When a pitch to the Sharks doesn’t go so well, would it still be possible to walk away with a deal with a Shark?
Apparently, yes. That’s precisely what happened to the founders of Blueland. Find out where they are now after closing a $270,000 investment deal with Mr. Wonderful himself, Kevin O’Leary.
What is Blueland?
Blueland is an eco-friendly subscription service for cleaning tablets and supplies. Blueland sells hand soaps and surface cleaners – multi-surface, bathroom, and glass and mirror cleaners – all packaged in BPA-free bottles.
The BPA-free bottles are meant to be reused and refilled to help customers cut on plastic waste.
The starter set for each Blueland cleaning spray costs $12 and is shipped containing one bottle and one tablet. A kit that includes all four cleaners costs $39.
When the customer runs out of product, they only need to replenish by ordering a refill tablet that costs $2 each, drop it into the product bottle, and fill up with water. This system eliminates the waste of five billion single-use plastic bottles every year.
Here’s a video of Blueland CEO Sarah Paiji Yoo explaining her cleaning products on QVC TV.
How did Blueland start?
When Blueland co-founder and CEO Sarah Paiji Yoo became a mom for the first time, she became aware and appalled by the amount of plastic waste generated from every purchase of cleaning materials alone. She learned about the sheer amount of microplastic in the waterways that could potentially end up in the water and food she gives to her child.
Yoo wanted to avoid single-use plastic but had difficulty finding good cleaning materials that were not packaged in plastic. She decided to battle the plastic problem and started Blueland in 2019 with co-founder Syed Naqvi in New York City.
Blueland on Shark Tank
The founders of Blueland walked into the Shark Tank asking for $270,000 investment for just 2% equity in their company. This placed Blueland’s valuation at a hefty $13.5 million.
Yoo and Naqvi made an impression on the Sharks when they talked about how their products can help reduce the amount of plastic waste by five billion bottles.
Guest Shark and KIND snacks founder Daniel Lubetzky appreciated the company’s vision of trying to save the planet.
When asked about their backgrounds, Yoo shared that before starting Blueland, she actually ran her own startup, Snapette. It was a mobile fashion platform that was acquired by a price comparison site in 2013.
Co-founder Naqvi, meanwhile, graduated with a degree in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. Before founding Blueland, he worked in the Research and Development (R&D) division of Johnson & Johnson.
The Sharks may have been put off by the Blueland founders’ ask but when it came down to talking about the numbers, the Sharks were impressed.
The entrepreneurs revealed that they had raised $3 million at a $13.5 million valuation from venture capital investors. They also talked about their revenue, which was over $200,000 within a month of the company’s launch, selling directly to consumers through their website.
What were the Sharks’ offers for Blueland?
Tension started to rise when it came down to the Sharks’ offers.
Shark Mark Cuban was the first one to pass up, saying, “I don’t think you came here for a deal. You’re here for the commercial. I’m out.”
Sharks Lori Greiner and Daniel Lubetzky teamed up to make the first offer to the Blueland founders for $1 million in exchange for 25% equity. This was immediately turned down by Yoo and Naqvi.
Greiner and Lubetzky then changed their offer to $270,000 for 8% equity.
Did Blueland get a deal on Shark Tank?
Shark Kevin O’Leary took the hesitation of Yoo and Naqvi as his chance to state his offer of $270,000 for 5% equity, plus 1% in advisory shares.
Yoo and Naqvi made a counter offer with only 3% equity.
The duo changed their counteroffer using the magic word that O’Leary could not resist: royalty.
The Blueland founders countered Mr. Wonderful with $270,000 for 3% equity, plus a royalty of $0.50 per kit until the $270,000 investment is recouped.
O’Leary clapped and said, “Done!”
In the end, the founders of Blueland were able to close a deal with Mr. Wonderful.
What happened to Blueland after Shark Tank?
Cuban was right, in a way, because appearing on Shark Tank did help to boost Blueland’s popularity significantly.
It also did not hurt that celebrity Kim Kardashian saw them on the show, ordered, and mentioned the brand on Twitter to her 66.9 million followers.
Blueland closed the deal with Mr. Wonderful after the Shark Tank episode that aired in September 2019. They even got him to clean a toilet for the company’s ad, as seen in this YouTube video.
Blueland is also fairly active on Instagram where they have a strong and interactive following–over 200k followers.
Can I buy Blueland on Amazon?
Blueland products are still exclusively available on their official website.
There are, however, other soap tablets or dissolvable cleaning tablets being sold on Amazon, including the Amazon Basics brand, as seen below.
How much is Blueland worth now?
In 2019, when they appeared on Shark Tank, the founders valued their company at $13.5 million. But O’Leary’s investment of $270,000 for 3% equity in the company pegged Blueland’s valuation at $9 million.
The current actual net worth of Blueland is not publicly disclosed. But given their growing monthly sales after the Shark Tank episode aired, it can be assumed that the company’s net worth may now be at least $10 million.
Lessons from Blueland on Shark Tank
Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from the Shark Tank episode where the Blueland founders made their pitch.
First, entrepreneurs should know what makes their product, company, or service different from the rest. Let the investors know why they should invest in you.
Second, give your investors some room to work with for negotiations. Yoo and Naqvi gave a wrong impression to the Sharks when they started with wanting to give up very little equity to the Sharks.
Lastly, know your Sharks. Yoo knew that O’Leary loves royalty deals. The pitch and the negotiations were not going so well, but she was able to turn it around by using the Royalty Card. Study your investors, know what kind of business deals they like, and use that to your advantage.
Do these, and you’ll have them agreeing with you in no time, just like how Blueland managed to get The Mr. Wonderful to clean a toilet.