Though often celebrated for their creativity and imagination, people rarely give kids enough credit when it comes to innovation. Ultimately, though, sometimes the greatest minds are the freest minds.
On Shark Tank, what matters is the power of your invention, keen business acumen, and whether you can sell your dream. If your product captures the minds of the Sharks and convinces them that you can help them turn a steady profit, age is not much of a factor. Over the years, young Shark Tank entrepreneurs have demonstrated time and time again why you (and the Sharks) should never underestimate young minds.
From socks with pockets and a cold therapy foot roller to a skincare company and eco-friendly shampoo balls, here’s a look at some of the most impressive and successful ideas produced by youthful minds.
There’s an old mantra when it comes to construction. Measure twice, cut once. This preparation allows you to avoid any silly mistakes when you misalign your tape and end up with a fence post four inches shorter than it’s supposed to be. The same principle applies to digging – you measure to ensure that the hole you’re digging is the right depth. This accuracy is pretty important if you’re working in an area with gas lines or pipes.
The only issue is that it is pretty darn tough to measure a hole before you’ve dug it. Well, fortunately, 13-year-old Maddox Pritchard has the solution. This young inventor developed an ingenious product: the measuring shovel, a patented shovel with marked measurements that extend from the top of the handle to the tip of the blade. Another set of measurements span the width of the blade.
Using these measurements, you can accurately gauge the depth and width as you insert the shovel, allowing you to measure the hole far more precisely. Instead of measuring twice and digging once, you can measure and dig at the same time.
The measuring shovel remains unavailable for sale, but there’s no doubt that Maddox’s future is as solid as a rock.
This one might be cheating, just a little bit. Amanda and Hamza Naqvi appeared on Shark Tank in Season 10, Episode 16, to pitch their collectible bracelet charms awarded to kids for good behavior. Although Amanda and Hamza are not kids, it was the couple’s children – Ayaan,11, Mickey, 9, and Sofia, 6 – who stole the show with their entrepreneurial spirit and shrewd negotiation skills.
These kids are now an integral part of the company, with young Sofia sitting as a product development specialist. For that reason, we think it’s fair to call them young entrepreneurs.
Kudo Banz is an educational tool and a fun game. They are a positive parenting tool. Rather than teaching kids by scolding, yelling, or sticking them in a time-out, Kudo Banz allows parents to reward kids when they do the right thing, whether they’re thinking positively, cleaning up after themselves, or helping out a friend or neighbor in need.
After appearing on Shark Tank, Kudo Banz blew up, and demand from parents striving to be positive and to raise positively minded children grew across the nation.
Some problems just irk the young mind. At the top of the list are those that affect ice cream.
At 15 years old, Sam Nassif and Oliver Greenwald created the Drip Drop. The idea was much older – stemming back to the fifth grade. The Drip Drop is the solution to an age-old problem that everybody is familiar with. When you eat an ice cream cone on a hot day, it’s going to melt, and with melting comes runoff, and with runoff, a mess of sticky hands.
Well, these boys came up with an ingenious edible waffle ring that slides onto an ice cream cone to catch those pesky melting drips. Their deal with Barbara Corcoran didn’t close, but the boys never gave up. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Drip Drop cone is back in production. This invention is one that people will be kicking themselves for missing out on. These boys broke into the market and got their cone supplement stocked at ice cream shops directly.
Now we have to wait until somebody invents a product to shield the ice cream cone from the sun on a steaming hot summer day.
It’s a fact: people love their dogs. If you can manage to come up with a good way to profit from the love that people have for their furry canine companions, you’re in for a windfall. This market will likely never dry up.
In 2013, this mother and son duo had this thought in mind when they stepped out onto the floor of the Shark Tank. They planned to produce artisan, all-natural dog treats made to the same caliber as human treats. Ryan wondered why dog treats often seemed so unappealing. He decided to make a change and produce better treats. Ryan’s dog treats smelled so good that people were often tempted to try them themselves.
In 2013, Ryan was just eleven years old. His mother, Daniela, was helping him make his cunning business idea materialize. By the end of their presentation, they had wowed the Sharks and walked away with a sizable investment. After leaving the Shark Tank, Daniella and Ryan took their business, changed the name from Ryan’s Barkery to Ry’s Ruffery, and made it in the free market. The dog treats are now available online and in many different retail stores across the country.
