As Seen on TV: 5 Wisconsin startups featured on Shark Tank

Credit: ABC, Shark Tank

By Christina Lorey

October 30, 2023

Word on the street: Mr. Wonderful really is more wonderful than he appears on ABC’s long-running “Shark Tank.” At least that’s what the founders of Milwaukee-based American Ghost Walks said after their recent stint on the show, where entrepreneurs pitch their business to a panel of ultra-rich venture capitalists.

MORE: What’s it like to be on Shark Tank? Past contestants explain.

Over the course of its 14-year run, several Wisconsin companies have dropped by “The Tank.” But where are they now? These five are thriving:

Hyde

The Milwaukee-based company and winner of the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan contest, Hyde, appeared on “Shark Tank” in 2018. Hyde’s signature product is “the world’s thinnest and most versatile life jacket” called the Wingman. While the vest shares many of the same design principles as the first inflatable life jackets used by airmen during WWII, it’s a fraction of the size. Founders Pat Hughes and Mike Fox didn’t land a deal, but the company continues to succeed online. 

Click here to shop.

Hug Sleep

The Milwaukee-based startup Hug Sleep presented its product–a twist on a weighted blanket for troubled sleepers called a “Sleep Pod”–to the sharks. Founders Matt Mundt and his wife Angie Cupper originally asked for a $150,000 investment in exchange for a 10% stake in the company. They ended up with offers from all five sharks. They closed a deal with Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner, ending up with a $300,000 investment in exchange for a 20% stake.

Check out their products here.

Just the Cheese

The Reeseville-based cheese snack company Just the Cheese impressed the sharks with its early figures—$3.5 million in its first year in 2018 and 400-700 boxes of cheese snacks sold on Amazon per day. Both Kevin O’Leary and Mark Cuban presented offers, but founder David Scharfman politely declined, not wanting to give up the level of equity they were asking for. Just the Cheese has since been featured in The New York Times and the Today Show, and you’ve probably seen its baked cheese strips on the shelves at your local grocery store!

Browse their products.

The Kombucha Shop

The Kombucha Shop landed a deal with Barbara Corcoran and Sara Blakely during its appearance on the show. Founded in 2014, the Madison-based online store sells kits for home-brewing kombucha, a fermented tea drink. Corcoran and Blakely invested $200,000 in the business for 10% equity, plus they provided a $150,000 line of credit.

Click here to shop online.

MobCraft Beer

MobCraft Beer, a brewing company that specializes in unusual beer, was the first Wisconsin startup to appear on the show. The company, now located in Milwaukee, creates beers suggested by customers, who also vote for the options they like best. Though MobCraft didn’t leave “The Tank” with a deal, the company’s orders tripled following its TV appearance.

Click here to check out the latest flavors.

RELATED: 7 cliches the ‘Sharks’ always use on Shark Tank (& what they really mean)

Author

  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

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