What do comfortable socks, a video doorbell, a drone academy, and gourmet peanuts have in common?
They’re all products and businesses pitched on the popular ABC reality show “Shark Tank,” and they were all founded by Babson College alumni. Since the show’s premiere in 2009, a number of Babson graduates have entered the Tank, using the entrepreneurial mindsets they developed at the College to woo the Sharks and pitch their products.
With one of the Sharks, investor Kevin O’Leary, also known as “Mr. Wonderful,” coming to campus this week, read on to learn about the Babson alumni behind some memorable “Shark Tank” businesses.
The biggest Babson success story to appear on the show, and the Sharks didn’t even take a bite. Jamie Siminoff is what “Shark Tank” has called the billion dollar idea that got away. The Sharks made no deals when he pitched Ring, video doorbells that let you answer the door from anywhere using your smartphone. A few years later, Amazon acquired Ring for more than $1 billion, one of its largest acquisitions. Siminoff appeared as a guest Shark on the show in 2018.
Earlier in 2023, five years after Ring’s sale, Siminoff announced he was leaving Amazon. He is now the CEO of smart lock firm Latch.
The Heath brothers grew up in an entrepreneurial family, and coupled that background with their Babson education to found their one-for-one sock company, Bombas, which donated one pair of socks to the homeless for every pair sold. The Heath brothers succeeded in getting a deal with Daymond John, giving up 17.5% of their company in exchange for $200,000 from John, who also provided financing for inventory.
The company has since expanded to other types of clothing. To date, it has donated more than 100 million clothing items to those in need.
Nadine Habayeb and her partner, Priyal Bhartia, brought their popped water lily seed snack to life over the course of Habayeb’s time at Babson. She handled the Sharks solo, as Bhartia was very pregnant during filming, earning even more respect from her would-be investors. Habayeb scored a deal from O’Leary: $200,000 as a loan with 9% interest over three years, in exchange for 8% equity.
In late 2022, Habayeb announced that, after years of growth, Bohana was purchased by Boon Distribution, a family-owned, Texas-based distributor.
At the age of 15, Max Feber discovered a problem he felt he could help solve: Why was making cold brew coffee so unnecessarily difficult? This problem-solving attitude brought him all the way to “Shark Tank” with his company, BRUW, the mess-free cold brewing filter. Feber pitched BRUW and received a deal with Mark Cuban of $50,000 for 30% of his company.
In 2020, Feber sold BRUW to Snarky Tea. He currently is the co-founder of Bellwether, a platform to empower grassroots community organizers.
Abby Speicher Carroll came to Babson with the goal of starting a business. While here, she founded DARTDrones, a national leader in drone training, consultation, and expert support for new drone pilots. Carroll was offered $300,000 for 10% of her company from Mark Cuban, but later turned the deal down. Today, DARTDrones offers training in more than 30 cities across the United States.
Former NFL player and alumnus of The Entrepreneurship Boot Camp, a Babson Executive Education program, Nate Lawrie went on “Shark Tank” to pitch his business, Brazyn Life, which offered a portable foam roller called The Morph. He received a $250,000 deal with Sharks Lori Greiner and Sara Blakely for 20% equity. Brazyn Life has since added new products, including a massager, and remains an active and successful business.
As an MBA student, Sanjiv Patel took an unpaid internship at Stacy’s Pita Chips, which he parlayed into a full-time role as director of finance. After the company’s sale to Frito Lay, he founded Holy Cow LLC, and its brand, Lord Nut Levington, a collection of creatively flavored peanut varieties. He didn’t walk away from “Shark Tank” with a deal, but at its peak, Lord Nut was sold in about 2,000 stores. Patel closed the business in 2018.
Having grown up on a farm, Cameron Sheldrake craved a fresh flavor in his food. So he decided to make his own tortilla chips using sweet corn, similar to the kind his parents raised. He appeared on “Shark Tank” in 2014, though he didn’t secure a deal. Off the Cob Tortilla products would go on to be found in stores nationwide before the business was eventually closed.
During his sophomore year at Babson, David Zamarin appeared on “Shark Tank” to pitch DetraPel, a nanotechnology protective coatings company. The founder struck a deal with Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner for $200,000 for 25 percent of his company.
Last month, DetraPel announced the completion of a $7.6 million Series A funding round, capital that is earmarked to scale up its commercial coatings production.
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