This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of 425 Business.

How Washington companies have fared since their Shark Tank appearances

The TV show Shark Tank can give new products and ideas wings made of money — but the show’s panel of well-known business moguls, the “sharks,” can shoot those dreams down, too.

Now in its seventh season, the show’s sharks have made nearly $1 billion worth of on-air deals to 256 companies, according to ABC.

Several Western Washington contestants have been on the show, including at least two from the Eastside.

For the record, deals made on Shark Tank are considered a gentleman’s handshake. In the end, the deals don’t always go through. Though it makes for compelling television, the high-pressure environment of reality TV can lead entrepreneurs to make rash decisions. Also, the sharks get the opportunity to look deeper in to the company before investing.

We caught up with some of those contestants to hear their stories about the show and find out what they are up to nowadays.

Photo by Rachel Coward

Photo by Rachel Coward

You Kick Ass

Contestant: Keri Andrews of Bellevue
Appeared on “Shark Tank” May 8, 2015
Andrews’ proposal: $100,000 in exchange for 10 percent of the company
Shark offer: Mark Cuban offered $100,000 for 10 percent of the company
Accepted deal on air? Yes
Accept deal in the end? Yes

Before “Shark Tank” 
Keri Andrews was always drawn to superheroes and comics. She liked them so much that in her early 20s, she painted her car to look like the Batmobile, which earned her a nickname: Bat Girl.

Fast forward to 2012, when Andrews and her friend, Alesia Glidewell, were sipping mimosas on a Los Angeles beach. The conversation turned to Glidewell’s career and she talked about her experience as a motion-capture model for the human figure Chell in the video game Portal. The makers of Portal had just released an action figure that looked exactly like Glidewell.

The mix of sand and sun (and maybe the mimosas) fueled creative thinking that ultimately led to the idea of making action figures available in all people’s likenesses.

“I’ve always loved superheroes,” Andrews said. “Alesia modeled as a game superhero. It seemed like a fun idea.”

Originally, they imagined the business to be similar to Build-A-Bear Workshop.

“The reality is the limitations of technology,” Andrews said. “It sounded like a really big undertaking. We dropped the idea for the moment.”

The next year, Andrews used the action figure idea in an MBA class she was taking. She pitched the business concept to her class, and the idea received rave reviews. Andrews, who has experience in search engine marketing, did more research and decided it was a viable idea.

She quit her job at Microsoft in March 2014 to focus on developing the company, which she had dubbed You Kick Ass. The goal was to allow people to create action figures based on their own picture, with the heads being made by a 3D printer. To do so, Andrews’ company had to create its own software.

In July 2014, Andrews put the idea on Kickstarter with a goal of raising $15,000. In just 30 days, You Kick Ass earned $47,000.

“We raised most of it in the last few days thanks to media coverage,” Andrews said.

Meanwhile, Shark Tank producers saw the Kickstarter page and invited the company to interview for the show. By September, Andrews, with Glidewell in tow, was in front of the camera filming an episode.

After “Shark Tank” 
Filming the episode so early in the business’ development caused some problems, Andrews said. Only unperfected prototypes of the product existed at that time, and there were no products to buy. Though the product was ready for sale by the time the show aired in May, many potential customers may not have ordered because they didn’t know they could.

Andrews did get a bump in sales from the Shark Tank exposure, which left the company playing catch-up on order fulfillment.

By November, the company had to stop accepting new orders and shift its focus to software development. The change has the blessing of investor Mark Cuban, who believed that the 3D software was the beauty behind this business in the first place.

You Kick Ass now is focusing on developing software for 3D printers, and also for other applications, including software that can turn a picture into a 3D animation for the video game industry.

Being on the Eastside, Andrews has many contacts in the gaming industry and is hoping to grow in that industry and beyond.

