The Blowzee: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

The idea for the Blowzee came to two fathers, Mark Apelt and Mark Lareau, after they attended a child's birthday party. When it came time to cut the cake, a rather unpleasant scene unfolded as the sun illuminated little droplets of spit flying all over as the kid blew out the birthday candles. The dads joked about how gross it is to eat cake slathered in spittle and the need for a spit-free solution. Soon after, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the idea transformed from a humorous joke to a more serious invention.

Apelt enlisted the help of a retired electrical engineer to design a prototype and used the help of his 12-year-old son to test initial designs on dozens of cakes. Combined with his own background in environmental science, Apelt came up with the Blowzee: A fan-like tube with a battery-powered propeller at the end that expels clean, spit-free air when blown into, allowing kids (and adults) to snuff out their birthday candles hygienically.

With some sales already lined up, Apelt and Lareau walked into Season 13, Episode 13 of "Shark Tank" in 2022, seeking a $100,000 investment in exchange for a 20% stake in the company.

What happened to the Blowzee on 'Shark Tank'?

When they appeared on "Shark Tank," Mark Apelt and Mark Lareau gave a quick demonstration to show just how repulsive blowing out cake candles can be. Even though blowing on your food does help cool it down, vigorously puffing out bursts of air mixed with saliva is not ideal on a cake that's going to be sliced and shared. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Food Research even indicated that blowing candles out on a cake increases the amount of bacteria by 1,400%.

The Blowzee demonstration earned a horrified "ewwww" response from more than one Shark, and it was clear that the product had successfully piqued everyone's interest. Daymond John even expressed wishing that the Blowzee was around when he was a kid. The Sharks were also impressed by Apelt and Lareau's execution and their deftness at coming up with a design with relatively little investment.

However, the entrepreneurs didn't have the numbers to turn that enthusiasm into an offer. At the time of the appearance, the Blowzee was a five-month-old company with only $12,000 in sales. The Sharks couldn't see why anybody would buy one of the candle-snuffing tubes more than once and also believed the Blowzee to be more of a lone product than a fully-fledged company. As such, Apelt and Lareau walked off without any offers on the table. Though, it certainly wasn't the first birthday cake gadget to leave the Tank without an offer; Season 12's Surprise Cake faced a similar fate.

The fate of the Blowzee after 'Shark Tank'

The Blowzee may not have secured an investment on "Shark Tank," but it certainly benefited from the publicity that the show brought. The entrepreneurs told The Roanoke Times that they completely sold out of stock within two-and-a-half hours of the episode's broadcast — even before the episode had finished airing on the West Coast.

Though the entrepreneurs haven't divulged just how many Blowzees they sold or how much revenue they made after their appearance on "Shark Tank," they did admit to finding the response "crazy."  Co-founder Mark Lareau told the website that it was "essentially the equivalent of a multi-million dollar ad campaign." The company's email inbox was flooded by "Shark Tank" viewers who loved the Blowzee, as well as from potential investors and stores keen on stocking the spit-free tubes.

The show opened a whole array of new options for the entrepreneurs to explore, proving that a successful investment is not all that "Shark Tank" offers to rising businesses. The Blowzee was featured on websites like Real Simple, New York Post, and Best Products. But for Mark Apelt, the true icing on the cake was a shoutout from Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show." Apelt told UVA Today that it was "a check on my list of life goals," adding, "if I never sell another Blowzee, I'm still happy with the success we've had." 

Is the Blowzee still in business?

Despite the initial success after "Shark Tank," the Blowzee appears to no longer be in operation. The company's website has been taken down and its products are listed as unavailable on Amazon. In fact, if the dates of the last posts published on its now dormant Instagram and Facebook pages are any indication, the company went out of business by March 2022, mere weeks after its episode aired on January 28, 2022.

The entrepreneurs did admit to having stocking issues after they sold out of product in the days following their "Shark Tank" episode. Though the duo had placed an order to re-stock inventory, they mentioned it was going to take 90 days for more Blowzees to arrive. However, it seems like more products never made it, though it's unclear whether it was manufacturing troubles that left the co-founders without stock and forced them to close shop, or whether it was a conscious decision to do so after taking the Sharks' feedback to heart. 

What is certain is that, as of now, the Blowzee is no longer in business, and it's back to the primeval days of blowing out birthday candles with our mouths — flying spittle and all. 

What's next for the Blowzee?

Before appearing on "Shark Tank," the Blowzee's Mark Apelt and Mark Lareau were in talks with several retailers including Target, Walmart, and Wegmans to stock their spit-free tubes. However, this doesn't seem to have panned out. Additionally, the entrepreneurs told the Sharks that there were several variations of Blowzees in the works — designed in different colors and featuring movie characters that would appeal to children. This too never seemed to work out. Although, it could be possible that it's just a brief hiatus for the Blowzee while the entrepreneurs work on these modifications.

As well, the Sharks had told the duo that, until they came up with more inventions, the Blowzee was just a single product rather than impetus for a full company. Considering Apelt and Lareau's ingenuity, it could very well be that they are working on new inventions — perhaps finding more solutions to additional hygienic birthday problems and cake-related troubles (maybe something that even helps people cut birthday cakes the right way)? 

However, if Lareau's current position as the Chief Procurement Officer for Liberty Mutual Insurance on Linked In is any indication, the duo may have bid farewell to the Blowzee for good. While there is no news on what Apelt is up to now, he might have followed in the footsteps of his partner and gone back to his old career in environmental science and teaching.