Whether you're a casual fan of Shark Tank or a devotee like this reporter, ABC's reality show provides a lot more than just business advice.
Throughout its 11-year run, the program has inspired entrepreneurs to pursue their passions while showcasing moments of hilarity and humanity. In 2019, the show kept going strong, gifting viewers with demonstrations gone horribly awry and chances at redemption. Here are the top best moments of this year, in no particular order.
1. When a goat bit Robert Herjavec
Loyal fans of Shark Tank will know that Robert Herjavec is an animal lover, so it wasn't a surprise when he volunteered to demonstrate goat yoga with the founders of Goga Goat Yoga, an Austin-based company that hosts vinyasa classes accompanied by Pygmy Nigerian dwarf goats.
On episode 14 of season 10, Goga co-founders Rachael Phillips and Trey Kitchen had five goats on set--dressed in shark costumes, naturally--to demonstrate how customers would perform certain moves with the animals. As Herjavec held a plank position with one goat balanced on his lower back, another goat scurried up and nibbled on his nose.
The founders left their segment without a deal, but Herjavec learned an important lesson--the Sharks aren't the only ones in the tank willing to show their teeth.
2. When Daymond John spontaneously bought an entire company
When husband-and-wife duo Alyssa and Zach Brown pitched their startup Moki Doorstep--maker of a heavy-duty step that attaches to car doors and helps users reach the roof of the vehicle--they weren't expecting to leave the show as millionaires.
The co-founders were seeking $150,000 for 5 percent equity in their Newington, Connecticut-based business, valuing it at $3 million. However, when Daymond John offered the couple $450,000 for 20 percent equity on season 10, episode 9, they said they would rather sell the business than give up that much equity. That's not a typical response on Shark Tank, but the entrepreneurs explained that they both loved their jobs outside of the company--Zach is a firefighter and Alyssa is an emergency room nurse. John offered them $3 million for the entire business, which they quickly accepted.
3. When two entrepreneurs got the Sharks to eat dog treats
Justin Miller and Tom Simon didn't tell the Sharks that the crunchy cookies they were sampling were actually intended for dogs. The pair made the bold move on episode 14 of season 10, where they were seeking $50,000 for 20 percent equity in their bake-at-home dog treat mix company Zookies Cookies. While the investors didn't love the taste of the product, guest Shark and Drybar founder Alli Webb agreed to invest in the Raleigh, North Carolina-based business. She offered $50,000 for 30 percent of the company, and the founders agreed.
4. When Haven's demo went disastrously wrong
The co-founders of Haven, maker of a smart door lock, wanted to show the Sharks that their invention was superior to the traditional deadbolt locks on the market. "An experienced intruder can get in, in about five kicks," co-founder Clay Banks said on season 10, episode 18. "Alex, show them how easy it is," he added, stepping aside so his partner Alex Bertelli could kick down the door.
Bertelli then hurled himself at the door more than 10 times, even using the assistance of a heavy stopper, but unfortunately had no luck. "Looks like we don't need to buy this product," John said as his fellow Sharks doubled over in laughter and wiped tears from their eyes.
The Nashville-based co-founders later learned that the display door was accidentally over-engineered by Shark Tank set producers, which caused the devilishly funny disaster. Despite the botched demonstration, the entrepreneurs were able to save their pitch and win respect from the investors. They didn't walk away with a deal, but, as Mark Cuban said, they did manage to make "Shark Tank history."
5. When an entrepreneur whose pitch failed got a second chance
In 2013, Jason Woods went on Shark Tank pitching his Pleasant Hill, California-based business Kymera, a line of electric jet bodyboards. However, the Sharks didn't bite--John called it the worst pitch he had ever heard and Cuban called him a "want-trepreneur."
Woods took the advice he received from the investors--they encouraged him to find someone else to run the business--and returned with his project manager Adam Majewski seeking $250,000 for 5 percent equity on season 10, episode 21. He had also further developed his products, raised $625,000 through several rounds of funding, and booked $900,000 worth of preorders at the time the show was shot.
"I love second chances. That's one of the things that make this country great," Herjavec said as he offered Woods $500,000 for 10 percent equity, noting that it takes more cash to compete in the watersports industry. "Everyone deserves a second chance." Woods accepted without negotiating. "If you're willing to give everything that you've got to what you believe in, you can make it happen," Woods said after leaving the Tank.
