Whatever Happened To Shark Tank's Algae ENERGYbits?

You can always see the apprehension in their eyes as contestants walk onto the "Shark Tank" stage and break into their prepared pitches. Will the judges bite? Will they shoot them down? The outcome often depends on what kind of investment the business owner is asking for. That's what happened for Catharine Arnston, owner of a start-up selling a product called ENERGYbits. When she appeared on the show in Season 8, Arnston asked for a $500,000 investment for 5% equity. The judges weren't completely sold on the product, and Arnston, unwilling to compromise, walked away (via Shark Tank Success).

While the judges may have been wishy-washy in their opinions of the potential vitality of ENERGYbits, there's no doubt it's a unique product. According to the ENERGYbits website, the tablets made from two types of algae, chlorella, "a health and wellness algae" and spirulina, "an energizing and nourishing algae" that provide bodies with nutrients that help with "immune health, gut health, energy, longevity, ... and beauty."

ENERGYbits finds financial success and gives back

Today, ENERGYbits sells four tablet products, including BEAUTYbits, ENERGYbits, RECOVERYbits, and VITALITYbits, all containing different combinations of algae types, thus catering to buyers looking for different results (via ENERGYbits website). When it comes to revenue, things are not looking too shabby. When on "Shark Tank," Arnston reported that the company had made $1.5 million in six years; however, as of 2021, the company is raking in $4 million each year (via Shark Tank Blog).

Arnston has not only expanded her product selection, she's expanded the company's community outreach. ENERGYbits first came about after Arnston researched nutritional products, including algae, in an attempt to help her sister, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was advised to start an alkaline diet. In 2018, Arnston and ENERGYbits partnered with Family Reach, an organization that helps to provide financial relief for cancer patients, as a sponsor in an effort to further assist people with cancer and other chronic illnesses.

One thing is for sure: Catharine Arnston's business has not only been a success, but also what she calls "a labor of love."

"I believe if you create something out of love and wanting to make a difference, and you trust that feeling, you can't go wrong," she said (via Family Reach).

From the gym to outer space: the amazing journey of ENERGYBits

That's not to say that starting ENERGYBits was easy. Catharine Arnston spent years researching algae as a nutritional food before she started selling her product to friends at her health club. Eventually, a website was born and Arnston and her team started selling ENERGYBits at races to runners and began establishing a PR presence. Arnston's end goal? To get people eating more algae, and have ENERGYBits sold in health food stores across the country. "Algae is a whole food, it has one ingredient and it's not processed. We're aiming to remove any stigma or weirdness around it so it becomes as accepted as quinoa or chia seeds," Arnston said (via Well Insiders).

Arnston believes nutritional science is headed in the right direction and on its way toward recognizing algae as a superfood with a little bit of help from space travel. "We work with a lot of Keto and NASA scientists who use it and take it with them on different missions. And they do blood work the whole time, and they find that the spirulina, in particular, reduces inflammation to levels never seen before," she said on The Dr. Gundry Podcast.

They were impressed with her passion but not her product

Catharine Arnston's presentation on Season 8, Episode 9 of "Shark Tank" was high-energy and enthusiastic as she promoted the algae ENERGYbits, asking the Sharks if they want more energy, better health, and slower aging. She started strong, but faltered when she asked the Sharks to try the product before telling them she was looking for half a million dollars in exchange for a 5% stake in her company. She bounced back, but things took a downturn again when all the Sharks bit into the algae tablets before she told them that they recommend just swallowing them. "I wish you'd said to me, 'Don't chew them,'" grumbled Kevin O'Leary, making a sour face.

Soon the Sharks began poking holes in many of her statements. She claimed to Mark Cuban that there were thousands of studies proving the effects of algae, but then admitted that no one in the medical community really knows what it does. When Robert Herjavec questioned how the company is worth $10 million when she's only made $1.5 million over six years, she insisted they were about to blow up. When Lori Greiner informed her that the name SKINNYbit implies taking them will help with weight loss, Arnston insisted they don't make any weight loss claims. Even though the Sharks were all impressed with her passion, one by one, they dropped out. "The company is growing so fast, and we have so many opportunities coming our way so quickly," an undeterred Arnston said in her post-episode interview. "I don't need to convince anybody."