The ‘Shark Tank’ Effect: Where Are These Shoe Companies Now?
The founders of Solemates turned down a “Shark Tank” offer. When up-and-coming footwear brands Islide and Freshly Picked landed spots on CNBC’S “Shark Tank ,” they knew they it could turn out to be a case of sink or swim — or was it? While both received offers from panel members — Islide from Robert Herjavec and Freshly Picked from Daymond John — they turned them down. Exposure on the popular show has helped catapult their businesses. “It was positive experience and publicity even if we didn’t get a deal,” said Kettridge, noting that visits to its website went from 500 a day to 50,000 after the airing.
According to Kettridge, who founded Islide in 2013 and appeared on the show in 2016, Herjavec’s offer wasn’t strong enough. Since Kettridge said he’d already raised more than a $5 million valuation for the company, Herjavec’s offer of $500,000 for a 20 percent stake devalued the business. “It would not have been fair to our investors,” he said. Justin Kettridge, founder of Islide, on “Shark Tank.” Courtesy of ABC Business, however, has continued to soar. “We’ve had so many more deals come from the exposure,” said Kettridge, citing retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Lids that have come on board. And the company is now getting into the college licensing game. In February 2013, husband-and-wife team Lena Phoenix and Steven Sasha, cofounders of Xero Shoes, a collection of natural-movement footwear based on a barefoot-shoe philosophy, received a $400,000 offer from shark Kevin O’leary for a 50 percent stake in their company. However, said Phoenix, the two believed O’leary underestimated the value of their company and also walked away from the deal.
Today, said Phoenix, company sales have hit $2.7 million, with the line expanded from its original sandals to include athletic looks, causals and a series of boots set to debut this fall. In order to take the business to the next level, the company recently launched equity crowd funding. “While it’s taken several years to get to the point where our customer base was large enough to have a successful equity crowd funding raise, we already have more financial commitments than Kevin O’leary offered us, at a much more favorable valuation.” Children’s footwear brands have also had their show moments.