Advice 
“Make sure you really know what you’re getting into, and then embrace the fact that you still know nothing. Raise more money than you think you’ll need. You need both confidence and humility to make a business work; just don’t mix them up at the wrong time.” — Keri Andrews

Photo by Rachel Coward

Photo by Rachel Coward

Ice Chips Candy

Contestants: Charlotte Clary and Beverly Vines-Haines of Yelm
Appeared on “Shark Tank” Nov. 8, 2012
Contestants’ proposal: $250,000 in exchange for 15 percent stake in the company
Sharks’ offer: Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban offered $125,000 for 20 percent each, totaling $250,000 for 40 percent of the company.
Accepted deal on-air?  Yes
Accepted deal in the end?  No

Before “Shark Tank” 
Friends since the mid-1980s, Charlotte Clary, 60, and Beverly Vines-Haines, 74, already had undertaken ventures together. They met through their sons and volunteered side-by-side at school events. Their first attempt at starting a small business was in 1994, when they launched a mystery dinner theater.

That concept didn’t last, but the ladies moved on to another idea. In 2007, the duo started Healing Leaf, a body-care products company that remains in business.

Ice Chips Candy came along in 2009. “We were already in to health products because of our Healing Leaf business, and we kept hearing about this xylitol,” Clary said. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener. The friends use only American xylitol because it is made from birch wood.

The duo wanted to make hard candy with xylitol for their 41 grandchildren. They felt their candy was so good that it would sell on the open market.

Initially, they produced the candy in Clary’s one-car garage. Soon after, sales required they move into Vines-Haines’ two-car garage.

“We did everything in-house,” Clary said. “We made it, packaged it, sold it. We did that old-fashioned thing of cold-calling stores one by one and sending samples.”

Before long, the ladies moved into a 3,500-square-foot facility in Yelm to meet the demand.

When they filmed Shark Tank in July 2012, the pair had already done $360,000 in sales that year. They expected they would end the year with $700,000 to $1 million in sales. Their product was in all 50 states at the time.

After “Shark Tank” 
Appearing on the show was a “tsunami,” Clary said.

“We had 4,500 orders directly from the show,” she said. “That was $300,000 in sales. When the show re-aired five months later, we had another $300,000 in sales.”

Clary and Vines-Haines ended up turning down the Shark Tank deal, feeling a 40 percent stake was too much equity to give up.

Since then, the duo has moved operations to a 21,500-square-foot manufacturing facility in Tumwater and has 34 employees. Ice Chips Candy did $4 million in sales last year. They also are working with a food broker to place their products in major retail stores. They are teaming up with Sony Productions to put Goosebumps characters on their packages. Thanks to connections with Disney, Ice Chips Candy  soon will be cross-promoted with the new movie Finding Dory, which will be released in June.

Advice
“Be very conservative. We started in a garage. You don’t need the best of everything — the point is to make money. We didn’t dwell on anything. If it was working, fine. If it wasn’t, that was fine, too.” — Charlotte Clary

Photo © ABC/Michael Ansell

Photo © ABC/Michael Ansell

Henry’s Humdingers

Contestants: Henry Miller and his parents, Denise Miller and Tom Roberts, of Deming
Appeared on “Shark Tank” March 14, 2014
Miller’s proposal: $150,000 in exchange for 20 percent stake in the company
Sharks’ offer: Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec offered $300,000 for a 75 percent stake in the company
Accepted Deal on air? Yes
Accepted Deal in end? No

Before “Shark Tank” 
When Henry Miller was 11 years old, he sat next to a beekeeper on a flight. Miller heard all about how important bees are to the environment, and how the species was suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder.

Once Henry got home, he received a hive for his 12th birthday. He sold honey at farmers markets to raise money for bee preservation, but it didn’t take him long to realize that he needed something to set his product apart. An aspiring chef since second grade, Henry went to work in the kitchen experimenting with different recipes. He ended up with spicy and sweet flavors of honey.

“There were a few flavors that went nowhere,” said Denise Miller, Henry’s mom, remembering a wasabi honey that looked like snot.

The response to Henry’s honey was good. “We took it to a trade show to see if it was really a thing,” Denise said. “Everyone said it was great. It was very well-received.”

Henry’s age was a mixed bag, Denise said. On one hand, people were naturally interested in this young boy’s product. On the other hand, it was tough to convince food buyers that he and his parents could deliver on orders. One trade show wouldn’t let Henry in because he was too young.

Henry was able to show off his wares at the 2011 Natural Products Expo West, and his honey was named one of the five best new foods at the show. Following the recognition, Wegmans, an East Coast grocer, placed an order.

