This guide explores the journey of the innovative shoe company, SoleMates, after its appearance on the popular entrepreneurship reality show. Co-founders Becca Brown and Monica Ferguson pitched their unique high-heel protectors to the Sharks, seeking an investment to expand their business. While they didn’t secure a deal on the show, the exposure provided a significant boost to the brand. This article delves into the subsequent growth of SoleMates, examining its evolution, current status, and the challenges it faced along the way.
What Is Solemates Shoes?
The flagship product of SoleMates is a rubber slip-over designed to fit onto women’s high-heeled shoes. These heel protectors prevent heels from sinking in grass, provide better traction on slippery surfaces, and enhance the overall stability of the shoes. Despite an unsuccessful stint on Shark Tank, where they rejected both Sharks’ offers, the brand has gained significant traction and growth over the years.
- Innovative Design: The unique design of the SoleMates High Heel Protector is its major selling point. The rubber slip-overs blend effortlessly into the heels, almost becoming invisible, hence not compromising the aesthetics of the shoes;
- Celebrity Endorsements: The brand has received rave reviews from several celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, who called them “genius”. Such endorsements have boosted the brand’s credibility and appeal;
- Improved Comfort and Stability: The protectors significantly improve the comfort and stability of high heels, making them safer and more comfortable for long-term wear. This is a game-changer for women who love wearing heels but dread the discomfort and instability that often come with it;
- Positive Reviews: SoleMates has garnered wonderful reviews online, with customers praising their effectiveness and ease of use ;
- Limited Appeal: While the product is innovative and useful, its appeal is limited to a specific demographic – high-heel wearers. Those who prefer flats or other types of footwear may not find this product beneficial;
- Price: Some customers have expressed concerns about the price of the product, suggesting that it’s slightly on the higher side for a shoe accessory;
- Fit: While the protectors are designed to fit most high heels, there have been instances where they didn’t fit certain types or sizes of heels perfectly. This could potentially limit their effectiveness;
Who Should Use SoleMates Shoes?
SoleMates Shoes, or more specifically, the SoleMates High Heel Protectors, are ideal for anyone who regularly wears high-heeled shoes and is looking for added comfort, stability, and protection. This includes:
- Professional Women: Women who work in corporate environments where high heels are part of the dress code can greatly benefit from SoleMates. The product offers increased comfort for long hours of wear and prevents the heels from sinking into soft surfaces like grass or gravel;
- Event Attendees: Whether it’s a wedding, party, or any outdoor event, attendees wearing high heels can use SoleMates to protect their shoes from damage and ensure they can move around comfortably and confidently;
- Fashion Enthusiasts: Those who love fashion and wear high heels as part of their style statement can use SoleMates to enhance the lifespan of their favorite pairs and make them more comfortable to wear;
- Performers: Dancers, models, or actors who often wear high heels for performances or shoots can also benefit from the added stability and protection offered by SoleMates ;
It’s important to note that while SoleMates primarily targets high-heel users, they may not fit all types of heels perfectly, so consumers should check the product specifications before purchasing.
About Founders Of SoleMates Shoes
In addition to her role at Solemates, Becca also holds the primary ownership stake in Core Satellite Partners, serves on the Stylecard Advisory Board, and stands as one of the co-founders of this dynamic enterprise.
Solemates, born in 2009, was conceived with a noble mission in mind – to elevate the experiences of well-heeled individuals with every graceful stride they take. Their innovative solution took the form of rubber heel slip-overs, engineered to prevent heels from sinking into grassy terrain, offer stability on challenging surfaces, and avert stiletto-induced mishaps. The company’s inception was marked by a prudent initial investment of $ 100,000, with each partner claiming a substantial 40% stake .
Their products garnered widespread acclaim, with distribution extending to over 3000 retail outlets, including prestigious names like David’s Bridal and Nordstrom. By 2018, Solemates had already achieved remarkable progress, being invited to participate in the renowned Shark Tank television show.
The collaboration between Monica and Rebecca commenced at Goldman Sachs shortly after completing their undergraduate degrees. Their shared experiences at the firm paved the way for their pursuit of higher education at Columbia University, where the seeds of Solemates were sown. It was at Columbia that they nurtured the concept which would eventually blossom into the thriving brand we know today.
Upon returning to Goldman Sachs with a sharpened business strategy, Solemates experienced exponential growth. Their unwavering entrepreneurial ambitions soon convinced them to bid farewell to their corporate careers and devote themselves wholeheartedly to their passion project.
Their drive persisted throughout their graduate studies and their tenure at Goldman Sachs, steadily gaining momentum. As the business gained traction and popularity, they made the momentous decision to leave their corporate roles and fully commit to their entrepreneurial aspirations.
The Pitch Of Solemates Shoes At Shark Tank
Monica Ferguson and Becca Brown confidently strolled into the Shark Tank spotlight, taking their place on the stage. A brief, spirited clip of the two entrepreneurs eagerly discussing their upcoming presentation played for the audience’s amusement before the countdown commenced. With introductions completed, they informed the Sharks of their intention: seeking a $ 500,000 investment in exchange for a 10% equity stake in their venture, Solemates .