It is no secret that babies love to chew on stuff. They will chew on just about anything they can get their hands on. Well, after watching her baby sister chew on all the wrong things, 7-year-old Cassidy Crowley decided to make a two-in-one baby spoon and teether for her.
Babytoon is a simple solution to a common problem, like any good product should be. The Babytoon spoon removes the long and hard design features of a regular spoon. Instead, it is rounded, soft, and made from 100% FDA-grade silicone. This spoon is made for babies, with a playful animal design and an easy-to-hold handle. It is also easy on the gums. Babies won’t hurt themselves if they bite down on the wrong part of the spoon, whether accidentally or on purpose.
The positive feedback she received encouraged her to continue developing her teething-spoon. At 10 years old, Cassidy appeared on Shark Tank to pitch the Babytoon. She wowed the Sharks with her eloquent presentation and keen knowledge about the inner workings of her business. She eventually left the Shark Tank with a deal from Lori Greiner, and the Babytoon has been growing ever since.
In this day and age, smartphones are unavoidable, which is even more true for young kids and teens. Unfortunately, most companies still haven’t quite figured out how to accommodate these phones in their clothing. Smartphones tend to be too large to slip easily into pockets and too delicate to toss into a purse with your keys and makeup.
Born out of a need to keep her phone securely stored, Sofia Overton created Wise Pocket socks – a pair of socks with secure inner pockets. Like any good piece of practical wear should, these handy socks also look pretty great. Wise Pocket Socks can also handle important pieces of equipment, like epi-pens and inhalers, for those with allergies or medical concerns.
Sofia appeared in Season 11, Episode 11 of Shark Tank where she accepted a deal from Daymond John and Lori Greiner. Her company, Wise Pocket Products, has now expanded into a unique clothing line for active kids and teenagers that features built-in pockets to keep accessories safe and secure.
After appearing on Shark Tank, these socks made their mark and are now available in every state. To give back to the community, Sofia also donates socks to children’s shelters.
There’s something a little more heartwarming about a success story when the company in question is a family business, which is even more true for brother and sister duos.
In this success story, 15-year-old Shelby Gogulski and her 10-year-old brother, Gordy, appeared in Season 7, Episode 27, of Shark Tank to pitch their line of interchangeable jewelry and accessories. This idea blossomed from Sofia’s childhood passion – making homemade jewelry and accessories for friends and family. Sofia loved expensive and fashionable boots. Unfortunately, she could not afford them. She could, however, adapt boots herself. When the duo appeared on Shark Tank, they were projected to make $360,000 per year.
Although the siblings sadly left Shark Tank without a deal, the company is doing well. When the investors passed, it was not due to a lack of interest. The Sharks stated that a new partner was unlikely to help the company. As time passed, the company continued to grow. As of today, they are still going and growing strong. Now, the company goes by the name Gracie Roze.
Gracie Roze makes jewelry, lockets, apparel, gifts, snaps, and other accessories. They have been featured on The View, in Forbes, and news stories across the country since.
Skateboards are a sure-fire way to the top. They’re cool, fun, and timeless. The only problem is, there are no skateboard racks at the doors to the school. Even worse, boards don’t typically fit into your locker. If you plan to ride your board to school, you’re in for some trouble.
Unless, of course, you pick up a Locker Board. In 2016, Carson Kropfl invented the Locker Board, a skateboard that fits into a school locker. Unlike other compact skateboards, this is a one-piece, non-folding design that still functions as a regular skateboard. For anyone who has skated in the past, this is a big deal.
He was just eleven years old in 2017 when he took the idea on the Shark Tank for the season 9 premiere. The pitch went over really well. Carson walked away with a huge deal from Richard Branson after a bidding war between Branson, Mark Cuban, and Robert Herjavec. Now, Locker Boards is a major company, signing a deal with Wham-O, the inventor of the hula hoop, the slip n’ slide, and many other childhood classics.
11-year-old Moziah Bridges appeared in Season 5, Episode 26, to pitch his fun and fashionable bow tie collection. Moziah is a young man from Memphis. When he appeared on Shark Tank, Mo was just a young boy with a passion for sewing and fashion. His ties were being sold in a few stores in Memphis, already.
