Very surprising business ideas pitched on TV shows

Irene L. Joffman



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


Spelling the end for the record player, former Apple creative Logan Riley brought the house down when he pitched his RokBlok wireless portable vinyl player, a world first and the smallest ever invented, on season nine of the show. The size of a matchbox, the wooden contraption can be placed on any record and voilà. Riley cashed in with a $500,000 investment from Robert Herjavec for 100% of the company and a royalties deal of $5 per unit sold.



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


Another innovative, or crazy, toilet solution, UroClub was presented in season one to the Sharks, who pretty much giggled their way through the entire pitch. The brainchild of Florida urologist Dr Floyd Seskin, UroClub is a portable urinal disguised as a 7-iron golf club that male golfers can pee into mid-game. But UroClub wasn’t completely laughed off the show and Dr Seskin scored a $25,000 (£19k) investment for 75% equity courtesy of Kevin Harrington.



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How’s this for a cringy idea? A range of jewellery for unattached people to signal their single status. Clare Sagar and Gill Kirtland’s Tingotang line, which was pitched in season five, met with derision from the Dragons, who described it as “embarrassing” and “ludicrous”. The duo failed to secure the $129,000 (£100k) investment they asked for and left the show red-faced.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


Billed as “the most Aussie invention ever”, 2Shu is a clever piece of footwear that transforms from a flip-flop (or thong as it’s known locally) to a closed-toe shoe in seconds. Dreamt up by surfer Matthew Gillett, who wanted $105,000 (£81k) for 40% of the business, the shoe featured in season two. Shark Janine Allis loved the concept and Gillett left the show with a plum investment.



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Who knew sweetened hummus could be so delectable? The savoury vegan, gluten-free and non-dairy chickpea-based dip was given a sugary makeover by Makenzie Marzluff and presented to the bemused Sharks in season nine. Mark Cuban was blown away by the range’s four flavours – Snickerdoodle, Vanilla Bean, Brownie Batter and Choc-O-Mint – and invested $600,000 (£466k) in exchange for 25% equity.



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Just the thing for cat owners who are grossed out by stinky litter trays, CitiKitty is a kit that trains your feline friend to use the toilet instead – and it actually works. Pitched by Rebecca Rescate in season two, the cat potty-training kit was labelled “disgusting” and “crazy” by Shark Kevin O’Leary, but Rescate managed to strike a deal with Kevin Harrington, and her product has gone on to gross more than $8 million (£6.2m).



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Parked outside millions of homes, the ubiquitous bin on wheels is an eyesore that many people wish they could hide. Luckily, landscape gardener Mark O’Loughlin has the solution. His Hidbin invention turns it into a pretty-looking hedge. The product proved a winner with the Irish Dragons in season two and O’Loughlin secured an investment of $59,000 (£46k) for 40% of the business.



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For many people, the best part of a fudge brownie or lasagne is the crispy edge. Enter Baker’s Edge. A simple but brilliant idea, the pan is designed to maximise the corners, making for lots of crispy edges. The pan was pitched by inventor Matthew Griffin and his wife Emily in season five but, incredibly, they didn’t bag a deal. Still, their product has sold like hot (crispy) cakes ever since.



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This outré invention for pet owners with dogs that are too big to fit in their vehicle was pitched by Gatineau innovator Julien Venne in the first season of the Québecois show. The funny cage attaches to the back of a car or van, and has enough space for two extra-large canines. Venne’s idea, which is actually pretty cool, unfortunately didn’t appeal to the Dragons and he left sans investment.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


Like a Taser for bird food-stealing critters, Squirrel Boss is a feeder fitted with a harmless static charge that the user activates with a remote control to zap the offending rodent and send it on its way. Providing hours of evil fun for slightly sadistic birdlovers, the gadget was pitched by Michael DeSanti on season four but didn’t attract a deal. Nevertheless, numerous units of the squirrel-proof invention have since been sold.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


The Sharks really didn’t know what to make of Ryan Custer’s energy shot drink aimed at middle-age women eager to date younger men, which featured in season three. As might be expected, Barbara Corcoran was least impressed by the sexist concoction that she concluded “tastes like chalk”, and Custer left without getting the desired $150,000 (£116k) backing in exchange for 30% of his business.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


Amateur inventor Patrik Večeřa came unstuck when he pitched his Bezpečný Domov (‘Safe Home’) idea to the Czech Dragons in season four. The mechanical dome fits over buildings to supposedly protect them from tornadoes and hurricanes, but Večeřa, who has no experience in engineering, had no clue whether it would actually work and the idea was destroyed by the show’s venture capitalists.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


Inventor Darrin Johnson thought he’d snag a $1 million (£776k) investment in exchange for 15% equity when he presented his Ionic Ear contraption to the Sharks in the very first episode of the show. A Bluetooth device that is surgically implanted in the user’s ear, the gadget was described by Shark Barbara Corcoran as “the weirdest damn thing I’ve ever heard”.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


Taking a concave mirror you’d expect to see in a fairground fun house, Belinda Jasmine created The Skinny Mirror, which makes anyone looking in it appear up to 10 pounds thinner. Jasmine pitched it to the US Sharks in season eight and asked for $200,000 (£155k) in exchange for a 20% stake, but her idea was lambasted for deceiving people and perpetuating unrealistic body standards.



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article


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