The 18 worst ‘Shark Tank’ pitches ever

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Kevin O’Leary got quite shaken during the pitch for Pavlok in Season 7.
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“Shark Tank”/ABC

Hundreds of entrepreneurs have pitched their companies on “Shark Tank” since the show debuted in 2009, but some of the most memorable pitches are the worst ones.

They stand out for different reasons. In some, the products are ridiculous. In others, the entrepreneurs are completely unprepared or so arrogant they appear clueless.

In anticipation of the Season 8 premiere on Friday, we’ve gathered the Sharks’ least favorite presentations as well as our own picks for the worst pitches in the show’s history.


Pavlok, Season 7

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

Maneesh Sethi’s pitch went so off the rails that it ended with Kevin O’Leary calling Sethi an “a–hole” and telling him to “get the f—- out of here.”

Sethi came into the Tank asking for $500,000 in exchange for 3.14% equity of his company Pavlok. It manufactures wristbands which, through either a manual or automatic prompt, shocks its wearer when performing a bad habit.

It’s inspired by decades-old Pavlovian research, but when Mark Cuban asked Sethi if there were any peer-reviewed studies on the effectiveness of his invention, Sethi could only point to an 8-person pilot program with the University of Massachusetts at Boston (not televised) and the research that predated Pavlok. Cuban and Sethi started arguing with each other and Sethi lost his cool, once grabbing his face in frustration.

O’Leary eventually told Sethi he was intrigued and made an offer that Sethi liked. But Sethi refused it, saying, “I would take an offer from anybody besides Mr. Wonderful,” using O’Leary’s nickname. He clarified that it was indeed personal, and that’s when the altercation happened.

“Oh, well … are you all out?” Sethi asked.

“F— you,” O’Leary responded.


The Skinny Mirror, Season 8

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

Belinda James is the founder of The Skinny Mirror, a company that sells custom mirrors to individuals and businesses that makes the viewer appear skinnier than she is (James’ target audience is women). She only sold $85,000 worth of her mirrors when she walked into the Tank, but valued her company at $1 million, asking for $200,000 for 20% of her business.

In her pitch, James admitted that one could buy a slimming mirror elsewhere, and when several of the Sharks said it was a con, she tried extolling the virtues of businesses selling more products when women look at themselves trying on clothes in a Skinny Mirror.

“You can smile all you want, but the truth is you’re lying to people,” O’Leary said. “I’m out, but I also forbid any other Shark from investing in this.”


NoPhone, Season 7

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

In 2014, advertising creatives Van Gould and Chris Sheldon thought it would be fun to create a gag gift with an accompanying website to satirize society’s increasingly intimate connections to its smartphones and the antisocial behavior that followed. Their creation, the NoPhone, went from a joke with friends to an actual side gig, and they raised around $18,000 on Kickstarter for their useless hunk of plastic that was advertised as a way to help break a smartphone habit.

The guys are funny, and their satire of companies like Apple is clever, but it was painful to have to watch them go through their pseudo-pitch, for $25,000 in exchange for 25% equity. It seemed as if the Sharks were only slightly in on the joke – and it was never fully clear if Gould and Sheldon were trying to build a novelty gift business or were just mocking the process.

“There’s only one thing I hate more than people staring at their phones, and that’s dumb patents,” Cuban said.


Vestpakz, Season 6

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

When Arthur Grayer and Michael Wooley walked into the Tank seeking $50,000 for 10% of their children’s backpack alternative company Vestpakz, the only thing going for them was a couple of cute little kids modeling the product. Wooley’s daughter invented the product when she was 12, and he made a licensing deal with Grayer in 2013, landing the product in 75 Walmart stores.

The annual sales of $10,000 were anemic, especially with the context of being in Walmart, but the Sharks were intrigued by the story of Wooley’s daughter, who won an entrepreneurship competition and even made it onto Oprah Winfrey’s talk show.

The catch: All that happened in 2003, and Wooley’s daughter was now 27. The investors exploded in laughter at the revelation. The guys didn’t get a deal.


