Saturday, March 25, 2023

Define Bottle 2023 Update – What Happened after Shark Tank

Define Bottle on Shark Tank

Carter Kostler is a young man, but he is the creator of the Define Bottle. He is from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and has come to the Shark Tank seeking $100,000 in exchange for 20% equity in his business. There is an epidemic of soda in our refrigerators, Carter starts by saying; everyone knows that those sugary drinks are bad for you, yet the average American continues to drink one or two cans a day. Instead, we should be drinking water, but plain water is just so boring and bland tasting. If only there were a simpler, and healthy way to make water more exciting, and that’s where the Define Bottle comes in.

Carter Kostler, the genius behind Define Bottle
Carter Kostler, the young genius behind Define Bottle

The Define Bottle is a simple way to take water infused with fruits on the go. To start, you must chop up your favorite fruit into thin slices, then place it in the bottom chamber where there is a re-freezable base piece that helps to keep the fruits cool. Add your stranger piece and a top chamber, then fill it with water. As Carter fills the bottle, the water goes all the way down to the bottom of the bottle, but the fruit doesn’t rise to the mouthpiece. Add a lid, pop the top, and you’re ready to go! After about 15 minutes, the water will be infused by the fruit, adding a fresh hint of flavor.
Carter then hands out a Define Bottle to each one of the Sharks, with each bottle specifically made to have each Shark’s favorite fruit. For Robert and Lori, he hands out a strawberry and blueberry-infused water bottle; for Kevin, he gives a mango-infused water bottle (Barbara jokingly asks why he didn’t use garlic); for Barbara and Mark, he also gives them the strawberry and blueberry infused drinks. All of the Sharks seem like they’re impressed with the flavoring of the water. Carter says that while he may be young, he knows he can make a difference in the world, and with the help of the Sharks, he can transform the way that the world hydrates.
This segment is part of the “Young Entrepreneurs” episode, and Robert begins by asking Carter exactly how young he is. Carter says he is only 15, which causes every single Shark to gasp; Carter looks a whole lot older than 15, and I agree. Lori asks if he created the Define Bottle himself, and he says that he originally created the product when his mom got into the fruit-infused water scheme, but whenever she left the house, she always grabbed a soda or juice. To remedy this issue, Carter did some sketches on a little legal pad and pitched the idea to his parents, and Define Bottle was created. Since May 15th of the episode being shot (no more than 5 months after May 15th), Carter says he has done more than $65,000 in sales. Lori probes for more details, and Carter says 50% of his sales have been online, and 50% of have been wholesale. They primarily sell the bottles through their own website, but are partnered with retailers like Whole Foods and David Steve’s in Canada. Robert asks how he got these deals, and Carter says he simply cold-called companies to sell them his product, then for Whole Foods, he just literally walked into the store and asked to speak to a produce manager. He showed the produce manager and said that the product would be excellent in Whole Foods, and the rest was history. The Define Bottle also entered the Whole Foods farmer’s markets and they sold $1,000 worth of bottles in just under 3 hours.

The (now available) variety of Define Bottle products
The (now available) variety of Define Bottle products