6. When a hardcore Shark Tank fan scored a deal
Appearing on episode 18 of season 10, Austin Maxwell told the investors just how huge of a Shark Tank fan he was: After watching the founders of alcoholic punch business BeatBox Beverages score a deal on a 2014 episode, he contacted the company and asked if he could work for them. Five years later, he was on the same program pitching his iceless cooler company Kanga. "This has already been a dream come true for me," he said.
Maxwell, Teddy "Hops" Giard, and Logan LaMance were seeking $100,000 for 10 percent equity for their Clemson, South Carolina-based business. Cuban made the first proposal, offering $100,000 for 20 percent equity as long as the trio didn't negotiate. The co-founders accepted Cuban's deal before the other Sharks had a chance to counter.
7. When Barbara Corcoran made a case for a brave entrepreneur
Founder Lisa D'Amato appeared on season 10, episode 17, pitching Dare-U-Go, a line of children's bibs that double as food storage containers. While she had impressive sales--her products had generated $100,000 in three months on the market--it was her personal backstory that won over Barbara Corcoran.
"When I was young, I had developed an eating disorder, and modeling didn't help," D'Amato told the Sharks, adding that she had been a contestant on America's Next Top Model. "I got through it all, and I'm the mom I never had, and I couldn't be more proud about it."
While D'Amato irked the Sharks by citing market statistics to predict the growth of her company--one of the worst things you can do on the show since those numbers aren't indicative of how a business will scale--Corcoran didn't let her leave without a deal. She offered $100,000 cash plus a $250,000 loan for 35 percent of the Los Angeles-based business.
"The best thing I've heard from you is the story of your growing up," Corcoran said. "Because if I were to go through my top businesses, every one of them is headed by an entrepreneur who came through hell and back."
8. When Mr. Wonderful shouted, "Let's go make hundreds of dollars."
The co-founders of Saucemoto, maker of a plastic dip-clip that plugs into a car's air vent, weren't asking the Sharks for a lot of money on season 10, episode 22. Michael Koury, Tony Lahood, and William Moujaes were seeking $45,000 for 15 percent of their Cleveland-based business, one of the lower investment amounts to appear on the program in recent years.
That didn't dissuade the Sharks--Saucemoto launched a successful Kickstarter in 2017 that originally sought $10,000 and ended with $63,308. Kevin O'Leary offered the co-founders $45,000 in exchange for 25 percent equity. "We are going to take over the world with this, guys," O'Leary told the trio after making the deal. "Now, let's go make hundreds of dollars."
9. When an entrepreneur's strategic move sealed the deal
Co-founders Sarah Paiji Yoo and Syed Naqvi angered the Sharks when they refused to part with more than 5 percent equity in their company Blueland. The pair was seeking $270,000 in exchange for 2 percent of the ecofriendly cleaning supply company on episode 1 of season 11. When negotiations turned sour and the Sharks started to drop out, Cuban shouted that they were only there for the commercial.
As hope dwindled, Paiji Yoo made a calculated last-ditch effort to score a deal: She suggested that O'Leary invest $270,000 for 3 percent equity, as well as a 50¢ royalty on every cleaning kit sold until he recouped his money. Proposing a royalty deal with Mr. Wonderful was a smart move since it's his preferred type of investment on the show. He quickly accepted the offer. "There's a woman who understands me," O'Leary said.
10. When a Shark Tank reject saved the day
Six years ago, the Sharks told Jamie Siminoff they didn't see a future for his Wi-Fi-enabled video doorbell company, then called Doorbot. Last year, he sold the renamed business, Ring, to Amazon for more than $1 billion and was invited to appear on the show as a guest judge.
That's when he met Lucinda Cramsey, founder of meat subscription service Moink, on season 10, episode 15. Her La Belle, Missouri-based business delivers ethically sourced beef, pork, chicken, and salmon from family farms and generates $730,000 in annual sales. Lori Greiner, Cuban, and John didn't make her an offer, but Siminoff offered $400,000 for 20 percent equity in the business--$150,000 more than what she was seeking. She accepted immediately.