A startup founder who turned down $100,000 for his 3-month-old startup on 'Shark Tank' says he doesn't regret it one bit

Courtesy of Jack Mann‘We’ve been able to grow and bootstrap without the need for outside financing,’ said Jack Mann, pictured.
  • On an episode of “Shark Tank,” Jack Mann, the founder of earplug company Vibes, turned down a $US100,000 offer from Kevin O’Leary.
  • Today, Mann doesn’t regret the decision at all. As of 2017, Vibes had reached $US2 million in sales.
  • Even if Mann didn’t walk away with cash, he said he still gained valuable experience pitching his business.

Vibes was only three months old when its founder Jack Mann appeared on “Shark Tank” – but Mann managed to win a $US100,000 offer anyway.

Vibes makes reusable earplugs designed to preserve sound quality. Kevin O’Leary (a.k.a. “Mr. Wonderful”) was intrigued, and he offered Mann $US100,000 for 35% of the company, with a royalty of $US2 for every pair of earplugs sold until O’Leary got his money back.

Mann turned O’Leary down.

“I know that Kevin often goes to royalty deals,” Mann said on camera after he walked off stage. “I already knew going in there that that wasn’t something I was willing to take. The business is too small, and we can’t be pulling money out of it at this time.”

Today, Mann told Business Insider, he has “zero regrets” about his decision. “We’ve been able to grow and bootstrap without the need for outside financing,” he said. “I’m happy with where we are today, where we’ve grown, and where we’re going to continue to grow.”

As of 2017, Vibes had grown from an initial $US33,000 investment to $US2 million in sales.

Even if Mann didn’t walk out with cash, he still got solid practice pitching his business.

Mann hired a coach to prepare for his appearance on “Shark Tank,” and learned a technique to help him remember his pitch. Mann said he still uses the technique – which involves associating a keyword in each paragraph of your speech with a different image – today, when he gives presentations.

What’s more, Mann said the viewer feedback he received after the show aired helped him expand the business into new markets.

Initially, he was focused on using the product at concerts – but he learned that people were excited to use it at fitness classes and sporting events, and even on motorcycle rides. The most surprising use case he learned about was for individuals with sensory disorders and autism.

The entire “Shark Tank” experience was like a “pressure cooker,” Mann said. “It makes you think in a different way about your business when you have to present it in front of not only multimillion dollar investors, but also in front of a national audience. … It’s like going through a crash course in defending your business.”

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