On Shark Tank, he impressed the Sharks. He was charismatic, charming, and very talented. Despite leaving the Shark Tank without a deal, Mo’s Bows has grown into an internationally recognized brand. His bow ties are available across the United States, in Canada, and abroad. Today, Moziah is en route to college for fashion design studies as he prepares to pursue his dreams of becoming a fashion mogul. Since appearing on Shark Tank, Mo met Barack Obama and presented him with a custom bow tie. In 2017, he signed a deal with the NBA to make custom ties for all of their teams.
He has also appeared on the Steve Harvey Show, in O: The Oprah Magazine, on Good Morning America, 20/20, and CBS This Morning. It is even claimed that Tommy Hilfiger is a big fan of Moe’s and wears his bow ties.
Rachel Zietz stepped into the Shark Tank at just fifteen years old. Her idea? Producing high-quality lacrosse equipment. Rachel had found that conventional lacrosse equipment was not sturdy enough to handle the beating it took from hard wear and tear. So, she borrowed $30,000 from her parents and went into business producing durable equipment that could handle whatever was thrown at it. She began her company at just twelve years old.
When she stepped onto the floor, she wanted $100k for a fifteen percent stake in her company. Rachel started her presentation strong. She let the Sharks know that lacrosse was her passion. She also let the Sharks know that she had already generated over $300,000 in sales. Often, people on Shark Tank are trying to sell a brand new invention or innovative idea. Rachel wanted to take a product with a proven market and simply make it better.
By the time she was on Shark Tank, Rachel’s company, Gladiator Lacrosse, already had products available on Amazon, eBay, and its company website. Like many other success stories of the modern business era, Rachel’s company thrived on online sales and marketing.
There’s nothing more important than safety. Unfortunately, safety while driving seems to be on a downturn. With the advent of smartphones and handheld electronic devices, distracted driving is on the rise. Fortunately, a few kids came up with a solution to a serious and growing problem.
Smartwheel is a technologically advanced steering wheel. In essence, this product keeps drivers focused on their driving. The wheel is specifically targeted at young drivers keeping their hands on the wheel. The wheel has sensors embedded in its grip which detect if a driver has removed their hands. If the hands are removed, an alarm sounds. Not only does this make drivers focus on their driving, but it also teaches proper steering wheel etiquette.
The steering wheel was tested by experts at MIT, who believed that it would increase driver safety. Also, the Inventioneers, as the young group of inventors calls themselves, were invited to the White House to show their wheel to the president. The president expressed his support.
Though the youngsters impressed the Sharks, many dropped out quickly. Robert Herjavec was unfazed. He jumped on board with a $100,000 investment in exchange for 30% of the company. He also wanted to arrange a deal with a car company on their behalf.
There’s a trend when it comes to young entrepreneurs on Shark Tank. Often, these youngsters get involved in the business after inventing a product to help a loved one in pain. When there are no solutions available on the market, kids take things into their own hands.
This situation is exactly what happened to 12-year-old Ehan Kamat. Ehan was determined to help his mother heal her foot pain when he invented the Solemender. Ehan noticed that doctors often recommended that people experiencing foot pain should freeze a water bottle and then roll it on their foot. He then began to wonder why a product doing the same job didn’t exist.
Solemender is a cold therapy foot roller for treating foot pain. It can handle issues such as plantar fasciitis. The Solemender is specifically designed to do the job that water bottles only performed at the amateur level. At 17, he appeared in Season 9, Episode 4 of Shark Tank. Although he left the Shark Tank without a deal, the Solemender went on to become a big hit.
The product is now a hit and available to consumers through many different retailers.
Like thousands of kids all over the world, 10-year-old Jack Bonneau decided that he needed a little bit of pocket money and started a lemonade stand. Unlike the other kids, he didn’t set up on the street corner. He wasn’t content with sitting on the sidewalk for a couple of sales a day. Instead, he headed to the farmer’s market and set up shop with the big boys and girls. As it turned out, adults couldn’t walk past his stand without buying a cup.