Becca kickstarted the presentation by highlighting the special bond between women and their shoes, particularly high heels. Robert, however, appeared disengaged almost instantly.
Becca expounded on how high heels offer an elongated, slender appearance to women but at a hidden cost. Monica chimed in, addressing Lori, with relatable anecdotes of uncomfortable situations involving heel mishaps, such as sinking into grass at weddings or getting caught in subway grates. As Monica narrated, a video backdrop vividly illustrated the problems she described.
The duo introduced Solemates as a clever cap designed to be placed on stiletto heels, effectively increasing the heel’s surface area and dispersing walking pressure. It was a preventative measure against heels sinking into grass or getting trapped in sidewalk crevices. Becca concluded the pitch by emphasizing that Solemates empowered women to walk confidently anywhere without fear of shoe damage or discomfort, humorously asking which of the Sharks wanted to be their “solemate” by investing in the business.
Robert inquired if Monica was wearing the clip-on Solemates, and Becca confirmed they both were. Lori noted that Becca had opted for a dark color to match her black heels but mentioned the option of clear ones. Monica, seizing the moment, revealed that the clip-ons were available in clear, black, gold, and silver, handing out samples.
Robert, inquiring about the cost, was taken aback to learn that a pair was priced at $ 10, with the trio of different-sized clip-ons he held costing $ 30. He commended their impressive profit margins.
Becca suggested the Sharks try the product before diving into financial specifics. Kevin, wearing a skeptical expression – whether due to a hesitation about delayed financial disclosure or the prospect of trying on high heels remained unclear. The entrepreneurs assured Lori they had a pair for her to test, prompting playful irritation from Robert, who felt left out.
Monica and Becca beamed as they revealed they had brought heels and samples for all interested Sharks. Mark Cuban declined firmly, but the others eagerly removed their shoes to try on the heels. Robert strutted around, seemingly at ease in heels, even joking that he felt comfortable. Monica explained the stage hazards, like grates and patches of grass, with only one Solemates clip-on, ensuring the Sharks could genuinely test the difference.
All the Sharks expressed immediate improvement in comfort. Kevin teetered around and humorously expressed his skepticism about wearing heels in general. Mark, however, steadfastly refused to join in.
As the Sharks settled back into their seats, Kevin inquired about Monica and Becca’s background. They shared their Goldman Sachs experience, emphasizing the importance of knowing where to find answers rather than having all the answers. Becca explained they sought the Sharks’ guidance because they believed the Sharks had the answers they needed.
Kevin expressed growing interest, given their background in banking. Robert, puzzled, clarified if their focus was on high heels. Kevin corrected him, stating he was more interested in banking. He stressed the need for accurate valuation metrics. Based on their investment request and proposed equity, they valued Solemates at $ 5 million. Monica appeared nervous when Kevin challenged them.
She revealed their revenue for the past year was $ 1.1 million, with a projected $ 1.5 million for the current year, impressing the Sharks. Robert couldn’t believe they could achieve $ 1 million in a year. Becca mentioned they were already selling in over 3,000 retail stores, including Nordstrom, DSW, and David’s Bridal.
She asserted that Solemates was a product women might not think about until they faced shoe issues, but once discovered in stores, it earned them lifelong customers. Monica added that Solemates bridged the gap between women’s footwear and the wedding industry, as seeing someone confidently navigating grass in Solemates prompted others to inquire and order for their special events.
Kevin inquired about their cash flow, and they disclosed breaking even with a 65% gross profit margin. Mark wanted to know their initial investment, and Becca disclosed they invested $ 100,000 collectively and raised $ 1 million from angels, friends, and family. Lori questioned the number of partners, and they somewhat evaded the query, stating they each owned 40% of the company.
Robert noted the potential challenge of scaling sales and the need for an established distribution channel. Monica explained it was a bandwidth issue, with just the two of them and one full-time operations manager handling the business.
Mark found discrepancies in their numbers. With a 65% margin against $ 1 million, they should have $ 650,000 in gross profit, but he wondered where the rest of the money was allocated. Monica revealed it went to contractors, including web developers, graphic designers, and photographers. After both took an $ 80,000 annual salary, the net profit was only $ 30,000. Kevin understood their situation.
Lori pointed out that not everyone needed their product, as many women didn’t wear high heels. She gestured to the male Sharks beside her, emphasizing the point. Monica argued that even women who typically preferred wedges or flats might want to wear stilettos on occasion, likening Solemates to an insurance policy for their shoes, protecting heels whether they were $ 100 or $ 1,000. Despite this, Lori opted out, deeming it an unsuitable investment.
Mark had concerns about the numbers adding up. To reach the desired $ 5 million profit, Solemates would have to achieve $ 50 million in sales. Finding this unattainable, he also exited the deal. Becca assured the remaining Sharks that they would never have left their Goldman Sachs jobs for a business they didn’t wholeheartedly believe in.
Daymond pointed out that even with rising sales, costs would escalate. They would need to maintain $ 5 million in annual revenue for ten years, which he found unlikely, given potential changes in demand and environments. Daymond, too, decided to pass on the opportunity.