BedRyder, Season 6

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

BedRyder chief marketer George Conway asked the Sharks for $200,000 in exchange for 15% equity in his company, which makes safety seats for the backs of pickup trucks. To Conway’s credit, he’s a great salesman and he was animated and fun as he demonstrated the product on a pickup. But his answers to the investors’ most important questions left them shaking their heads.

For example, when Lori Greiner asked him if it had undergone crash testing, Conway replied, “Honestly, yes! I have done my own. By accident.” The Sharks liked Conway as a person, but the myriad of things that could go wrong with the deal cause them all to back out. “When you leave the Tank, I want you to take that truck and drive it off a cliff,” O’Leary told him.


Tycoon Real Estate, Season 6

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

Unfortunately for Tycoon Real Estate founder and CEO Aaron McDaniel, the Sharks not only hated the product idea but some of them hated the entrepreneur behind it. McDaniel pitched his real estate crowdfunding service as a way for average people to invest in real estate. He failed to convince the Sharks that it was a safe model and that he was someone to be trusted with money.

Cuban yelled that the idea was “scammy,” Barbara Corcoran thought it was “spooky,” and O’Leary – who was actually interested in making a deal – asked McDaniel if he had a criminal record. In the same way “Shark Tank” can make a company, it can break one, too.


Gato Café, Season 6

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

“Shark Tank” is not the place to ask for money to fund a hypothetical company. Adriana Montano asked the Sharks for $100,000 for 15% of her company Gato Café, a café where patrons would pay an admission fee and hang out with rescue cats while sipping a latte. If they liked a particular cat, they could then adopt one.

Montano was able to persuade them the idea wasn’t wildly far-fetched, since there are already successful “cat cafés” out there. But when the investors asked her why they shouldn’t just take $100,000 and open their own line of cat cafés instead, she couldn’t defend herself as being a valuable partner. They all passed, and guest Shark and GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman recommended she take out a loan and try opening one on her own.


Kymera, Season 5

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

There is a major difference between being an inventor and an entrepreneur, and Kymera creator Jason Woods did not prove himself to be the latter. Woods asked the Sharks for $250,000 for 20% of his electric body board company. The investors found the invention cool, but when the sales pitch went on too long they realized he hadn’t actually said anything about a business plan.

It turned out that in the previous 10 years, Woods had invested $130,000 of his own money and come up with only a prototype. He had no customers and no patent. After trying to explain that he was finally ready to take it to the next level, Cuban told him he was “full of crap,” and Daymond John told him it was the worst pitch he’d seen on the show. Suffice to say, Woods didn’t get a deal.


Rolodoc, Season 5

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

Cuban hated the Rolodoc presentation so much that he actually got up and shook the hands of the cofounders, brothers Richard and Albert Amini, just to tell them they gave the worst “Shark Tank” pitch ever.

They asked for $50,000 for 20% of a social network for doctors and their patients. Cuban felt the brothers’ pitch wasn’t for a real service, let alone a real business, and was merely a mock-up of an app accompanied by nonstop strings of buzzwords.

He told CNBC,“Typically I don’t like to be mean to entrepreneurs… but these were two doctors who I think thought they could just snow us and mislead us into thinking that because they’re doctors they’re smarter than all of us.”


Track Days, Season 4

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

If a hypothetical company has no shot on “Shark Tank,” a hypothetical movie was practically guaranteed to fail. Immediately after James LaVitola and Brian Pitt said they were looking for $5 million for 34% of the profits from their movie idea, Cuban announced he was out.

LaVitola and Pitt had a mock trailer for their motorcycle thriller, but they didn’t have a script or actors. “It is a horrifically bad idea,” O’Leary said. “I forbid you to proceed.”


Cougar Energy, Season 3

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

Ryan Custer wanted $150,000 for 30% of his company Cougar Energy, dedicated to making energy-drink shot bottles specifically tailored to single, middle-aged women wanting to date young men like himself.

To call it tacky is an understatement, but he also had only $60,000 in sales over three years. His pitch is proof that a gimmick can only take a brand so far.