When Jack appeared in Season 8, Episode 8 of Shark Tank, he struck a deal with billionaire investor Chris Sacca. Jack became the youngest boy ever to pitch and make a deal on Shark Tank. Now, kids across the country register to work in his stalls in malls or markets where they learn business skills and make money.
Today, Jack is the founder of a new startup, Teen Hustl – the last mile delivery service which exclusively employs teens as couriers. As Chief Evangelist of Teen Hustl, Jack hopes to give teens the same opportunity to work for him that he gave to children with Jack’s Stands. Now, these teens are delivery drivers on scooters and e-bikes.
On a hot summer day, there is truly nothing sweeter than an ice-cold glass of lemonade. It’s refreshing, it’s sweet, and it fills you with just a little bit of nostalgia. There is a reason that this business model has put pocket money in children’s pockets across the world for decades. It’s a tried and tested formula, and it works.
Mikaila Ulmer is not your average neighborhood kid. By the age of 10, Mikaila had survived bee stings and shark bites after securing a deal with Daymond John in Season 6, Episode 23 of Shark Tank. She’s well on her way to making more than a little pocket change.
What landed her this deal? The old classic, lemonade. Unlike most kids, Mikaila decided to take her business to the next level. She put together a delicious and wholesome recipe for homemade lemonade that was so good that she decided to bring it to the rest of the world. Her salesmanship was as good as her recipe, and Daymond John bit.
Today, her honey-sweetened, flaxseed lemonade is available across the country in national chains such as Whole Foods Market, The Fresh Market, World Market, and in a wide variety of boutique retailers.
Andrea Cao was 13 years old when her mother’s extreme back pain inspired her to create the QFlex – an acupressure and massage tool. As it turned out, the invention worked wonders for her mother. Sometimes, out of pain comes success, which was the case with Andrea Cao’s incredible invention.
Not only did the Qflex take care of her mother’s back pain by targeting specific pressure points, but it also targeted a key pressure point in the market.
Cao’s product comes with a handy diagram laying out the most important pressure points to target and the best ways to massage your back to get results. Since the product is for people suffering from pretty severe back pain, Cao wanted to keep it simple. The Qflex has a natural grip handle, an ergonomic design, and a simple two-tip setup. The simple design of this product made it a real hit. It is also comfortable, flexible, and gentle on your back.
With the help of Barbara Corcoran, QFlex sales soared to over $1.3 million in the year after the episode first aired.
In Season 4, Episode 20, 18-year-old Lani Lazzali accepted a deal with Mark Cuban for Simple Sugars – the all-natural skincare company she started at the age of 11. Lani’s based her company on a fairly simple principle: that natural products and ingredients would be easier on sensitive skin.
Like any good business, Simple Sugars was based on personal experience. As a child, Lani began to suffer from pretty serious eczema, a skin condition that causes chronic dryness. Though she worked with dermatologists, none of the prescribed medications seemed very effective. In the end, she took matters into her own hands.
Lani whipped up a new remedy based on all-natural ingredients. As it turned out, it worked like a charm. When she tested it out on others, they had similar results. Throughout her school days, Lani took her product to the masses as an entrepreneur. However, it was only after graduating that she decided to take her business all the way.
Today, Simple Sugars has grown to over $10 million in sales and continues to provide all-natural skincare products for those with sensitive skin. Ever in touch with the modern world, over sixty percent of their sales are carried out online.
Right now, there is something on almost every young mind – the environment. The youth of today are concerned that business has ignored a pressing concern. Worse yet, they believe that businesses have played a large role in environmental decline.
Like any business, Nohbo exists to fill a need. This particular need is the need for both young people and older people to feel like they are doing what they can to save the environment. To achieve this, Benjamin Stern came up with an eco-friendly shampoo that is also pretty innovative.
Nohbo is a company that makes single-use, water-soluble products. The shampoo balls that Benjamin brought into the Shark Tank intrigued the group. They remove the need for plastic bottles by using environmentally friendly containers that dissolve in water.
At 16 years old, Benjamin Stern walked away from the Shark Tank with a deal from billionaire investor Mark Cuban for his eco-friendly shampoo balls. The company struggled with its formulation initially, but after a few years in development, Nohbo is back and ready to disrupt the single-use plastic industry. The company raised a $3 million seed fund to get started.