What happened: Mann asked for $100,000 in exchange for a 20 percent stake in the earplugs company. Kevin O'Leary offered him $100,000 for a 35 percent stake in the company, plus a $2 royalty on each pair of earplugs sold until he made back his investment.
Why he walked: "The business was young, very young, only about three months at the time of filming. I felt that it was premature to be seeking a large equity investment by most standards -- in any normal circumstance I would not have been seeking an investment. However, with the exposure from the show and the potential for powerful investors, it was well worth appearing. With that said, I went into the Shark Tank with the full intention of accepting a fair offer if presented one."
How it turned out: "Shortly after the episode aired, I realized that the way the product was presented on the show put it in a really positive light. Despite not getting an investment from the sharks, people still thought Vibes were a good product that fulfills a true need.
"We know that not all exposure on Shark Tank converts to strong sales, but ours exceeded our most optimistic projections. We were on backorder for the next two months, as production could not keep up with demand. From a financial standpoint, on the night the show aired, we made as much net revenue as we were asking as an investment. The product and my decision to walk away were validated by the viewer reaction/response as soon as the show aired, making the cash that Kevin O'Leary would have provided less relevant or necessary for the success of the business.
"This gave us the confidence that we needed to move forward and continue to build a successful business without outside investors."
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What he learned: "Walking away really taught me to not short-sell myself or my ideas. If you have an idea that you truly believe in, but you take an offer that isn't exactly what you want, you risk giving up opportunities that may come up down the road that are more aligned with your goals. Not having to cater to the demands to outside investors, who have their own goals, allowed us to take the time to explore alternative markets that our product could be sold in.
"Kevin O'Leary was interested in investing in Vibes purely based off of the opportunities for the product in the live music industry, but after our episode aired, we were able to take the product in different directions and sell it in other markets. Walking away taught me that what you think of your business at one point in time isn't necessarily indicative of its full potential, and if you can't retain full control of the business, you can have the freedom to find other opportunities down the road that may not have been present at the time you're seeking an investment. I learned not to see the opportunities currently in front of you as your only opportunities, and to trust your convictions."