Chokerclub – When entrepreneurs Mike Bashawaty and Jeremy Quillico presented their innovative Float ‘N Grill waterproof floating grill on Shark Tank in 2021, they likely didn’t anticipate the wild ride ahead. Their appearance on the popular ABC show generated plenty of excitement and social media views. But less than two years later, Float ‘N Grill has essentially vanished.
This fascinating journey, from viral video fame to sudden disappearance, holds lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs. While the Float ‘N Grill concept attracted lots of enthusiasm, issues like sales figures, valuations, licensing deals, and patents all played a role in the company’s undoing.
An Overview of Float ‘N Grill and Their Viral Shark Tank Video
The Float ‘N Grill aimed to make summer grilling easier by allowing people to barbecue burgers, hot dogs, and more right from the lake or river. Here are the key details:
- The Product: A floating plastic platform with a mounted grilling station powered by a connected propane tank
- Features: Space for cooking up to 8 burgers, plus built-in prep trays and cutting boards
- Shark Tank Appearance: Founders sought $200K for 20% equity based on a $1M valuation
The segment aired in May 2021 and generated buzz and views across social media. But the company soon encountered issues that ultimately led to its dissolution.
The Origin Story of Float ‘N Grill and Their First Viral Splash
Float ‘N Grill was the brainchild of Mike Bashawaty, who came up with the idea in 2015 after buying a boat. He brought the concept to his friend Jeremy Quillico, who began researching patents.
The partners debuted a Float ‘N Grill prototype at the 2019 Detroit Boat Show, but hadn’t yet found a manufacturer. Still, their Facebook post previewing the product went viral, garnering nearly 5 million views in just three days.
But production delays meant Float ‘N Grill didn’t officially launch until mid-2020, about a year and a half after that initial hype.
Float ‘N Grill’s Pre-Shark Tank Journey to Get Buoyant
Before appearing on Shark Tank in 2021, Bashawaty and Quillico had already auditioned for the show in 2019. As Bashawaty told Hometown Life, the Sharks wanted half the company for only $100K at the time.
The duo turned down that offer, instead seeking other investors pre-Shark Tank. This meant that by May 2021, Float ‘N Grill had already been available for nearly 18 months.
Float ‘N Grill’s Viral Shark Tank Pitch Fizzles Under Scrutiny
When Float ‘N Grill landed a spot on Shark Tank in 2021, Bashawaty and Quillico asked the investors for $200K for 20% equity in the company, basing the valuation at $1 million.
The Sharks were critical, with Kevin O’Leary stating: “The sandbar community has rejected you!” They felt the valuation was outsized based on meager sales.
Mark Cuban noted they’d sold less than 100 units to date. Most of the Sharks passed, until Daniel Lubetsky showed interest.
Billionaire Daniel Lubetsky Offers a Lifeline Based on Licensing
As founder of Kind Bars, Shark Daniel Lubetsky saw potential in licensing Float ‘N Grill, saying he had connections with Weber Grills.
His initial offer of $200K for 50% equity was rejected. But his revised deal of $100K for 22.5% equity, plus 50% of licensing revenue, was accepted.
The agreement seemed promising since Weber Grills could help Float ‘N Grill gain traction through marketing and distribution networks.
High Hopes Dashed: What Happened to Float ‘N Grill After Shark Tank?
Initially, the future looked bright. Co-founder Bashawaty hinted at a Weber Grills partnership in May 2021 interviews.
The product was soon available via the company’s own website and Amazon after the airing. But the website has since gone offline, and the Amazon listing removed.
So what caused this promising floating grill business to sink suddenly? The root issue traces back to the patent.
The Patent Reissue Denial That May Have Led to Float ‘N Grill’s Demise
Co-founder Quillico handled patenting the Float ‘N Grill design. But the original patent was very narrowly focused on the magnets used.
When Float ‘N Grill later applied for a broader reissue patent in 2023, it was denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Without patent protection, Float ‘N Grill lost its competitive advantage. This legal setback likely explains why the company folded its operations shortly thereafter.
Wide Social Media Enthusiasm Despite Looming Issues
In the months and years after Float ‘N Grill’s Shark Tank appearance, excitement remained high on social channels.
A June 2021 YouTube video highlighted Float ‘N Grill as a top summer product. Even into 2023, the company appeared active and viable.
This enthusiasm shows that the product itself resonated. But the underlying business issues ultimately could not be overcome.
Key Takeaways from the Legacy and Lessons of Float ‘N Grill
The viral journey of Float ‘N Grill makes for an intriguing case study:
- The product showed real innovation in its floating grill concept
- However, sales and valuations numbers were poorly aligned
- Early licensing deals carried risk without proven traction
- Patent prosecution difficulties can sink an entire business
In the end, this floating grill company ended up sinking abruptly, without a trace. Their viral video rise and sudden fall offers cautionary lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs.
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