Technology is a wonderful thing, so it comes as no surprise that people want to capitalize on it. For those looking to produce the next best smartphone app, Shark Tank has been a proven avenue to do so. Even if an entrepreneur does not get a deal from one of the sharks, the exposure can see app downloads skyrocket in the days following the show’s airing.
Of course, the appearance does not show how good or bad the app might be, but it gets downloaded nonetheless by people who have seen it and liked the idea.
Consumers quickly realize whether the app is for them, and sometimes this leads to those very customers making or breaking its success, deal or no deal. To help sort the good from the bad, we’ve compiled a list of the best apps that have appeared on Shark Tank.
Just when we think that our stressful university experience is over come student loan payments. Student loans account for more than $1 million in household debt across the U.S. and are considered by many to be the next big financial crisis the country will have to face.
Daniel Stelmach and Nick Skrzyniarz, entrepreneurs and businessmen, created ChangeEd when they noticed that their student loans were not diminishing as quickly as they would like them to. The app allows users to link their debit card or credit card and their student loan accounts. Once linked, the app then rounds up every purchase to the nearest dollar and puts the remainder money directly towards your student loan. As an example, a purchase of $2.50 rounds up to $3, with the extra $0.50 going towards the loan. It may not seem like much, but when you consider that a portion of the money goes to your loan with every purchase you make, it’s easy to see how it can quickly reduce that debt.
The pair brought the idea to the Shark Tank, hoping to get a $250,000 investment for 15% of the company. They ultimately made a deal with Mark Cuban for $250,000 for 25% that has boosted app sales, and they currently have over 20,000 downloads for Android OS.
Reading is a key aspect of a child’s development. Parents understand its importance, and so too did Felix Brandon Lloyd and Jordan Lloyd Bookey when they came up with the concept of Zoobean, an app that curates and personalizes a child’s reading based on both their needs and interests. Zoobean aims to help parents find the right resources for their child’s development. The app does this in two different ways, making a personalized list that you could then use to go out and purchase the books yourself or by taking that list and turning it into a monthly subscription that sends the books right to your home.
The app was only a few weeks into development when appearing on Shark Tank, and the team struck a deal with Mark Cuban that helped them increase their web presence and introduce a web-based recommendation tool called SmartList. Before the show aired, the deal was restructured, and more investors were brought on board. The team then took their investment and rebranded themselves as Beanstock and changed the focus towards schools and libraries while still maintaining the personal lists for consumers. The Zoobean app currently has more than 50,000 downloads from the Google Play Store.
Novel Effect is an interactive storytelling app that brings stories alive by adding music and sound effects. As you read the book to your child, the app produces appropriate sounds for the situations, all designed by sound effects professionals.
At this point, you might be asking yourself, how does that work? To put it simply, the app uses voice recognition technology, recognizing your voice and queuing up sounds based on specific words you read aloud.
Parents Matt and Melissa Hammersley came up with the idea for Novel Effect after hearing a friend read expressively from a children’s book. Kids were sure to fall in love with reading if books were always engaging and fun.
Novel Effect currently has a library of over 750 books. That library is constantly growing with partnerships with companies like The Jim Henson Company. Despite turning down a deal from Shark Tank’s Lori Grenier, the company continues to grow thanks to multiple investors, on top of the exposure they gained from appearing on the show, and now boasts over 50,000 downloads.
A major part of making the transition to college or university is finding scholarships to help fund that time at school. Yet, many of those available scholarships go unclaimed and amount to millions of dollars in funding going unused.
After receiving $1.3 million in scholarships for his own schooling, Christopher Gray, founder of Scholly, set out to help others do the same. The app, which costs $0.99, helps students sort through available scholarships. The user enters information into the app, which gives scholarship recommendations, manages deadlines, and assists with filling out applications.
Gray took Scholly to Shark Tank in hopes of getting an investment of $40,000 for 15% of the company, and his impressive pitch landed him a deal with both Lori Greiner and Daymond John. But it was the exposure on the show that quickly got things going, becoming the number one app in both the iOS App store and the Google Play Store, and holding that position for more than three weeks. The app has since made $11 million in sales in four and a half years and boasts of helping students find over $70 million in scholarship funds.
