While nearly half of those handshake agreements fall apart after taping, Forbes reported, a good chunk turn into concrete deals for burgeoning business owners. And according to the show's official Facebook page, the funded companies have created more than 10,000 new jobs.
In last week's historic episode, in which the Sharks proposed deals that put their total of investments offered at more than $100 million, six lucky Millennials scored deals with the celebrity investors.
The young entrepreneurs featured in last week's episode hail from as far as southern California and work in industries that reach high into the sky. Meet the contestants who landed deals on Shark Tank's milestone episode:
Abby Speicher: DARTdrones
The deal: Mark Cuban gets 10 percent equity for $300,000
At age 17, Speicher was already running her own company in Scranton, Penn. Her startup, Daakye, sold purses made by Ghanaian women to fund children's education. She later handed over operations to a family friend and enrolled in Babson's MBA program.
Speicher, now 26, founded DARTdrones in 2015. The company sells in-person and online drone courses on aerial photography, test preparation for licenses, flight training, and beginner lessons. She was inspired to come up with the idea after trying to fly a drone that then immediately crashed. Speicher searched for a recreational training program, but the only classes available cost several hundred dollars. DARTdrones prices range from $19.99 to $670.
DARTdrones earned $317,000 in revenue during its first year, and grew to $1 million the following year. Speicher is now working to improve the curriculum by recruiting a wide scope of instructors who can create specific training courses. "It's about speed, we want to be the first to market with these classes," she says. "We want to get really qualified people with lots of experience in the area."
As for Shark Tank, Speicher calls the experience "nerve-racking." But showing Robert Herjavec how to fly a drone for the first time was just as scary.
Steven Ford, Brandon Leibel, Bruno Aschidamini: Sand Cloud
The deal: Robert Herjavec gets 15 percent equity for $200,000
When the co-founders of Sand Cloud created their first product--a towel with a pillow sewn into the top--they took beach trips to survey what people wanted most in a beach towel. Turns out, it wasn't what they made.
Today, the San Diego-based company sells handwoven Turkish beach towels with colorful designs. But one thing didn't change: Sand Cloud still donates 10 percent of its net profits to organizations that help protect and preserve beaches, oceans, and marine life. Company sales grew from $30,000 in 2014, the year it launched, to $2.5 million in 2016. Ford expects that amount to more than double this year.
To make ends meet, the founders ultimately quit their jobs to focus on the company. They moved into a two bedroom apartment and worked part-time as Uber drivers. Leibel even cashed in his 401(k). "Everything went back into building this brand, and by any means necessary," says Ford.
When they appeared on Shark Tank, the trio cropped headshots of the investors onto pictures of toned men and women in bathing suits at the beach--except for Kevin O'Leary. He was shown as an overweight, sunburnt beach-goer.
O'Leary immediately said he was out. But the trio still got their deal with Herjavec.
Nathan Coleman and James Brooks: Elephant Pants
The deal: Daymond John got 17.5 percent equity and 2.5 percent in advisory shares for $500,000
It was a trip to Thailand in 2013 that changed the career paths of James Brooks, 30, and Nathan Coleman, 29. The duo, who met in college and reconnected several years later, visited an elephant sanctuary while abroad and were shocked to see the brutal conditions.
"We really got to see the real treatment of elephants." Coleman says. "It motivated us to come back and do something about it."
Not long after, they got to work. The Brooklyn-based Elephant Pants sells comfortable apparel and gives 10 percent of net profits to charities dedicated to saving elephants. Since launching in the fall of 2014, the startup has donated $127,404.
Brooks had been working as a captain, sailing charter boats around New York City in the warmer months, and was able to devote his time to the burgeoning company. Coleman, who previously launched an e-commerce company that sold ties and pocket squares, made Elephant Pants a side hustle at the start, but ultimately checked out to work full-time at their new venture.
In its first year of business, Elephant Pants made over $3 million in revenue. The following year, they took in close to $5 million.
"When James sent that first check to [the African Wildlife Foundation] for the month, for about $1,000, we were just getting started," Coleman says. "We made a splash in the elephant community."