Ice Shaker: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

When Chris Gronkowski retired from his professional football career with the NFL in 2016, he stayed active by working out at the gym. And it was here he discovered one huge pet peeve — having to deal with shoddy shaker bottles, aka the bottles used by athletes, weightlifters, and bodybuilders to hold blended drinks like protein shakes, hydration packs, or supplement mixes. The idea behind shaker bottles is they are supposed to keep beverages cold and any mix well-blended. But, Gronkowski found that none he had tried did a good job at either task, so he set out to create his own.

Gronkowski was particularly annoyed by the uninsulated, cheap plastic bottles that did not keep drinks cold. They would also often leak or break, and would smell bad after only a few uses. He eventually came up with a far superior product that didn't suffer from any of those problems: the Ice Shaker. His double-walled and vacuum-insulated design enables the container to hold ice for 30-plus hours and keeps the outside from "sweating" condensation. Plus, The Ice Shaker is made of stainless steel, which does not absorb odors, and a patented agitator inside keeps drinks blended, with internal measurements that take the guesswork out of mixing drinks. The design also features a pop-top lid and a folding carry handle, and it fits most cup holders.

After only six months in business, the Ice Shaker's sales had reached nearly $80,000. So, Gronkowski decided to take his product on "Shark Tank" for extra exposure and the business know-how he could glean from the sharks.

What happened to Ice Shaker on 'Shark Tank'?

When he appeared on Season 9, Episode 4 of "Shark Tank" in 2017, Ice Shaker founder Chris Gronkowski at first only provided his first name, leaving his famous surname out of his pitch. However, he brought along a few people to help demonstrate, with his pitch turning into a literal bro fest as a stampede of hooting and hollering Gronkowskis rushed the stage. It's then that the sharks realized the man before them was part of the sports family collectively known as the Gronks. Brothers Rob, Dan, Chris, and Glenn are all famous NFL stars, while Gordie plays professional baseball. 

Chris Gronkowski came on asking for $100,000 for a 10% stake in the business. Having only been active less than a year, The Ice Shaker didn't have much sales data yet other than the $80,000 in initial sales. Even so, all the sharks ending up making offers, which is very rare.

Kevin O'Leary was first to bid, offering $100,000 for 20% of the business, but also stipulating that the Gronk name be on the bottle. Guest Shark Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez of MLB fame went in with Mark Cuban (himself an owner of an NBA team) to offer $150,000 with a 20% stake. Lori Greiner offered $100,000 for 15%, while Barbara Corcoran offered what Gronkowski initially asked for: $100,000 for 10% ownership.

Firm on his valuation, Gronkowski asked Rodriguez and Cuban to come down to 15%. They agreed, and the deal was struck, bringing together the NFL, MLB, and NBA in one big partnership. 

Ice Shaker's success after 'Shark Tank'

In a TikTok video, Chris Gronkowski explained that, the week his "Shark Tank" episode went live, the Ice Shaker website received over 65,000 visits, resulting in sales totaling $175,000 (compared to the previous week's sales that came in at $6,500). Clearly, the "Shark Tank" bump in exposure had taken effect.

However, Gronkowski quickly realized that he didn't really know what he was doing. Up until "Shark Tank," he had been using his upstairs bedroom to store inventory and had only been shipping a few bottles at a time. Once the show aired and sales skyrocketed almost overnight, Gronkowski understood he needed to get a warehouse, hire staff, and make a better business plan. In hindsight, he admitted in another TikTok that it took him about three to four years to really get a handle on things.

Gronkowski also revealed that, while at first, he was in constant contact with Mark Cuban, the investor's team of experts eventually took over communication, which is how Cuban typically interacts with all of his "Shark Tank" companies. The team's advice and guidance was priceless, steering Ice Shaker past its initial growing pains. When asked if going on "Shark Tank" had been worth it, Gronkowski disclosed that, within three months of appearing on the show, the company had brought in over $3 million in sales in the first year. With Cuban's influence, Ice Shaker was even featured on "Good Morning America" and could be found for sale in all GNC stores and on QVC.

Is Ice Shaker still in business?

Ice Shaker is still thriving more than six years after appearing on "Shark Tank." In fact, the company has done so well that one of the Gronk brothers, Super Bowl champ Rob Gronkowski, actually bought out A-Rod's initial stake. And now, the product competes with the other big name players in the sports bottle field, like Yeti and Stanley.

Since "Shark Tank," the company has also added many more products to its lineup and offers custom engraving and co-branding. The original 26-ounce bottle is now available in a variety of colors and designs, and there are also bigger 36-ounce shakers, a skinny 20-ounce style, as well as larger gallon and half-gallon jugs. The company also collaborated with Bumpboxx to offer a bottle that has a detachable Bluetooth speaker for music on-the-go.

In a 2021 interview with the "Outside The Tank" podcast, Chris Gronkowski addressed the sharks' insistence that he should have used the Gronkowski or Gronk name to help promote his product, and explained why he thought they were wrong. As he shared, he didn't want the name to limit its potential to only fans of the Gronks, or even just fans of football. He believed that people who were perhaps fans of other teams not associated with the brothers wouldn't buy the product on principle alone, and didn't want sales to rely on, for example, "only when Rob posted about it." To take advantage of the idea, however, he did end up creating a dedicated Gronk line.

What's next for Ice Shaker?

In the same interview with the "Outside the Tank" podcast, Chris Gronkowski shared that his focus today remains on developing new products, increasing stores where Ice Shaker is sold, and growing his staff, believing that there is more room to get the product out to a wider audience. If his massive social media following is any indication, with nearly 900K followers across all platforms, then his target audience is definitely being reached.

Today, Ice Shaker has several community initiatives in place as well. The company gives back by donating 1% of every purchase to nonprofits it has sponsored, including organizations that assist disabled veterans, families of fallen veterans, military first responders, clean water access, and others. There are also a few affiliate referral programs providing commission sharing. These include a Refer-A-Friend program, the Steel Squad Elite for social media influencers, and the Steel Society geared towards personal trainers, athletes, and sports teams.

In the early days of the business, Gronkowski has said he struggled with the accounting end of licensing deals, but those issues appear to have appeased, with a number of licensed products now on the market. In 2022, Ice Shaker became the official bottle of USA Weightlifting. The product is also licensed by the NCAA, MLB, and the U.S. ARMY. The brand is currently conducting a survey to help choose an NFL design, signaling that a pro-football licensing deal is imminent, which would bring Ice Shaker full-circle back to its humble roots.