The FUBU founder, who will speak at Inc.'s GrowCo conference in New Orleans on May 31, has starred on the reality show since it premiered nearly 10 years ago. He has partnered with some of the most successful businesses ever to appear on the series, including Mo's Bows and Bubba's-Q Boneless Ribs.
On Shark Tank's recently completed ninth season, John added several more startups to his portfolio. Here are the three most intriguing ones he chose to back.
Sharmi Albrechtsen got the idea for her line of robots when she struggled to find educational and fun toys for her daughter, Nina. She created SmartGurlz as a solution to that problem, providing a toy that engages children and encourages them to learn to code. The robots cost $80 apiece.
Albrechtsen pitched her Arlington, Virginia-based startup in a November 2017 episode, telling the sharks that she booked $250,000 in sales in less than six months. John offered her $200,000 for 25 percent of the company, which she accepted.
2. Cut Buddy
Joshua Esnard has been working on his invention since 2000, when he was a 13-year-old living in Ithaca, New York and trying to cut his own hair. He'd often make mistakes and badly wanted something that would give him clean lines and fewer bald spots. Seventeen years later, he appeared on Shark Tank showcasing Cut Buddy, a beard-shaping tool and haircut guide template that sells for about $15.
Esnard told the sharks he has gotten around $700,000 in sales and that he was looking for a business mentor. John agreed to give the entrepreneur $300,000 for 20 percent of his company.
3. Boobie Bar
Wendy Colson, a lactation consultant, saw nursing mothers needed a milk-boosting nutrition bar that they could take on the go. She began making Boobie Bars in her San Diego kitchen in 2011, using her patients as taste-testers, and eventually got her products on shelves at Walmart and other retail stores. The bars provide a daily dose of galactagogues, herbs that increases milk supply. A box of six bars, in flavors such as blueberry coconut and peanut butter, costs $17.99.
Colson told the sharks that she's generated $778,000 in sales in the two years since her company formally launched. John gave her $150,000 for a 20 percent stake in the company.