Power Players

'Shark Tank': Why Barbara Corcoran invested 6 figures in a company with no sales

ABC/Eric McCandless

Barbara Corcoran, investor on ABC's "Shark Tank," has "the best people skills" of all the Sharks, according to her co-star on the show, Mark Cuban.

"Her ability to recognize the good and bad in somebody, what they'll be like as an entrepreneur, what they'll be like as a person – Barbara picks up on that stuff in a minute," he said on Corcoran's podcast "888-Barbara."

And because of this ability, Corcoran will sometimes invest in the potential of entrepreneurs themselves, rather than their product, just as she did on Friday's episode of "Shark Tank."

During the episode, co-founders Krissy Pruske and Rachel Lincoln pitched the Sharks on their children's car seat cover prototype. The cover, called Space Traveler, is like a tent, created to separate fighting children in a car, and has storage pockets for electronics, snacks or drinks. The two asked for a $100,000 investment in exchange for a 33.3% stake in their company.

Because Pruske and Lincoln hadn't started the business yet, and were pitching an idea with no sales behind it, most of the Sharks opted out of investing.

"Going into the Tank with just a prototype, we knew it was risky," Pruske said during the episode, but she and Lincoln decided to do so after having bad experiences with other investors in the past. (Pruske believed an idea of theirs had been stolen when she saw the product she had invented in a major store.)

ABC/Eric McCandless

"We learned our lesson," Lincoln said. 

After hearing this, Corcoran expressed interest, saying Pruske and Lincoln reminded her of two other entrepreneurs she invested in: The Original Comfy co-founders Brian and Michael Speciale. 

"We had two crazy guys, brothers, on last year," Corcoran said. "They pitched a stupid product that I didn't even get. It was a Comfy, a sweatshirt-slash-blanket with a hoodie, and I didn't get the product, but I liked the guys."

"And nobody wanted to invest. There was no proven sales. And The Comfy today, with my help, is doing $150 million in sales," Corcoran said.

"I happen to think you're going to sell a ton of these," she added.

Corcoran offered Pruske and Lincoln a $100,000 investment and terms they'd asked for, but with $2 per unit royalty until the initial investment is repaid. 

"I'll take you from where you are now to production," she said. "You'll have the right website, the right name and you'll have a non-naive partner, which you just really need. Because I've been used, abused and I got over it by the time I was 30 [years old], so no one will use or abuse you anymore."

The co-founders accepted.

"It was amazing to see that Barbara believed in us just as we believed in each other," Pruske said during the episode. 

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

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