“We didn’t have any employees; it was just the three of us in a commercial kitchen,” Denise said. “Henry learned how to wrap a pallet on YouTube. He had to miss a day of middle school to get the order out.”

After “Shark Tank” 
Now a freshman at Washington State University, Henry was 15 when the Shark Tank episode was taped, making him one of the youngest contestants in the show’s history. He faced the shark billionaires and accepted the deal on air without consulting his parents.

The national exposure was magical, Denise said. “The bump in sales was life-changing. The online sales exploded. We sold 20,000 jars (close to $200,000 in sales) in the blink of an eye. Before that, we’d only sold 134 online orders ever.”

The investment didn’t pan out, though — the investors and Henry’s crew disagreed on certain outsourcing decisions, so Henry and his parents decided to continue the business without Mark Cuban’s and Robert Herjavec’s money.

Prior to Shark Tank, grocers would taste the product and stock it, but there was no name recognition. After the show aired, store sales increased. Henry also now sells on QVC.

“That is huge, and it’s directly because of Shark Tank,” Denise said.

Henry’s hives now are gone; he decided to focus more on the business than the beekeeping. It’s tough to keep bees in Deming when you live in Pullman, anyway, and Mom and Dad are too busy running the business while Henry’s away at school to handle the beekeeping themselves.

The family hopes to expand into the food-service business and provide Henry’s Humdingers as a condiment.

Advice 
“Believe in your idea — really believe, even if no one else does. After all, if you don’t believe in it, how can you expect someone else to?” — Denise Miller

Photo by Rachel Coward

Photo by Rachel Coward

Drain Strain

Contestant: Naushad Ali of Woodinville
Appeared on “Shark Tank” Feb. 3, 2015
Ali’s proposal: $110,000 in exchange for a 15 percent stake in the company
Shark offer: Robert Herjavec offered $110,000 in exchange for a 10 percent stake in the company
Accepted deal on air? Yes
Accepted deal in end? Yes

Before “Shark Tank” 
Drain Strain began as a solution to every adult’s nightmare: drains clogged with hair.

In 2012, Naushad Ali called a plumber to clear his family’s drain of his daughter’s and wife’s long hair. “It was $151,” Ali said. “The price seemed excessive.”

Ali, a real estate broker, wanted to find a solution to keep the plumber away, but couldn’t find anything on the market that would help him do so. The domes and baskets he found at the hardware store were unappealing.

“So I started thinking about how to blend aesthetics with functionality,” he said. Ali hired a design engineering firm out of Chicago. Eight months later, he had his first prototype.

“My goal was to make the easiest solution you could possibly want,” he said. “Something anyone from 5 to 80 years old could do. My focus is on simplicity.”

Ali focused on perfecting his product before bringing it to the market.

“You only get one shot to launch this thing,” he said. That’s when he went on Shark Tank.

After “Shark Tank” 
Ali is one of the few contestants to appear on Shark Tank with only a prototype. Because his product was not yet on the market, there was no bump in sales after he appeared on the show. His patent impressed the sharks, though, and he received two offers. In the end, he accepted Robert Herjavec’s deal.

The Drain Strain recently became available online. Ali hopes that it soon will be available at retailers, as well. He also is expanding the product line to include a bathtub and shower model. He is targeting the hotel and apartment industry.

“Every hotel we’ve showed this to has ordered a bathtub version,” Ali said. “They are excited. It solves a real problem for that industry.”

Interested hotel chains include Holiday Inn Express, La Quinta, and Hampton Inn, Ali said.

Advice 
“You have to be passionate about your product, but don’t let your passion cloud your judgment. Get objective advice up front before you take the journey. Just because it’s a patentable idea doesn’t mean it has a viable market. I have a million ideas. The critical part is being able to kill the bad ones.” — Naushad Ali

Photo courtesy Tiffany Burke Photography

Photo courtesy Tiffany Burke Photography

Lynne’s Gourmet Pickles

Contestants: Lynnae Schneller and Aly Cullinane of Tacoma
Appeared on “Shark Tank” Sept. 21, 2013
Contestants’ proposal: $125,000 for 20 percent stake in the company
Shark offer: None, but Barbara Corcoran told them they’d regret selling part of their business five years from now

Before “Shark Tank” 
Lynnae Schneller grew up making her great-grandma Toots’ pickles. The women in her family would get together each year to make batches of pickles to give as Christmas presents.

