What Happened to These Oregon Entrepreneurs After the Shark Tank Cameras Stopped Rolling?


Shark Tank—that full-throated celebration of American sink-or-swim capitalism—seems to be on TV 24-7, a perpetual rerun loop interspersed with new episodes. 

This very week marks the long-running series’ 300th episode and counting, spread out over 14 seasons and spawning international imitators from Nepal to Colombia. 

The premise is simple: A rotating panel of “sharks”—venture capitalists/cheerful publicity hounds, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and real estate doyenne Barbara Corcoran—hear a bells-and-whistles elevator pitch from hopeful founders seeking investments and support for their nascent businesses, generally for a consumer-drive product with a whimsical name. Some people leave with a cash investment; everyone gets a signal boost. 

There have been big successes to emerge (Bombas socks, with lifetime sales of over $225 million, currently holds the crown) and plenty of flops—and along the way, more than a few Oregonians have tried their luck in the tank. 

In fact this year, Oregonian Tate Koenig opened the new season in late September with his second stab at getting the sharks to bite on one of his ideas (Previously, he’d tried and failed to interest the panel in his Cheese Chopper, which is like a multi-tool for giant blocks of cheese).  

This time, Koenig found a better reception with his “pizza packer”—a collapsible Tupperware for storing leftover pizza in the fridge, whether you’ve got one lonely slice left, or over-ordered and have seven pieces remaining but no room in the fridge to jam in a cardboard box. The whole thing snaps apart and together to make microwave-safe containers for bringing leftovers into the office or sending them to school for lunch. 

Koenig hit big, turning down a $1.5 million offer from Cuban which would have meant relinquishing all ownership in favor of a $100,000 investment in exchange for a 13 percent stake in his company from QVC queen Lori Greiner. (TikTok is all in, too.)  

In his honor, we’re looking back at some of the highest-profile Oregonians to pitch the sharks—where are they now? 

Appeared on the show: November, 2020 

Deal or no deal: Deal! An investment of $300,000 in exchange for 18 percent of equity in the company, from Cuban. 

Since the show: The umami-rich, shiitake-mushroom based jerky—made with avocado oil, coconut sugar and chia seeds—is still made in Portland, but is marching its way across the country from its West Coast base; it’s in Targets and Whole Foods from here to Wyoming. It’s also gotten a lot of love from food media. A writer for Bon Appetit observed that it had “changed my jerky-loving life forever” and called it “extremely snackable…chewy and meaty.” Even noted curmudgeon Larry David likes it!

Appeared on the show: October, 2020 

Deal or no deal: No deal! 

Since the show: The Portland-based technical blanket/gear company is probably the best-known local business ever to pitch the sharks, and founder Wylie Robinson knew it going in. He shot for the moon, asking for $600,000 in exchange for just 4 percent equity, and in the end, no one bit. It hasn’t seemed to matter that much for Rumpl, which makes its signature blankets out of recycled plastic bottles. Today, you can find them everywhere from Nordstrom’s to Cabela’s, in plenty of palettes, including tailgate worthy blankets in game day colorways. 

Pips and Bounce 

Appeared on the show: February, 2020 

Deal or no deal: No deal! 

Since the show: Anyone who has ever driven down Belmont St in SE Portland has seen the Pips and Bounce storefront at 8th Avenue, with its trademark yellow ping-pong balls painted on the exterior. Brothers Michael and Eugene Jung got their start putting on pop-up ping pong parties in Portland (say that five times fast) back in 2012, and opened their Kickstarter fueled lounge space a few years later. Unfortunately, the sharks didn’t share their vision and dreams of franchised Pips and Bounces have yet to pan out. These days, they’re open Wednesdays through Sundays and for private events with a tightly edited menu of bar snacks and cold drinks. 

Appeared on the show: January, 2020 

Deal or no deal: No deal! 

Since the show: While not quite the skyrocket that that other company with a soundalike name has been in our pandemic-addled times, this Keizer based company, which makes what they bill as the “Tesla of Electric Skates” is still kicking. Their contraptions can cover up to eight miles in a single hour, have a weight limit of 300 pounds and can go between three to five miles before needing to be charged. Zipping around on these puppies doesn’t come cheap: they run $400 a pair. 

Kid Runner 

Appeared on the show: April, 2016 

Deal or no deal: No deal! 

Since the show: The brainchild of a Bend-based entrepreneur who wanted to build a better jogging stroller, the Kid Runner was pitched to the panel as the first hands-free, all-terrain running stroller. Instead of pushing the kid, you pull them behind you as you run (the tagline: free your arms, and the rest will follow.) The TV VCs were skeptical that the product would ever get to market, but they were wrong: It can be ordered now via their website, and has gotten some admiring notice from the trade press (Runners’ World hails the “modern, techy design with real benefits.”) 

Appeared on the Show: January, 2014 

Deal or no deal? Deal! An investment of $100,000 in exchange for 30 percent of equity in the company, from Greiner and co-shark Steve Tisch.  

Since the show: They opened a still-going “scoop shop” in the Pearl, though our in-house taste testers in 2017 were mainly unimpressed. They are in supermarkets across-the-country, from Wal-Mart to Costco. And should you have really a lot of cookie dough needs, you can now direct order a “bulk tub” — 200 ounces of egg-free (so no salmonella worries), certified kosher dough. 

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