The 'Shark Tank' founders who were called 'sock cockroaches' on national TV before landing a $200,000 deal have become one of the show's biggest success stories
- The founders of sock company Bombas appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2014.
- They landed a deal with Daymond John and, in 2017, Bombas brought in nearly $50 million in revenue.
- The founders said they didn't take the investors' insults personally because they knew it was all in the name of good TV.
"No one would want to sit in and watch one of my regular investor meetings," said David Heath. "They're pretty cordial. People are asking really thoughtful and soft questions."
Heath is the cofounder, along with Randy Goldberg, of sock company Bombas. In 2014, they appeared on an episode of "Shark Tank," ultimately landing a deal with Daymond John: $200,000 in exchange for 17.5% of their company, plus the financing of the inventory.Today, Bombas is one of the biggest "Shark Tank" successes: Heath told Business Insider's Richard Feloni that the company had been profitable since 2016 and brought in "just under $50 million" in revenue in 2017.
John told Feloni that Bombas was his best investment, largely because the company's social mission - donating socks to homeless shelters - is also good for business.
Like most interactions in the tank, the back-and-forth between Goldberg, Heath, and the sharks back in 2014 was intense - notably more so than your typical investor meeting. But the Bombas founders said they weren't especially fazed.
"What we told ourselves prior to walking in," Heath said, "is that at the end of the day, you have to remind yourself that it's a television show."
The founders' real reactions to the investors' insults weren't shown on TV
At one point after Bombas' pitch, Kevin O'Leary (a.k.a. "Mr. Wonderful") told the founders: "Guys, a $4 million valuation [Bombas had valued their company at $4 million at the beginning of the episode] in a total commodity of socks is ludicrous. And I think reality will strike because you guys are still sock cockroaches."
O'Leary added that Bombas had no market share or retail exposure yet.Goldberg and Heath said they couldn't help but laugh when O'Leary likened them to insects. "We thought it was really funny, that it was a really funny comment, rather than being like, 'Oh, we're so offended that you called us a 'sock cockroach,'" Heath said.
That's not what appears on TV. Instead, the founders are straight-faced and Heath says, "You could have said that to the guy who started Under Armour, too."
The Bombas founders were similarly tickled when the TV promotion for that episode of "Shark Tank" came out. There's a clip of Goldberg dabbing perspiration from his face with a napkin - it looks like he's cracking under pressure.
But Goldberg told me that moment really happened before the Bombas founders delivered their pitch, when they had to stand under the hot lights for 30 seconds.
"We thought it was pretty clever," Goldberg said of the producers' decision to show him sweating. "We don't really take ourselves too seriously."