For contestants diving into the TV show Shark Tank, it is no doubt intimidating to face the savvy panel of entrepreneurs who just might make an aggressive yet reasonable offer after hearing a great pitch. Most of the contestants expect to get talked down a little. After all, that's what sharks do: Pinpoint an opportunity and get themselves in the best position possible. However, when you get them into a feeding frenzy, there's no telling what might happen.

Some of the deals struck in the Tank are modest, and some are mind-blowing. Considering the millions and billions these angel investors have at their disposal, they could technically pony up just about any dollar amount they'd like. Here are some of the biggest investments they've made, and a little about the entrepreneurs who struck their fancy.

1. $2 Million from Mark Cuban

Who would have thought a record-breaking deal would start with a zombie in the mix? Melissa Carbone is an entrepreneur who dreamed up an entertainment company that she said was worth $20 million. Ten Thirty One Productions is behind a popular haunted hayride in LA. It sounded like a flop of a deal, until she started sharing her numbers. After she proved that the company really was worth that amount, complete with sold-out shows every night of the week, Cuban jumped on the chance to hand over $2 million for 20 percent equity.

Talk about scary (in a good way).

2. $250,000 from Kevin O'Leary

In 2012, Talbott Teas made a splash and caught the eye of Kevin O'Leary, who dished up a quarter million dollars for 35 percent of the company. The founder had already gotten tangled into a deal with another company, and came to the Sharks not just for their money but also their expertise. Soon after, Jamba Juice scooped up Talbott Teas for an amount that's never been released. Clearly, O'Leary backed that decision and now the teas are sold in more than 750 Jamba Juice locations.

3. $200,000 from Mark Cuban

Kisstixx is the lip balm for couples, touted by a couple of guys from Utah who admitted that they were obsessed with getting girls to make out with them. The two guys--who have found wives--came up with "matching" balms that made sense together in terms of flavor. They also created a product that matched up like fire and ice. It interested Cuban enough that he scored a 40 percent stake for $200,000.

The real "money moment" occurred when the entrepreneurs got O'Leary and Barbara Corcoran to kiss. Clearly, these guys had sales skills.

4. $125,000 from Robert Herjavec

Everyone wants to learn to play guitar--it's definitely one of the most badass instruments out there. However, it's not easy. Enter Chordbuddy, a device that helps make it more simple for anyone to learn guitar. It intrigued Herjavec, who gave $125,000 for a 20 percent stake. He sweetened the deal with an extra $50,000 to make and promote it as an infomercial. The company enjoyed half a million in sales just two weeks after the show aired.

Money really does talk--but it says a lot more when people like the sharks add their expertise to go with it. Each of the deals described here is a marriage of a solid business idea and the resources needed to make it happen. The entrepreneurs who can lure that kind of cash from the sharks find that they get not only the funding but also the connections and access that can take their business to a new level.

Published on: Oct 6, 2014
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