Robert asks about the Whole Foods orders, and Carter says it is a confirmed order; the first order was for 165 bottles, which all completely sold out. Whole Foods supposedly loves the water bottles, but Whole Foods has not re-ordered. Carter says it is a little too early for the reordering status. Returning to the price, Robert asks about the money; the Define Bottle sells for $30, and costs around $10 to make. However, Carter says that his company is talking to a manufacturer based out of China, who has promised that they can get the price per bottle down to $5. Mark asks about the online traffic, and Carter replies that he started with creating fruit-infused water recipes and it was actually his goal to advertise the Define Bottle on those websites. So far, his websites reach around 2,000 hits a day, and the conversion rate is only .5%; this means maybe 10 people are buying the Define Bottle. Mark asks why he thinks the conversion rate is so low, and Carter says he doesn’t honestly know. However, Lori says that she has a question which might answer some of the problems, and Lori asks if Carter is aware of his competition. However, Carter says that yes, he is aware of his bigger competition, and so far, their biggest competitor is selling in Brookstone. However, the bottle is big, bulky, and is stainless steel. The same bottle also does not allow you to see the fruit in the bottle, and the bottom of the bottle actually has little razors that require you to grind up and mash your fruit.
Lori says that while the product is nice and works well, there is just too much competition in the same space that does the exact same thing as the Define Bottle. However, these bottles are a lot less expensive, but they also work well, and Lori is the first Shark to exit the deal.
Kevin asks how much money Carter has spent developing the product, to which Carter replies that he has already invested over $300,000. All of the Sharks are shocked by this, and Carter continues on; his parents have taken out a mortgage, and all of the Sharks are visibly distressed by this. Kevin says that this is a huge bet that Carter’s family has made. Barbara says that the product is so pretty that she wants to own one, but the $300,000 investment blows her mind; she feels that Carter has spent way too much money developing the product, and she would never get her money back. Barbara is out, as well.
Kevin says that there is a tremendous amount of competition, and for that reason, he doesn’t find it a worthy investment. Kevin is out next. Robert and Mark are left, and Robert speaks first. Robert says that while it is a beautiful design and he has gotten into some great retailers, the bad news is that Carter got into a great retailer that didn’t reorder. By not reordering, they may never know why. However, Robert likes the product, but he feels a lot more research and work has to be done. Robert makes an offer of $100,000, the number Carter was looking for, but because of the extreme risk Robert perceives, he will want 40%.
Carter does a smart thing that rarely happens on Shark Tank, and asks if he can step out into the hallway and talk to his parents about the deal. He speaks to his parents and lets them know the situation, and his dad asks if Carter has told the Sharks about all the assets that they currently own. Carter says no, and his dad urges him to do that.
Back in the Shark Tank, Robert and Mark converse; Mark says that at age 15 with his businesses, he could walk anywhere and nobody could ever say no. Nobody could be mean to a kid, so there has to be a balance between what is real and sustainable by the product itself, but also what is carried by Carter himself being a kid. However, Mark does concede that it is a cool product, and Carter re-enters the Shark Tank and says that after some discussion, he believes his company is worth more than Robert’s valuation; they have a lot of assets; they have $85,000 in tooling, an existing $20,000 in inventory, sales of $65,000 since May 15th, and projected sales of $200,000 for the current year and doubling to $400,000 over the next year. Robert asks what Carter thinks his business is worth, and Carter says $500,000. Kevin asks if Carter is declining Robert’s offer, and Carter fires back with the same cash offer but for a 30% equity stake. Robert says that the assets are only worth something if the companies are successful, and it’s not like they can easily liquidate the assets to the full value if the company fails. Robert says he appreciates where Carter is coming from, but ultimately he has to refuse the counter-offer and stick with his initial offer. Robert says that the Sharks ultimately brought up some great points while Carter was in the hallway, and that he finds the investment a little too risky. Robert is out of the deal.
Only Mark remains left. Mark starts by saying he’s trying to find reasons to make an offer, but the fact of the matter is that Carter’s parents took out a mortgage to support the business which puts a lot more stress on the whole thing. Mark also says that he hasn’t been given enough depth on the competition to give him the confidence that the competition won’t simply dominate the market. Mark is the final Shark out, leaving 15-year-old Carter without an investment.

Define Bottle Now In 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update

Not landing a deal didn’t stop Carter from continuing to grow the company. Before long, they had landed distribution deals with several major retailers across the US, which caused their sales to explode.

That’s not all, singer Carry Underwood also contacted the company about doing a design. With that, they were able to get into Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods; this allowed Carter to pay his parents back for their mortgage. By 2015, they were projected to make $2 million in sales. Carter himself also served as a youth ambassador in The Alliance for a Healthier Generation for three years.

In 2015, just a year after his original appearance, Carter was featured in the first episode of Beyond the Tank, a spin-off series that followed up on the aspiring entrepreneurs that appeared in the show, where the Define Bottle was showcased as a success story—one that happened without any of the shark’s investments.

Carter joined the US Marine Corps after graduating from Paris Island in 2016; he is currently with the Amphibious Assault Vehicle Fleet

Despite that, the company was shut down in 2016 after Carter joined the US Marine Corps to search for a greater purpose in his life.  The website went dark (the domain has since been repurposed into a news site by a different party) and their social media pages haven’t been updated for several years. The last that we checked, he was serving as a reservist with the Amphibious Assault Vehicle Fleet.

Carter has been with the US Marine Corps since graduating from Parris Island in June of 2016

Interestingly enough, however, the Define Bottle can still be purchased from Amazon. As of this writing, it’s available for $18.49. With that said, reviews for the product seem to be mixed. While some customers are happy with the bottle, others felt that its volume capacity was too small for what it is—an infuser. Not only that, but several people also experienced leaking (liquid would come out from the bottom), which may hint at a quality issue.

The 16-ounce Define Bottle is still available on Amazon as of this writing

Is the product still in production? It’s hard to know for sure. You’d think that it isn’t since the company ‘shut down’ back in 2016 but it looks like they still have several bottles in stock on Amazon. Perhaps it’s their leftover inventory? That would make sense seeing as how the business has been inactive for several years, though he did introduce a Mason Infuser in 2017, according to his Twitter.

The most critical review on Amazon mentioned the bottle’s lack of capacity

One thing’s for sure, though, we probably won’t be seeing Carter on the show again anytime soon. For starters, he’s busy with the US Marine Corps. But who knows? He did mention that he wanted to move on to other projects in a 2017 interview.

Steven Kahn
King of the Bears, Shark Tank enthusiast, failed network engineer, sour cream enthusiast, Nanchaku instructor, Techman, Mega Man X fan, vaporizing know-how
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