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Whatever Happened To The ToyGaroo After Shark Tank?

Many parents can relate to this problem: their kids have more toys than they could ever possibly play with, yet they're bored with nearly all of them. This can happen even with higher-end toys like Drive Suits, the driveable car and truck suits, or Budsies, the customizable stuffed animals, or even STEM-inspired PopUp Play sets.

Entrepreneur Nikki Pope tried to solve this problem when she appeared on "Shark Tank" back in March 2011, during the show's second season. She was there to pitch her company, ToyGaroo. The elevator pitch for ToyGaroo was simple: it was billed as "the Netflix of toys." In other words, it was a toy subscription service. Parents could rent toys online and return them when their child outgrew them or got tired of them. Each toy was thoroughly sanitized between uses.

Pope's initial ask was for $100,000 in exchange for a 10% equity stake in her company. She received two offers: one from Kevin O'Leary, who offered $100,000 for 35% of ToyGaroo, and another from Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec, who offered $200,000 for 40%. O'Leary leaned heavily on his experience with toy retailers like Mattel, which convinced Cuban to cut Herjavec out of his offer and then to make the same offer with O'Leary. Pope accepted and went into business with O'Leary and Cuban. 

So, how is ToyGaroo doing twelve years later?

ToyGaroo couldn't control costs

Unfortunately, ToyGaroo is no more. The company's website it defunct, and its social media hasn't been updated since 2014.

Thanks to Phil Smy, we have a clear picture of what went down. Smy is a software designer and web developer who helped create ToyGaroo's website and also had a percentage of shares in the company. In 2018, Smy gave an interview with the blog Failory in which he explained why ToyGaroo faltered.

In the end, it came down to costs, specifically toy purchasing and shipping. First, the company was unable to secure deals with toy makers to purchase toys wholesale–Smy said that Kevin O'Leary's promised connections to the toy industry never materialized. Second, the company couldn't agree on a shipping plan. ToyGaroo originally offered free shipping. After "Shark Tank," ToyGaroo's decision-makers wanted to start charging for shipping. Smy says that Cuban's team overruled them, since paid shipping wasn't what they'd signed up for. When ToyGaroo's decision-makers realized that there was no feasible way to continue their company, they decided to shut it down. Cuban's team did offer to buy out the company, but ToyGaroo declined. 

For Smy, going on "Shark Tank" was a miscalculation. The company never had trouble finding customers, but when ToyGaroo received the traditional "Shark Tank" bump, aka an uptick in customers after their episode aired, the company wasn't ready to handle them. Sometimes, a great idea can be done in by faulty execution.