The inventor of Brightwheel Dave Vasen, came up with his idea for the daycare management app when his daughter started going to daycare. He realized that daycares need a way to manage their day-to-day operations and connect and interact with parents.
Designed for use at daycare centers and nursery schools, Brightwheel allows them to do everything from sharing pictures with parents, sending notices, tracking attendance, and creating bills. Parents can get up to the minute update on how their child is doing and invite other family members to use the app and interact with the childcare providers and stay up to date with everything the child may be involved in. The app is free to parents and makes its money on offering premium subscriptions to schools and daycares that want to use its management features.
The app started with a pilot program in 2014 that had ten different schools and daycares helping Vasen perfect the app before going public. Before making its appearance on Shark Tank, 2500 schools across the country were already using the app.
Since appearing on the show and making a deal with Chris Socca and Mark Cuban, Brightwheel has gone on to be wildly successful and now has 800,000 downloads for Android OS alone.
It’s not easy to find clothing that fits perfectly and to get it, the clothing usually needs to be tailored. But that cannot just be expensive, it can also be a giant inconvenience. Entrepreneur Miles Penn set out to change that when he created Mtailor, an app that measures custom-tailored clothing from the comfort of your own home and without the cost of custom clothing.
The app is simple to use too. Set the phone up, ready to take a video, stand six feet away from it and turn around in one full circle. The technology then uses the 3D image it creates to calculate measurements at 16 points along the body. Once those measurements are taken, you can then pick out clothing, customize it to those measurements and have them shipped to you. The clothing line features everything from t-shirts and jeans to full suits and has options for men and women.
When it first appeared on Shark Tank, Mtailor was already experiencing $150,000 in monthly revenue and had a projected total of a little over $1 million that same year. Penn didn’t end up reaching a deal with the Sharks, but that didn’t stop Mtailor, and they now have over 500,000 app downloads.
Bruno Francois wanted to create the next big app, and his background in computer science, a passion for technology, and most of his life savings help him do just that.
Cycloramic was an app that allowed iPhones to rotate handsfree, a full 360 degrees to take panoramic pictures or video. When it appeared on Shark Tank, it was already seeing successes, with $660,000 in sales and a projected $1 million for the year to come.
After they struck a deal on the show, Cycloramic began seeing a significant drop in revenue, mainly because of the change of style of the next generation of iPhone. The new generation of the smartphone had rounded edges, meaning it could no longer be set on its side to stand up.
This development resulted in not just a rebranding but a complete change in direction. Cycloramic transitioned to Car360, an app that created 360-degree images of automobiles, helping dealerships better showcase their product.
In 2018 the app was acquired by Carvana, an online automotive sales group, for $22 million. Cycloramic and the ensuing Car360 app now have more than 800,000 downloads.
Hater is an app that takes a bit of a different approach to online dating services. It pairs people together based on things that they hate.
Realizing that a career in finance just wasn’t for him, the creator of Hater, Brendan Alper, turned to comedy writing. The idea for the app then came to him as a joke, but he quickly realized that there was some scientific backing to the premise when he read a 2006 study that stated people connect well when they have something they can demean together.
Hater is a Tinder-like app that asks people to swipe up for love, down for hate, right for like, and left for dislike, and contains over 3000 topics from politics, food, movies, and music and stays up to date on trending topics. While hate can sometimes be an ugly word, there is no place for hate speech in the app. Once the user has swiped their loves and hates, the app then matches them with people who have similar interests or lack thereof and uses an algorithm to determine compatibility.
Alper used his deal on Shark Tank to launch Hater, and the app was downloaded over 1 million times in its first year. However, despite no official statement from Hater, the app has been pulled for app stores, and their Twitter account is no longer active, signaling a possible demise to the company.
