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‘Shark Tank’: Mark Cuban invested 6 figures in a company that turned just $300 into $294,000 in sales in a year

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Mark Cuban on ABC's "Shark Tank"
Jessica Brooks

Adam and Katie Stephey, a husband-and-wife duo from Normal, Illinois, appeared on Friday's episode of ABC's "Shark Tank" with a pitch the Sharks thought was a joke — but the co-founders ended up with a six-figure investment from Mark Cuban.

"Introducing our most successful product to date, the Toilet Timer," Adam told the Sharks. "This is a sand timer that I invented. It gives you about five minutes to do your business, so you don't miss anything important."

Adam thought to create the Toilet Timer after he realized he was spending too much time in the bathroom, he said. "It's primarily a gag gift."

All five investors were skeptical – "Oh hell no," Cuban said at first, and Barbara Corcoran added, "You can't be serious."

But, after Adam revealed the product's sales, the Sharks were intrigued.

With $300, Adam started his company called Katamco, which sells the Toilet Timer, in 2017, he said, but sales of the timer began to pick up in 2019 during the holiday season. As a result, he generated $294,000 in sales that year, he said, and projects that by end of 2020, he will make $1 to $3 million in sales. At the time of filming, the company had already made $318,000 in sales, he said.

"What has happened over the past two Christmases is Amazon's algorithms have picked up that people like this and they buy it, so last Christmas, I didn't spend a dime on advertising," Adam said, adding that in December 2019, the timer generated $250,000 in sales alone.

It costs "just under $3" to make the Toilet Timer, and it sells for $14.99, he said.

"I used to poo-poo these kind of tchotchke ideas until I got into Potato Parcel," a company which sells potatoes with handwritten messages on them, Kevin O'Leary said. "Now, I'm not laughing anymore, because I get a big check every month."

Despite this, most of the Sharks were not sold.

"You're thinking this is a business. It ain't. It's a gimmick. You can make a certain amount of sales, and it's going to burn out," Corcoran said and opted out of a deal. Along with her, O'Leary, Lori Greiner and Daymond John also opted out.

However, Cuban remained interested, saying he "always dreamed" of adding a Toilet Timer to his portfolio.

"What I like about this is, there's always going to be Father's Day. There's always going to be a need for gags. So, I like it. I'll offer you $200,000 for 25%," Cuban said. Adam and Katie initially asked for a $200,000 investment in exchange for 10% equity, but accepted Cuban's offer.

"What a surprise ending," Corcoran said.

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

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