Have you tried using ankle weights and arm weights during workouts? They certainly make workouts more challenging, but let’s face it, most of them look clunky and ugly.
This is what inspired the founders of Bala Bangles to reinvent these useful workout accessories. If you’re wondering what the company has been up to since the Shark Tank episode where they got $900,000 investment from Maria Sharapova and Mark Cuban, read on.
What is Bala Bangles?
Bala Bangles are stylish wrist weight bands from Los Angeles-based activewear company, Bala.
Judging by the looks alone, you’ll know that these are not your typical tacky weight bands. Bala Bangles can be worn anywhere — from the office to your yoga class, they go well with any outfit even outside the gym. It ‘s perfect for a variety of fitness activities, such as yoga, pilates, or even physical therapy.
The Bala Bangles comes in a variety of aesthetically-pleasing colors without clashing with your wardrobe. Bala designed the weight bands to help keep customers look fashionable while staying fit.
How did Bala Bangles start?
Husband and wife Natalie Holloway and Max Kislevitz founded Bala in 2018. They knew how much weights amplify the benefits of a workout.
Co-founder Natalie Holloway is a certified yoga instructor who wanted to use weights to add difficulty to her workouts. But using dumbbells was too much of a hassle because they must be picked up and down and carefully held to avoid injury during a workout.
Arm weight and leg weights seem to be the better alternative to dumbbells. However, the tacky accessories that were available in the market look like they’re stuck in the 80s. They are bulky, ugly, and unappealing. This is why the founders of Bala decided to redesign the functional wrist weights.
The founders released their first collection of stylish weighted bands and called them Bala Bangles. Each bangle is composed of eight individual pieces of silicone-coated cast iron bars bound with an athletic elastic.
Each pair comes in three levels of weight, from half a pound up to two pounds per bangle. Of course, it comes in different colors to match every outfit for the gym, going on errands, or even going to work in the office.
Bala Bangles on Shark Tank
The husband and wife duo appeared on Shark Tank Season 11 to pitch Bala Bangles for $400,000 in exchange for 10% equity in the company.
The Sharks, particularly Lori Greiner and guest Shark Maria Sharapova, appreciated the convenience of using the stylish arm weights. But it was the company’s sales numbers that impressed the Sharks the most.
Within their first 6 months of launch, the founders revealed that their company Bala earned $260,000. The founders also disclosed that their projected income for 2019 was a staggering $2.2 million.
Even more impressive was the fact that retail giants Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom department stores already carried the stylish weight bands.
What were the Sharks’ offers for Bala Bangles?
Shark Kevin O’Leary was first to make an offer, saying he would give them $400,000 as a 3-year loan with 7.5% interest in exchange for 5% equity in the company.
Sharapova revealed that she already knew the brand because she had been using Bala’s weighted bands in her therapy sessions for her shoulder. She offered $400,000 but asked for 30% equity, higher than the Bala founders’ ask of 10%.
Sharapova also stated that she wants to split her offer with another Shark. Daymond John and Lori Greiner fought viciously to be Sharapova’s partner but Sharapova turned to Cuban and asked him if he’s interested to partner with another Shark.
“I’m listening,” announced Cuban. “Because I think you need to be fair to them first and foremost.”
Bala’s founders explained that they would not go below $3 million valuation and that they are willing to give up 30% equity only if they can get two Sharks to split $900,000 investment.
Shark Mark Cuban decided to partner with Sharapova. Annoyed by the partnership between Cuban and Sharapova, Greiner proposed her own deal. She offered $500,000 for 18% equity in Bala, effectively valuing the company at just $2.7 million.
Cuban then told the Bala founders that he and Sharapova are willing to give them what they asked for: $900,000 for 30% equity in the company.
Did Bala Bangles get a deal on Shark Tank?
Yes, Bala Bangles was able to secure a deal on Shark Tank’s Season 11 episode after a grueling bout of counter offers and fighting among the Sharks.
When Cuban told the Bala Bangles founders that he and Sharapova are willing to give them what they wanted — $900,000 for 30% stake in the company — the founders immediately said yes.
“Snakes! Snakes in the grass” lamented Greiner after the founders accepted the deal, referring to Cuban who supposedly wooed Sharapova to partner with him.
“Maria’s the devious one,” Cuban proclaimed. “She gets all the credit.”
Holloway admitted that before the show, they had checked Sharapova’s social media and said that she is their ideal customer. Having her as a partner would certainly give more credibility to the product, added Kislevitz.
What happened to Bala Bangles after Shark Tank?
Since the airing of the episode, Bala has received a lot more good publicity from mainstream media Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Goop and Buzzfeed to name a few. Their sales have also gone up on Amazon, with a customer rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars.
Their social media following also blew up after the airing of the Shark Tank episode. On Instagram they tripled their followers from 20.8K around the time of the episode to their current 66K followers as of 2020.
Founder Max Kislevitz still has a full time job as Head of Brand at Tool of North America, a creative production company, while juggling the management of Bala with his wife Natalie Holloway.
Is Bala still in business today?
Yes, Bala is very much still in business today. They are now available in 1,000 locations worldwide. They are also sold online through Amazon and through their website.
The company has been releasing new limited edition colors for Bala Bangles to go with their fun, fashionable branding.
Bala also donates to charity through their purple bangle called the Pibble Purple. It’s a 1-lb bangle in bright purple, and 100% of profit from this goes directly to Bala’s chosen animal rescue organization.
They have also released other products, such as the Bala Bars and The Power Ring. Bala also released their own line of apparel called Bend by Bala, which includes The Everyday Bodysuit and The Everyday Walking Bra.
How much is Bala worth now?
The founders went into the Shark Tank and successfully secured a deal with Cuban and Sharapova who invested $900,000 for a 30% stake, pegging Bala Bangles’ valuation at $3 million.
The actual net worth of Bala at present is undisclosed, but if we are to base their valuation on the company’s continued growth and global expansion, Bala has definitely surpassed the $3 million valuation by Cuban and Sharapova.
Lessons from Bala Bangles on Shark Tank
The founders of Bala Bangles brought the whole gang in for their pitch in the Tank. They even had dancers who demonstrated the inspiration for their product, the dated but colorful 80s aerobics era.
They handed out the bangles for the Sharks to try, which they all appreciated for its look and feel. It is important to provide good quality samples to the Sharks to let them experience what you are selling.
When it came to the nitty-gritty numbers of the business, Kislevitz and Holloway provided impressive sales and statistics. They were also able to clearly justify why they needed the funding and the partnership from the Sharks.
Holloway admitted that they wanted to have Sharapova as a partner and brand endorser because they knew their products are right up her alley in sports, fitness and fashion.
The husband and wife duo danced away from the Tank with more funding than they originally asked for. Sure, they had to give up a little bit more equity, but it was in exchange for a powerful Shark duo – Sharapova’s branding and Cuban’s network and expertise in business and marketing.