8 Shark Tank Fails That Turned Into Big Successes

Landing a coveted spot on ABC’s reality show Shark Tank is the opportunity of a lifetime for a budding entrepreneur.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Disney/ABC)

Landing a coveted spot on ABC’s reality show Shark Tank is the opportunity of a lifetime for a budding entrepreneur. Each season, the show receives tens of thousands of applications, but only a few dozen applicants actually get selected to appear on the show. That’s where they’ll pitch their companies to some of today’s top entrepreneurs -- Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John and Kevin O’Leary (known on the show as "the Sharks"). The up-and-coming business owners hope that the pros will be wowed and want to buy in, providing some much-needed funding that will help take their companies to the next level.

While some entrepreneurs are able to impress the sharks out the gate, others aren’t so lucky and go home empty-handed. But don’t be mistaken, there’s an upside to the latter scenario, too. Appearing on an episode of the hit reality series is essentially a free advertisement that puts a relatively unknown company in front of millions of potential customers. If you’ve got a product they want, that can still lead to a significant boost in sales even if the Sharks don’t bite.

We chatted with several business owners who’ve appeared on Shark Tank throughout the years but failed to seal the deal. Some walked away from what they deemed a low-ball offer, while others simply couldn’t drum up enough interest during their pitch. However, all have benefited from the “Shark Tank effect” and have found great success since their appearance on the show. Here, they talk about lessons learned and share how much their businesses have grown.

Andrea Browne Taylor
Online Editor, Kiplinger.com
Browne Taylor joined Kiplinger in 2011 and is a channel editor for Kiplinger.com covering living and family finance topics. She previously worked at the Washington Post as a Web producer in the Style section and prior to that covered the Jobs, Cars and Real Estate sections. She earned a BA in journalism from Howard University in Washington, D.C.