The second dating app on this list, Coffee Meets Bagel, also does things a little differently, working on the assumption that the best way to meet people is through friends and friends of friends. When you download the dating app, it works with Facebook to provide dating suggestions based on the user’s network of friends. Each day you are sent a dating suggestion, at which point you have 24 hours to decide whether or not they may be right for you. If you like the suggestion, you click like; if you don’t, you click pass. If both people hit the like button, they are connected through text on a temporary phone number that is only valid for one week. This process is how Coffee Meets Bagel manages to keep everything private until the moment the two parties agree to meet.
Before appearing on Shark Tank, the app had already accumulated over 100,000 users. But this wasn’t enough to convince the sharks, and Mark Cuban was the only one to make an offer, saying he wanted to buy the entire company for $30 million, to which the founders and sisters, Aram, Da Woon, and Soo Kang said no. But not having a deal didn’t dissuade them, and to date, the app has over 1 million downloads.
Groovebook is a subscription-based photo-printing app that allows users to create and ship monthly photo books of up to 100 personal photos. Once you download the app, the photos on your phone are automatically uploaded to Groovebook. This process is similar to backing up your photos with a cloud service. With the monthly subscription, Groovebook then sends out a custom photo book with those photos once a month.
At the time of the episode, Groovebook had 18,000 subscribers in its short eight-month life, but with a small profit margin of $0.70 per photo book, they would have had to hit 30,000 subscribers to break even. This statistic didn’t dissuade both Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary from investing. After some negotiation, they reached a deal at $150,000 for 80% of the licensing rights.
The exposure on Shark Tank caused the app to explode. Within five days of the show airing, sales soared to triple what they were. In the months following the appearance, app subscriptions grew to over 500,000, making the company not only break even but also profitable.
In 2014, Groovebook was acquired by the photo-publishing company, Shutterfly, for $14.5 million. The app now has over 1 million downloads and has printed over 220 million photos.
Whether you meditate or not, there is no denying its benefits. Of course, it’s not always convenient to start meditating. That is why creator Yunha Kim came up with Simple Habit. Working at an internet startup company, Kim quickly realized the need to de-stress after a long day. Together with a Harvard psychologist, she developed an app that helps provide a calming influence for busy professionals.
App users can choose from many short meditation exercises based on what they are doing and where they are at any specific time. This approach means they can fit their mediation into any part of their day, be it while they are driving, getting ready for work, or riding the subway home after a long day. Users can access the basic app for free or sign up for different enhanced versions for a fee.
The drama was high on this Shark Tank episode, but ultimately, Kim could not reach a deal with any of the Sharks. But she took the exposure and money from other investors and created a successful app with more than 1 million downloads.
Sworkit isn’t a brand new app, but instead is the result of app evolution, coming from an app called Nexercise, created by Sworkit founders Ben Young and Greg Coleman. The pair met Ryan Hanna, who had designed the apps framework to teach himself coding. And so Sworklift was born.
When using the free version of the app, users can set the workout length and what they want to work out, whether cardio, strength, yoga, or stretching, and then work out with the exercises the app provides. The paid service on the app goes the extra mile by allowing the user to create and save custom workouts and workout history and get advice from a trainer. The Sworkit app is aligned with the American College of Sports Medicine’s training guidelines, making it more desirable than many of the other workout apps available.
While they had agreed to terms of a deal with Mark Cuban, the entrepreneurs’ ideas of the app were not the same as Mark’s, and the deal ended up falling through. It is clear now that Young and Coleman were on the right track as their app boasts over 5.5 million downloads.
Scan.me is a mobile app that allows users to create or scan QR codes. Users can create instant scannable QR codes that can be used for just about anything from a substitute to the like button to any easy way to make a purchase. The app also allows the user to access and edit codes on the fly, eliminating the need to continuously generate new ones.
Created by Garett Gee, Kirk Ouimet, and Ben Turley, Scan.me already had over 51 million downloads and millions of scans each month when the team appeared on Shark Tank. Those numbers were not enough to impress the judges, though, and they ended up walking away from the show empty-handed. Despite that, the app continued to reach the right audience and slowly but steadily kept growing. The growth and number of users caught the attention of some big players in the app industry. In 2012, Snapchat purchased Scan.me for $54 million. At the time of its acquisition, Scan.me had reached over $25 million downloads and averaged 27 million scans per month.