Ava The Elephant Update: Shark Tank Season 1, Episode 1
Did the Deal Go Through?
Barbara Corcoran ultimately made a deal with inventor Tiffany Krumins for $50,000 for a whopping 55% of the non-company start-up (as Kevin O'Leary might say, this was very much a product and not really a company). Within just a few months of the episode airing, Krumins was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, but she didn't allow this to derail her plans. In fact, it may have motivated her to push forward. Barbara appeared with Tiffany during several update shows thereafter.
How Did the Business Do After the Show?
Within a year of the appearance on the inaugural Shark Tank episode, Krumins and Corcoran were able to get Ava into CVS stores, and then Walmart, and sold the contraption online as well. Within five years Ava the Elephant had about a million dollars in sales each year. However, it appears that Barbara has invested an additional $235,000 over time in the company, with many of the additional expense of launching a new product into the medical industry being unwelcome surprises for the veteran real estate investor. Nevertheless, there seems to have been a somewhat successful exit from manufacturing and into licensing, and seems to be widely successful, with singing and talking models now available for sale. With continued innovation and overall good reviews and press, the product seems to have done reasonably well. Tiffany herself has gone on to become something of a mentor for newer inventors and entrepreneurs, especially moms. Ava the Elephant on Amazon
What Do I Think?
Given that Barbara actually invested some $285,000, all in, and further given than the product was selling about a million dollars per year around 5 years ago, and if we assume a 10% profit margin for the company (the industry average for a viable product-based company), one might assume about $100K in profits on average for the last ten years, or about a million in profits. If I was in Barbara's shoes and had invested $285K and gotten 55% of $1 million, or $550K back, I would not be overly excited, as you can probably get a similar return with more passive investing, and this sounds like it was a great deal of work for her. However, given that the company now has a licensing deal, that changes everything, and would only add to past potential profits. Keep in mind that this is all very speculative, and as a business owner, I know people tend to only imagine the rosy picture and see only the revenue, and not the pain and expense that business owners come to know and love over time.