Whatever Happened To LARQ After Shark Tank?

Whatever Happened To LARQ After Shark Tank?
Justin Wang holding LARQ bottle

ABC

California entrepreneur Justin Wang was looking to make a splash with his water bottle invention, LARQ. The product is a step up from typical filtered water bottles, as it not only purifies your water but also cleans the bottle through the use of a patented UV-C LED light that kills up to 99.99% of all leftover bacteria. The cleansing process lasts between one to three minutes, depending on the level of cleanliness users are looking for. This not only eliminates any potential harm from drinking contaminated water but also rids bottles of the odors often left behind after use.

After noticing the amount of reusable plastic water bottles his family was wasting, Wang began conceptualizing a superior alternative. LARQ’S co-founders helped develop their UV-C technology, and the company got its start in 2018, launching a Kickstarter campaign that blew up almost immediately, bringing in a staggering $1.4 million from over 12,000 backers on a goal of only $30,000. This, along with an even more successful Indiegogo campaign, shot LARQ into the record books as the largest crowd funded clean water initiative. This was followed by other campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo for a water pitcher, each one proving to be equally fruitful.

Wang was proving the viability of his idea one sip at a time — but would it be enough to secure the deal of a lifetime on “Shark Tank?”

LARQ broke a Shark Tank record

Justin Wang’s proposition for the self-cleaning water bottle LARQ hit a new “Shark Tank” record. When appearing on Season 12, Wang asked for a $500,000 investment for only 1% equity in the company. Factored against a valuation of $50 million, this makes Wang’s ask the largest ever on the show.

To no surprise, the sharks howled with laughter at the valuation. Wang justified it due to his knowledge of the $300 billion water bottle market, adding that the reusable corner of this industry was just beginning to take off. He shared more specifics about his product, stating that using LARQ is the equivalent of boiling water for 20 minutes. It was the first of its kind on the market and already had several patents, but they had been dealing with copycats in recent years. More numbers added to the credibility of the valuation: within the first year, the company made over $5.5 million, followed by $9 million the following year. They planned on bringing in $14 million by the third year’s end, with a loss of only $1 million. Additionally, out of the $6.7 million raised in other investment rounds, the company still had roughly $6.5 million in the bank.

Daymond John and Mark Cuban didn’t like that the bottle costs $95, saying that they would rather devote their resources to an entrepreneur who truly needs the money. Kevin O’Leary, Lori Grenier, and Robert Herjavec were all willing to go in together, but Wang overcomplicated the deal, and Herjavec exited. At the end, he struck an agreement with O’Leary and Grenier for $1 million in return for 4% of the company.

LARQ after Shark Tank

Justin Wang presenting LARQ next to display

ABC

LARQ’s historical “Shark Tank” ask received plenty of attention from the sharks after the show. On Twitter, Daymond John touted it as “The valuation of the CENTURY!!” Meanwhile, Barbara Corcoran, who was not in the episode, tweeted, “Whenever an entrepreneur says 1%, you know their sales must be good!” Now, with their massive deal with Kevin O’Leary and Lori Grenier, LARQ had to put its money where its mouth is and prove that it was worth the mighty investment.

While the company was already seeing rampant success, their “Shark Tank” episode gave it the extra boost it needed, especially as the world was coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We obviously reached a lot of new audiences through the show and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t help,” Justin Wang said in an interview with Forbes. “It just accelerated the journey we already were on.”

In September 2020, LARQ closed a round of Series A funding with $10 million led by investment firms Seventure and DCM. This brought a host of new shareholders into the company, including Heuristic Capital, Augment Ventures, and Tesla and SpaceX investor Capricorn Investment Group. Additionally, three-time NBA champion Draymond Green was brought in as an investor and spokesperson for LARQ. By 2022, the company was able to successfully launch the LARQ pitcher and planned on bringing in $30 million by the end of that year.

Is LARQ still in business?

Andrew Yang standing next to LARQ display

ABC

At this point, LARQ is showing no signs of slowing down. The only major hurdle the company has seemed to run into is regarding the battery life of its LED technology, with several backers on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo raising complaints about this. However, it appears that LARQ was efficient in handling the issue, as no comments about the issue have been posted on either platform in nearly a year.

You’d be hard-pressed not to find the company’s name popping up somewhere on the internet nowadays. It has been featured across countless outlets, including Today, CNN, WIRED, Dwell, Digital Trends, and Forbes, just to name a few. This doesn’t even include its many accolades. In 2022, it was named one of TIME’s 200 Best Inventions of the Year. In the same year, the company brought home their third “Best of the Best” Red Dot Design Award, this time for the LARQ Pitcher PureVis and the LARQ Bottle Filtered.

LARQ’s product line continues to grow. In May 2023, the team introduced the LARQ Bottle Flip Top, which added an easily accessible straw feature to the design. This, along with other bottles, pitchers, filters, and a range of accessories, can be found on the company’s website and Amazon. Currently, LARQ is estimated to have a net worth of between $30 and $50 million. With such widespread success, where could LARQ possibly go next?

What’s next for LARQ?

Justin Wang demonstrating LARQ Pitcher

ABC

In just a few short years, LARQ has managed to not only find its own success, but it has also become a rising force in the water bottle industry. And yet, even after the company’s many strides, co-founder Justin Wang still thinks that LARQ can reach a wider audience.

Undeniably, the biggest wall between most average consumers and LARQ is its hefty price tag. With its flagship product currently costing $99, it’s not something that most people are likely to invest in, even considering its amazing benefits. This was also an issue expressed by Daymond John and Mark Cuban during Wang’s “Shark Tank” pitch. Wang, who commented on the show that he also came from a struggling family, is not blind to the high ask and eventually hopes they can find a way to remedy this issue.

In a 2019 interview with Medium, Wang stated, “As we grow in volume, we hope to introduce new versions of the product with more functionality and a more accessible price point. Today, the technology is quite cutting edge and expensive to produce but we hope to introduce models with a range of functionality and price points over time.” The introduction of the more affordable LARQ Bottle Flip Top and Twist Top helped move the company in this direction, but we have yet to see similar shifts for LARQ’s more sophisticated purification bottles. Hopefully, as time goes on, such a change can take place so we can all drink a little bit cleaner.

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