Shark Tank: Why HyConn Founder Blames Mark Cuban For Their Failed Deal

The future couldn't have seemed brighter for Jeff Stroope when exiting "Shark Tank." The Arkansas native's quick-connect fire hydrant unit, HyConn, caught the eye of investor Mark Cuban, who purchased the entire company for $1.25 million with a three-year employment agreement for Stroope at $100,000 and 7.5% in royalties. But when the deal started going aflame following the Season 2 episode, Stroope had second thoughts about working with Cuban. 

Cuban allegedly tried making significant alterations to their agreement. Rather than putting money into manufacturing, the "Shark Tank" star instead wanted to license the product and hand it over to another company, effectively removing the entrepreneur from the plan entirely. Stroope expressed these frustrations in a 2012 Facebook post, claiming that Cuban's self-esteem got in the way of a proper partnership. "In my opinion, and in all due respect, during the recording of the show Mark let his 'ego' ... overload the reality of what he would do," the post reads. "After the cameras were off ... he realized he didn't want to come up with the money."

Despite this setback, Stroope said, "I do not have any anger or bad feeling toward Mark Cuban. This is a part of the business that I have to get thru. As it was said on Shark Tank by Robert Herjavec 'never disrespect money.'" Stroope said that if he had the chance to do it again, he'd go with either Herjavec or Kevin O' Leary, with the latter having offered $500,000 for 100% of the home version of the product and 3% in royalties on the show. The lesson was a tough but nevertheless important one for Stroope. But sadly, it wouldn't be the end of HyConn's investment dilemmas.

HyConn failed to spark after its second deal

The complications brought upon by Mark Cuban's deal put HyConn in a difficult place. While the business was receiving increased exposure thanks to its "Shark Tank" appearance and subsequent reruns, Stroope was unable to fulfill orders without a shark on board. However, a ray of hope came to HyConn's aid not long afterward, but even this ended up not going as planned. 

In the summer of 2011, it was announced that the Arkansas venture studio 101 Ventures took an equity stake in HyConn. The new direction seemed promising. The incubation company shared that it had begun the manufacturing process and was in talks with over 30 nationwide distributors. Much like Kevin O'Leary, 101 was primarily interested in the garden hose connector Stroope had developed alongside the company's flagship fire hydrant product. Nevertheless, the company was more than excited to be working with Stroope, with partner Matt Fifer saying in a press release, "We are extremely excited to be involved with an organization that has such tremendous potential for both saving lives and achieving commercial success."

Sadly, nothing has seemed to materialize from the new partnership. As a result, HyConn has remained largely inactive in recent years. It has not posted on Facebook since 2019 while its Twitter account no longer exists. The website is still running, but its products are all listed as unavailable. Since 2021, Stroope has been a Tool & Die Shop Manager for the ammunition manufacturer D&M Holding Company.