“We never made enough,” Schneller said. “Everyone loved them.”

During a 2011 rush-hour drive to her job at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Renton, Schneller realized that, with two small children at home, the commute wasn’t working for her any longer.

That’s when the idea struck: Why not sell Grandma’s pickles?

Schneller recruited her sister-in-law, Aly Cullinane, to help. It wasn’t long before Cullinane, then a teacher, quit her job to focus full-time on the pickle business.

The duo started out small, doing it all themselves: making, packaging, selling, and delivering the pickles. Soon, they were able to outsource production, which brought costs down. Schneller and Cullinane had $144,000 in sales by the time they filmed their Shark Tank episode in 2013.

After “Shark Tank” 
The two didn’t get an offer on the show, but the public response to their pickles still was huge.

“We had so many orders, our website crashed,” Schneller said. “We were inundated with thousands of emails. The whole week was spent trying to get orders out.”

The show generated about $20,000 in sales, Schneller said. It also produced more demand from grocery stores. And their appearance on Shark Tank gave them the opportunity to appear on QVC.

Now, Cullinane is president of the company,which has been re-branded as Mrs. Pickles. Products are available in retail stores, including Fred Meyer and Haggen locations, around the country.

Schneller branched out to fast food in April 2015, when she opened Tacoma’s first Chick-fil-A restaurant. She credits her Shark Tank exposure for helping her land the franchise. She competed against four other potential franchisees to win the rights to open the Chick-fil-A, she said.

Advice
“Just do it; go for it. You are going to fail, but learn along the way. Don’t let fear get in the way of your dreams.” — Lynnae Schneller

Photo © ABC/Karen Neal

Photo © ABC/Karen Neal

Wired Waffles

Contestant: Roger Sullivan of Marysville
Appeared on “Shark Tank” Oct. 11, 2012
Sullivan’s proposal: $75,000 for a 25 percent stake in the company
Shark offer: None

Before “Shark Tank” 
Roger Sullivan became a businessman in fourth grade. He would buy 5-cent Now and Later candies at 7-Eleven before school, then sell the candy for 25 cents to his classmates.

“I made a lot of money,” Sullivan said. “That’s where I first got the entrepreneurial bug.”

Years later, while watching his teenagers guzzle energy drinks in the morning, Sullivan had an idea: Why not get that caffeine into food instead? He found a commercial kitchen and worked with its head baker until they came up with what he was looking for: a convenient waffle with as much caffeine as three cups of coffee.

Sullivan started selling the Wired Waffles to local espresso stands, coffee shops, and a couple of IGA stores. He and his family also took a road trip to California, stopping at stores along the way to present the product. Meanwhile, Sullivan was invited to appear on Shark Tank. He had high hopes that the attention he received from his appearance would boost sales and distribution.

After “Shark Tank”
“The exact opposite happened,” Sullivan said. “The way it was edited, it didn’t paint me in the best light. I looked like I was reckless with caffeine.” After the show aired, 7-Eleven halted talks with Sullivan.

“My own fault,” Sullivan said. “I allowed myself to be distracted by the shiny ball and had quit doing the things I had done up to that point.”

Wired Waffles continued for another year and half until sales dried up. It was around that time that the Food and Drug Administration started cracking down on caffeine in food.

“I was on the forefront of the whole caffeinated-food front,” he said. “We were hung in the jury of public opinion.”

Sullivan has moved on. He and his family had been making apple pie moonshine for years and giving it away as gifts; friends loved it. When they tasted a bottle of moonshine purchased at the store, they were disappointed.

“Well,” asked Sullivan’s wife, Amy, “what are you going to do about it?”

So Sullivan found a distillery willing to go in 50-50 on operations. Eve’s Apple Pie Moonshine is now available in four states, and distillery operations are moving to Oregon.

Sullivan credits his Wired Waffles experience for his current moonshine success.

“I learned a ton,” he said.

Advice
“Act; take a step. Someday is now. There is no right time. There is no alignment of the stars. Take a step and try to fail. Failure is necessary to grow.” — Roger Sullivan