Robert believed that Solemates could create a new category akin to Spanx, offering a product that enhanced appearance. He made an offer they might not have expected: $ 500,000 for 25% equity. Lori reminded them that Mr. Wonderful was still in play. Kevin proposed $ 100,000 at 10% equity, offering an additional $ 400,000 as a loan, effectively valuing the business at $ 1 million.
Robert voiced concern about taking on such debt as a small company. Monica asked Robert if he would consider $ 500,000 for 20% equity, and after contemplation, he agreed . The deal was sealed with a handshake between the three parties.
Solemates Shoes After The Shark Tank
In spite of sealing the agreement before a nationwide television audience, Becca and Monica ultimately didn’t formalize the deal with Robert. However, they effectively harnessed the “Shark Tank” phenomenon, resulting in a significant surge in sales following the episode’s broadcast.
Customers can enjoy complimentary shipping on orders exceeding $ 20, and they also have access to comprehensive bridal packages. Monica and Becca have diversified their product range, now offering complementary items such as odor-neutralizing sprays, customizable shoe repair kits, and shoe buffers. They have established new distribution channels, making their products accessible on an international scale.
The Net Worth Of Solemates Shoes
Solemates Shoes entered the spotlight on Shark Tank with an estimated worth of $ 2.5 million when they showcased their impressive yearly earnings of $ 1.1 million. As time progressed, Solemates Shoes experienced remarkable growth, extending their reach into an array of retail establishments, including boutiques specializing in fashion and bridal wear, spanning the nation.
Alternatives To Solemates Shoes:
- Solely Jane Shoes: These shoes offer interchangeable tops, which provides versatility and variety in your footwear without needing multiple pairs of shoes;
- Frank & Oak: This is a clothing brand that also offers a variety of stylish shoes;
- Bungee Brand: Another clothing brand that might offer shoes as part of their product range;
- Woot: An online retailer offering a wide variety of products, including shoes;
- DSW: A popular shoe retailer that also carries heel protectors similar to those offered by Solemates;
- David’s Bridal: Known for their wedding dresses, they also offer a range of formal shoes and accessories, including heel protectors;
- Solemate.io: This service matches people with different-sized feet to exchange shoes, providing a unique solution for those with this issue ;
- Who invested in SoleMates?
Becca Brown and Monica Ferguson, the founders of SoleMates, initially invested $ 100,000 each into their company. They also managed to raise an additional $ 1 million from other undisclosed investors. However, no investment was made by any of the Sharks on Shark Tank.
- Who is the most successful Shark Tank investor?
While all Sharks have seen some level of success, Mark Cuban has arguably been the most successful, with a net worth of over $ 4 billion . He’s made several profitable investments through the show, including Ten Thirty-One Productions and Tower Paddle Boards.
- Where is Solemates now?
As of 2023, Solemates continues to operate and market its patented line of women’s shoe care products. The company maintains a strong online presence and continues to receive positive reviews for its innovative products.
- What is the most successful product on Shark Tank that was turned down?
Ring, a video doorbell company, was turned down on Shark Tank but later became a massive success. In 2018, it was acquired by Amazon for over $ 1 billion.
- What Shark Tank companies have failed?
Not all Shark Tank investments have been successful. Companies like Toygaroo, Sweet Ballz, and Hy-Conn have failed despite receiving investments on the show.
- What was the worst Shark Tank investment?
One of the worst investments in Shark Tank history was arguably Toygaroo, a toy rental service. Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary invested $ 200,000 for a 35% stake in the company, but it went out of business just two years later.
- Are Shark Tank deals real or fake?
While the pitches on Shark Tank are real, not all deals made on the show come to fruition. After the episode is filmed, both parties enter due diligence, and sometimes, deals fall through during this process.
- Do Shark Tank investors get really paid?
Yes, the Sharks invest their own money into the businesses they choose to back on the show. However, they also receive a salary for their appearances in the series.
- What is the most famous thing from Shark Tank?
One of the most famous products to come out of Shark Tank is the Scrub Daddy, a versatile household cleaning tool. It has generated over $ 200 million in sales since its appearance on the show.
- What is the biggest company ever on Shark Tank?
The biggest company to ever appear on Shark Tank was Ring, the video doorbell system. Although it did not receive an investment on the show, it was later bought by Amazon for over $ 1 billion.
- How did Lori Greiner get rich?
Lori Greiner made her fortune by inventing and selling consumer products. She’s known as the “Queen of QVC” and has created over 400 products. Her big break came with the creation of a plastic earring organizer, which went on to make millions in profits.
- Who is the most favorite “shark” in Shark Tank?
This is subjective and can vary depending on personal preferences. However, many fans of the show appreciate Mark Cuban for his straightforward approach and successful track record.
- Who is the shoe entrepreneur in Shark Tank?
Several entrepreneurs have pitched shoe-related businesses on Shark Tank, including the founders of SoleMates, Becca Brown and Monica Ferguson. Another notable entrepreneur is Kelsey Moreira, who pitched her company, Drip Drop, which produces edible ice cream cones designed to catch melting ice cream drips.
Useful Video: Do The Sharks See Potential In Solemates?