Here's What Happened To Brümachen After Shark Tank

A good cup of coffee can be hard to find, especially if you're in an area without a good coffee shop or lack an at-home brewing station. Working as a civil engineer on remote construction sites, Kweku Larbi sought to get his caffeine without having to drop a load of cash at the local café. So he invented the Brümachen, an all-in-one coffee pod brewer that even functioned as a coffee cup. In addition to being a battery-powered coffee machine that could be used just about anywhere, another selling point of the Brümachen is its pods, which are made from biodegradable materials such as tree bark and sugar. 

Larbi appeared on Season 12, Episode 11 of "Shark Tank" alongside social media influencer Ross Smith after launching a Kickstarter campaign. Smith stated that he played a marketing role in the company, as he was able to use his massive following to create impressions and drive sales. Having secured utility patents for both the Brümachen machine and its pods, the brewer sells for $120 a pop, costing approximately $38 per unit to manufacture — an impressive 68% profit margin. Through the Kickstarter campaign, they sold 600 units, which totaled $42,000 in net sales. But that was where the sales stopped. The duo came seeking a whopping $1 million for a 10% stake in the company.

What happened to Brümachen on Shark Tank?

At first, the panel seemed impressed both by the product and Larbi's background as a Ghanaian immigrant and inventor. The concept of the product delighted, with Mark Cuban saying that it was clear the function-focused design was the result of an engineer's creativity. But when they probed how the company's valuation was at 10 million dollars despite having less than $50,000 in sales, the mood quickly changed amongst the panel. Smith stated that the number was estimated based on his pull as an influencer. They then asked why they hadn't had more sales since he'd become involved with the project, to which Smith explained that he hadn't even started to promote the product before appearing on the show.

Cuban, who at first seemed eager to learn more about the product opted out first, citing the complicated design and investment pitch. Lori Greiner and Robert Herjavic bowed out for similar reasons. Daniel Lubetzky said the pitch made him "sad and upset" because the valuation was so far out of the range of possibility, that it made saying yes impossible. Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O'Leary, also responded negatively, describing Larbi and Smith's deal as "obscene." O'Leary responded, "I got a million bucks; You are not getting any of it." With rejections across the board, Smith and Larbi left the stage. Larbi ended the segment by saying, "The sharks will definitely regret that ... They might not know it now, but they will know it in the years to come." 

Brümachen after Shark Tank

Getting rejected on "Shark Tank" is not the end of the world for many businesses, and instead is an opportunity to reflect and respond to constructive feedback. The Brümachen creators still had a useful product that certainly had its merits, but it doesn't seem that was enough to keep the company going. The company's Instagram page only posted once since the episode premiered, with a photo asking followers to tune in to watch Smith and Larbi on "Shark Tank." The page only has 15 posts altogether, with one featuring Smith's grandmother, who stars in many of his personal account's sketches and videos. 

Since then, the company's website has also shut down, so there is no longer a place to order the product from. According to Larbi's own LinkedIn page, he closed the doors on Brümachen in 2021, which would have to be within a year of the episode's air date. Notably, the great social media push Smith promised to contribute to the product and brand never happened — there is no mention of the Brümachen or Smith's affiliation with the company on his Instagram, TikTok, or even LinkedIn

Why did Brümachen go out of business?

With a promising product and an engineer as the founder, who could presumably work out the product design's issues, it's hard to point out exactly why the Brümachen failed so completely and so quickly after its "Shark Tank" debut. "Shark Tank" regular Barbara Corcoran, who did not appear in Smith and Larbi's episode, later said on X, formerly known as Twitter, "I love the idea, but I do have to agree with my fellow Sharks. A 10 million dollar valuation is way too high without concrete sales." 

Many fans also stated that Smith came across poorly and was full of hubris since he believed he would contribute to the brand as a marketer and influencer, despite having zero posts about the Brümachen to base this on. We don't know the details of Larbi's agreement with Smith, but perhaps Smith only agreed to promote the product once the deal had been secured. That would explain why no videos ever appeared — the lack of investment, influence, and marketing all greatly contributed to the downfall of Brümachen. 

Lastly, the need for the Brümachen may have been done away with, thanks to the invention of a similar product, the Aeropress, a portable coffee maker, with a similar design to Brümachen. but doesn't require pods. However, it does require pre-heated water and a separate drinking vessel. Had Brümachen altered its design to be a bit more intuitive, maybe it would have been a solid competitor. 

What's next for Brümachen's founders?

Despite never having promoted the Brümachen, we couldn't help but wonder what became of Ross Smith, the influencer and supposed marketer for the company. He continues making "Jackass"-esque videos alongside his now 97-year-old grandmother and several other cast regulars. These video genres range from pranks to gross-out humor, comedy sketches, and trick shots. An ad shared on social media indicates that he's also scored a collaboration with Hot Pockets and Hot Ones, and he maintains a huge following of 23.9 followers on TikTok. 

Larbi seemed to stay on his entrepreneurial path as a founder of two companies after Brümachen's demise. According to his LinkedIn page, Larbi founded The Green Board Organization in March 2018. The company's LinkedIn page offers little information, besides the following blurb, "We're building a community that believes everyone deserves access to quality education." The website is now defunct, but Larbi still has it listed as a current role. He also founded, and works as a creative director, for a company called Baxter Wood Company, which offers clothing made from recycled and environmentally friendly materials for both men and women.