Part of the mythology of Shark Tank is the so-called “‘Shark Tank’ Effect.” Once the episode airs, entrepreneurs who are used to doing business out of their basements suddenly get an influx of orders, crashing their website servers and either pivoting their company into stratospheric success or miserable failure when they don’t have the capacity to meet demand.
But like with any mythology, including the one that surrounds Shark Tank, the reality sometimes doesn’t meet expectation. That was the case for Shelly J. Ehler, who in Season 3 received a check on the spot from Lori Greiner for her company Show No Towels. Inspired by her own experience as a mother struggling to help her young children change in privacy while at the local pool, Ehler chose to partner with Greiner over Daymond John who also had an offer on the table.
But in 2015, more than three years after her Shark Tank episode aired in 2012, Ehler announced on her blog that she was “throwing in the towel,” figuratively, if not literally. Anyone who had followed Show No’s journey perhaps would not have been surprised by her choice to effectively shutter the company and transition into a career as a motivational speaker and author. According to Inc. in 2015, Ehler worked with Greiner for a year before they chose to end the partnership.
The details are sketchy, with the Inc. article saying of Ehler and her Shark Tank experience, “things just didn’t go the way she expected them to, or the way they were presented on TV.” On her blog, Ehler takes a more philosophical view on the entire journey, eventually saying things happened exactly as they should, if not how she would have originally wanted or anticipated.
“When my ‘Shark Tank’ deal turned to crap. I felt like such a huge failure.”
“I once cursed my ‘Shark Partner’ for kicking me to the curb. But now I thank her. She taught me so much more than she thought she did and none of it was about business. All lessons are blessings. When we embrace them, we receive the gift!”
It seems like some other Shark Tank phenoms, Show No Towels did not experience a server crash after the episode or even an influx of orders. In another blog post written one year after her appearance, Ehler described the experience of watching the program with friends and family at a local sports bar. Later, she checked her computer to discover a jam-packed email inbox, but only a trickle of orders. That “trickle,” continued, as she got support from the people in her life who told her they were proud of her.
But even that “trickle,” which never became a flood, was a positive that Ehler eventually appreciated.
“I had 400 towels ready to ship when we aired. When it was said and done, I sold about 200 towels. I had to send 200 towels to ‘The View’ as an audience giveaway. What was I given… exactly what I could handle.”
The “‘Shark Tank’ Effect” may indeed depend on the company, the product, and Shark Tank‘s particular popularity at one point in time. But apparently, the show’s network likes entrepreneurs to be prepared for increased interest after exposure from the program.
Tracie and Glen Burress, who partnered with Daymond John for a stake in their company Sock Tabs, told a local television station that ABC called them before the broadcast of their Shark Tank episode to confirm their “customer service department” — the couple — was ready for the spike in orders. They laughed at the notion they would have a customer service team to help with their business but were pleased with the response they received for their product, getting orders from across the U.S. and internationally.
Shark Tank airs Sunday nights on ABC.