ABC News reported on Monday that an entrepreneur on the network's hit show, "Shark Tank" had a multi-million dollar product that got away from the sharks. Kevin O'Leary, affectionately called Mr. Wonderful, told ABC, "Copa Di Vino, an arrow to my heart, the pain I suffer when I hear that name. I’m very frustrated with that guy. Whatever he’s doing, I could make it twice the size.”
James Martin is one of the most disliked entrepreneurs of ABC’s "Shark Tank," but he is also one of the most successful. He is the founder and creator of Copa Di Vino, a portfolio of seven different types of wine that come in a patented glass-like container made out of recycled plastic with a pull-off and resealable lid. Copa Di Vino is an on-the-go premium glass of wine that can be consumed without worrying about wasting a drop of it or having to open a bottle using a corkscrew.
Martin's family-owned winery is based in Oregon. His winery struggled for years before making a profit, and when the opportunity presented itself for him to appear on the second season of "Shark Tank," he jumped at the chance to go into the tank with the possibility of obtaining investors and expert guidance for his winery. Martin knew the odds of going into the tank, but because he was desperate for cash, he thought it would turn out better than it did.
Martin asked for $600,000 in exchange for 30 percent of his business which most people thought was a fair deal. O’Leary expressed interest, but wanted Martin to separate the patent for the container from the process of bottling the wine. Martin wouldn't budge because he was confident in his creation. He told Mr. Wonderful that the wine glass was the “special sauce.”
For his refusal to bulge and his attitude, Martin says, "I got totally demolished.” After Martin walked out on the offers and brushed off their advice, Shark Barbara Corcoran told ABC News, “He was arrogant, he didn’t listen. Everyone was giving him good suggestions. He just dismissed it as though he was talking to no one. He made every shark hate him within minutes.”
After the episode aired, Martin said his phone wouldn't stop ringing with people pitching him with offers to invest in his company. "Shark Tank" producers heard of Martin’s overnight success and offered him a rare second chance to go back in the tank. By now, Martin had more leverage because of his overnight success. However, the standoff between the sharks and Martin went into its second round when neither side budged on the very same point they were stuck on the first time around.
Shark Daymond John told ABC News that Martin was "the most obnoxious and most stubborn” entrepreneur they had on the show. “He was the first gold digger that we ever had. It was so obvious and that was when I said I’m out. This makes no sense," said shark Mark Cuban.
Even without a deal on the show, the chance for Martin to pitch his product resulted in huge payoffs. It was reported that the first time Martin was on the show his winery had done about $500,000 in revenue. Today his company has made over $25 million in revenue.
Martin says his winery is on track, and he will serve more wine than McDonald's serves cheeseburgers. Copa Di Vino now employs 150 employees and harvests 400 acres in the largest planting area in Oregon of Pinot Noir.
Martin leaves the following advice for entrepreneurs going into the shark tank: “Stick to your vision, know your plan, know your business, and know your game. Make sure no one undersells you even if they’re a shark.”