Start-ups

'Shark Tank': This ex-SpaceX engineer scored a $150,000 investment for odor-eliminating shoe pads

Source: ABC

What could be a tougher problem to tackle than reusable space rockets? One ex-SpaceX engineer is trying to conquer smelly feet with NASA-tested technology.

On Sunday's episode of "Shark Tank," co-founders Taylor Wiegele of Venice, California and Sierra Smith from New York City strode into the tank, seeking $150,000 for an 8 percent stake in their company, Zorpads. Described as "odor-zapping shoe inserts," Zorpads stick to the inside soles of your shoes and block the release of the shoe's odor.

The insert itself is an activated carbon cloth, and the technology that Zorpads uses was tested by NASA to clean the air aboard the international space station, Wiegele says, although he notes the product itself is not endorsed by NASA. The founders say that their product absorbs much more shoe odor than its competitors, and lasts for up to 60 wears.

"It [the Zordpad] looks small, but it's actually filled with a ton of little micro-pores, which are a magnet for odor," Wiegele explains. "If we took all of those little micro-pores and laid them out, it would cover a full tennis court."

Wiegele explains his background, which includes working on product development at Clorox and earning five patents for inventions during his time there before moving on to work as an engineer at SpaceX. Smith, whose resume includes roles in scaling and growth, and Wiegele met at Harvard Business School.

Currently, the entrepreneurs sell their product on their website but are also launching on Amazon, Wal-Mart and Jet. They have sold over $100,000 of product since July 2017. They'd like to use any "Shark Tank" investment on branding. Smith argues that the future of Zorpads is in retail, and says their pitch is: "We can bring 40 percent of new customers to that aisle for you."

It's an answer that doesn't settle well with Mark Cuban.

"Harvard Business School ruined you guys, I'm out," Cuban says. "Nobody has foot traffic to their odor products in traditional retail, in big-box retail. So where are you going to spend your money to create a brand to drive traffic where nobody is interested in and nobody goes? That's why I'm out."

Other Sharks, though, are interested. Greiner offers them a deal, but with contingencies — she'll invest if lab tests prove the product works and if guest judge and NBA legend Charles Barkley, who wears a size 17 shoe, will go on QVC with her to demo the product. So Greiner and Barkley offer $150,000, but for a 30 percent stake.

O'Leary also offers a deal: $150,000 for 20 percent. Robert Herjavec then goes in, offering $150,000 for 20 percent as well.

The entrepreneurs counter, asking if Greiner and Barkley will come down to $150,000 for less than 20 percent. O'Leary then jumps in, revising his offer to $150,000 for a 15 percent stake in an effort to win over the entrepreneurs.

The Sharks each make their case and Herjavec revises his offer to be worth even less equity, $150,000 for a 12 percent stake. Greiner and Barkley then say that they will go down to a 22.5 percent stake in exchange for $150,000, arguing that Barkley's endorsement of the product is worth it. That seals the deal, and the entrepreneurs accept Greiner and Barkley's offer.

Don't miss: 'Shark Tank': This personal assistant quit her job to solve under-breast sweat and her company did over $1M in sales in a year

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Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."

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