallas News article, “one week after their Shark Tank episode aired, McDonald sued frozen-food entrepreneur Egger, his roomate and cake ball co-conspirator; Stewart Hunter Heres, who, among other duties, was tasked with marketing their product via the web and more traditional media; and their competing National Cake Ball Brand over ownership of their website (the currently defunct www.sweetballz.com), the product they created, and the company they co-founded, City View Food Group.”
The story is one of misunderstanding, poor business planning, and, ultimately, greed. Prior to taping, agreements for MacDonald's compensation were made and other investors were brought in. When Sweet Ballz got a $400,000 order from 7-11, MacDonald was applying to Shark Tank and things got sticky. By May, “relations were strained between the founding members" and lawsuits were in the works. Eggers then seized the company domain.
By August, MacDonald alleges, SweetBallz.net was re-directing to CakeBallz.com, a site Eggers set up to, what MacDonald's attorney says, “sabotage the business.” A temporary restraining order was issued against Eggers and CakeBallz.com (the site says “product is temporarily out of stock”). A hearing is scheduled for October 8.
There isn't any mention of how this mess affects Cuban and Corcoran's investment, but I can't imagine the Sharks continuing to work with such a dysfunctional situation. What the Sweet Ballz guys have done is completely blown their Shark Tank moment. It could be the single biggest Shark Tank Failure ever. The company had a $400K PO from a national chain, two high-profile Sharks as investors, and the Shark Tank effect of 7+ million viewers.
Past metrics would suggest they were on their way to a multi-million dollar a year business. To jeopardize that for a mere $50K and some ego clashing is poor business at best, complete lunacy at worst. Shark Tank Blog will follow these developments and see if these Sour Ballz can sweeten things up.