I’m a fan of Shark Tank and have watched virtually every episode since the show debuted in 2009. I love the presentation styles, the negotiations and the updates about companies that have soared to new heights after getting a deal. One of the more memorable deals happened in season six when Kate Steadman and Sharon Bui entered the tank singing a song and asking the sharks for $100,000 in exchange for 20% of their company, Frill Clothing. The two college students started the business in 2012 to supply custom dresses to sororities seeking a uniform look for their members. Investors Barbara Corcoran and Kevin O’Leary offered the pair $100K for 30% equity and the deal was done. Home run; right?
Nope. Turns out Frill Clothing has apparently tanked and is now on auction via Flippa, a business brokerage site. It sits at just $1,100 with 10 bids. The auction posting tells a story – or maybe a few stories. Getting a deal doesn’t necessarily guarantee success and even if you grab the investment cash, the spotlight, the web traffic, the click-throughs and the sales, it doesn’t last if you don’t make the right moves to sustain the growth.
But here’s the other thing: don’t believe your own press. In January 2016, a textile trade publication wrote about how Frill Clothing was soaring. According to the FrillClothing.com auction listing on Flippa, it wasn’t and instead posted a $10,000 loss that month on top of a $2,000 loss in December 2015. The company reported just $247 in revenue for the last 3 months.
Whatever the outcome of the online auction (there’s still 20 days left), I’m sure that Kate Steadman and Sharon Bui learned lots of lessons they’ll carry forward into their next endeavor and some lucky entrepreneur just might start off 2017 with an opportunity to resuscitate Frill Clothing.
Update: As of 6:00PM EST on December 26, 2017, the auction for FrillClothing.com is up to $3,050 with 33 bids placed to date and two days to go before the gavel falls and the site is sold. There have been lots of questions from potential buyers, but the seller’s responses don’t really shed much light on what went wrong. The seller does indicate, however, “To be quite clear though, the sharks are out because when they invest in a business they are also investing in the individuals that run it. Since upon conveyance they will no longer know the individuals running it they do not wish to be involved. Nothing more, nothing less. Secondly, this was never a hobby. This was a full time job for five years, has been quite scalable, and still is. That is exactly why it was able to gain the attention and investment of international investors.”