This month marks the 13th anniversary of the popular American business reality TV show Shark Tank. The show features young companies with innovative ideas pitching to some of America’s biggest investors and business professionals for the chance to close investment and partnership deals to help their businesses thrive.
D.C. has been represented on the show multiple times with companies across industries pitching the investors, or “sharks,” on their next big idea.
To celebrate the 13th anniversary of the show, Built In put together a list of five D.C.-based tech companies that have been featured on the show. Read on to learn more about what ideas they pitched, what deals closed and where these businesses are now.
Based in Potomac, CertifiKID is an online marketplace for family-friendly activities on a budget. The company was featured on Shark Tank in April of 2019. Co-founders Jamie and Brian Ratner pitched the sharks, asking for $600,000 in exchange for an 8 percent stake in the company. In the end, the Ratners accepted a deal with Kevin O’Leary for $600,000 in exchange for 19 percent equity. Today, the company has an annual revenue of $5 million, according to the Washington Business Journal.
Based in Arlington, SmartGurlz is a line of self-balancing robotic dolls that help teach kids how to code. The dolls ride motorized scooters that are controlled via a smartphone or tablet to allow kids to engage in STEM. SmartGurlz founder and CEO Sharmi Albrechtsen asked the sharks in 2017 for $200,000 for a 5 percent stake in the company. After some back and forth, shark Daymond John and Albrechtsen came to an agreement of $200,000 for 25 percent equity, although the deal never closed. Today, the company has an annual revenue of more than $20 million and a valuation of $200 million, according to the Shark Tank Blog.
Based in D.C., Surprise Ride is a kid’s gift subscription service. Each month, subscribers get a package of activities that encourage kids to interact with the world around them. Co-founders Donna and Rosy Khalife pitched their business to the sharks in 2013, asking for $110,000 for 10 percent equity. While the sisters walked away from Shark Tank without a deal, they later closed one off-screen with O’Leary for $50,000 in exchange for 2.5 percent of the company and 6 percent royalty up to $150,000. The company was acquired by Fat Brain Toys in 2018 for an undisclosed amount.
Based in Bethesda, Sworkit is a free fitness app that offers at-home personal training geared toward users’ exercise goals. Co-founders Ben Young and Greg Coleman pitched their business to the sharks in 2016, asking for $1.5 million for 8.5 percent equity in the company. The co-founders accepted a $1.5 million deal with Mark Cuban for 10 percent equity. Althought the deal didn’t end up closing, the company continued to grow. As of December, Sworkit had over 30 million downloads and an annual revenue of $60 million, according to the Shark Tank Blog.
Based in D.C., Zoobean is a subscription service for children’s books. Each month, subscribers get a handpicked book from non-traditional genres, helping children from marginalized groups see themselves in literature. Co-founders Felix Brandon Lloyd and Jordan Lloyd Bookey pitched their literary subscription service to the sharks in 2014 and asked for $250,000 in exchange of 15 percent equity. Zoobean left with a deal from Cuban for $250,000 and 25 percent equity. Today, the company is doing well with $5 million in annual revenue, according to the Shark Tank Blog. This year, Zoobean also began publishing its own original content on its app.