The Sullivan Generator, Season 3

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

Mark Sullivan has been the only entrepreneur to promise the Sharks a share of $96 billion in profit.

He presented the investors with a series of amateur, hand-drawn illustrations for the “Sullivan Generator” and asked for $1 million for 10% equity.

Sullivan’s massive generators would be scattered across the world, he said, pulling in huge amounts of ocean water to create contained hurricanes for electricity production. Gold is a byproduct that can be collected and turned into currency, he added.

The absurdity of the invention was too much for the Sharks. No deal.


Technology Enabled Clothing, Season 3

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

Scott Jordan went into the Tank looking for $500,000 for 15% equity in his company, SCOTTeVEST, which makes vests to accommodate all of your gadgets. He initially impressed the investors with $5 million in sales, and O’Leary offered $1 million for 30%.

Jordan made a call to one of his advisers, original Apple computer inventor Steve Wozniak, and decided that the Sharks were low-balling him.

That’s where it got ugly. Jordan proceeded to point and yell at the investors, basically telling them why they’re worthless. Not the best way to build professional relationships.


Copa di Vino, Season 3

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

James Martin first pitched his single-serving wine company Copa Di Vino in season two, leaving multiple deals on the table because he found the offers too low. He did the same thing in season three. It’s understandable that Martin would turn down O’Leary’s offer of $600,000 for 51% equity during his first trip to the Tank, but his reluctance in season three was especially frustrating, since the Sharks were willing to negotiate on Martin’s terms.

He spent such a long time negotiating with the Sharks in his second pitch that they became convinced that he was merely using the show as an advertising platform and had no intention of ever making a deal. His second pitch inspired Cuban and John to start looking out for what they call “gold diggers” on the show. “I didn’t like you then, and I don’t like you now,” Corcoran told Martin.


Wake N Bacon, Season 2

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

Matty Sallin entered the Tank in 2011, around the height of the bacon craze in the US. He came to the Sharks looking for $40,000 for 20% of his company Wake ‘N’ Bacon, which made a wooden alarm clock that broils bacon set to the time you wake up.

Not only did Sallin not know basics like the cost of production, but the clock was a potential fire hazard. On top of that, the Sharks pointed out that the novelty would eventually wear thin for many bacon fans whose rooms developed a permanent aroma of grease.

At least Sallin had the composure to leave with a smile and “thank you” after O’Leary told him, “I’m going to put that in my Museum of Really Bad Ideas That Kill People.”


Attached Notes, Season 1

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

Mary Ellen Simonsen asked the Sharks for $100,000 for 20% equity in her company Attached Notes, a retractable board that you attach to either side of your laptop monitor to place your Post-It notes.

Herjavec asked her to convince him “why this isn’t the worst product I’ve ever seen,” to which Simonsen replied that the laptop business is a billion-dollar industry. She mentioned that she hadn’t actually sold any yet.

Apparently Simonsen didn’t notice that even in 2009, when she gave her pitch, there were multiple services for creating e-notes for your desktop.


Ionic Ear, Season 1

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

The Sharks agree that a pitch from the pilot episode remains the most ridiculous in the show’s history.

Darrin Johnson was seeking $1 million for a 15% stake in his company Ionic Ear. His pitch: Your Bluetooth earpiece moves around too much (this was 2009), which interferes with calls. So why not have the same technology surgically implanted into your ear canal? And at the end of each day, you insert a Q-Tip-like charger into your ear to charge the device.

Johnson was humorless and didn’t prove his qualifications. There may be a time when implanted technology will be a thing, but the Ionic Ear wasn’t going to be the pioneer.


Throx, Season 1

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“Shark Tank”/ABC

Edwin Heaven, an entrepreneur who both sounds and looks like a Vegas magician, entered the Tank looking for $50,000 for 25% equity.

His company, Throx, produced socks sold in threes so that you’ll always have an extra sock after you lose one of them. There’s nothing extraordinary about the sock quality, but hey, you get three in each pack.

The Sharks did not see it as a real business opportunity, and O’Leary called Heaven a “vampire cockroach.”