What Happened To FinalStraw After Shark Tank?

By now, we're all well aware of the negative impact of single-use plastics, which harm the environment, pollute the oceans, and sometimes injure wildlife. The prevalence of the movement to reduce plastic waste seemed to coincide perfectly with FinalStraw co-founder Emma Cohen becoming more environmentally conscious while attending college. As she said in FinalStraw's official mission statement, she couldn't go anywhere around campus without seeing solo cups, straws, and water bottles everywhere. After a fateful trip to Thailand in which she saw plastic straws all over the beaches, she decided to take the plastic straw pollution crisis into her own hands. 

Once she earned a degree in environmental management and sustainability from Harvard University, Cohen launched FinalStraw, a company that aimed to help eliminate single-use plastic straws by offering a compact and durable alternative. In April of 2018, FinalStraw launched on Kickstarter, opening to a barrage of support and earning nearly $2 million in funding in a matter of weeks.

After successfully bringing the collapsible metal straws to market, Cohen and her business partner sought to secure additional funding from the panel of investors on the hit reality television series "Shark Tank."

What happened to FinalStraw on Shark Tank?

Emma Cohen and co-founder Miles Pepper appeared on the Season 10 premiere of "Shark Tank," which aired on October 7, 2018. During their pitch, Emma Cohen expanded upon FinalStraw's enormous Kickstarter success, which saw over $2 million raised and over $15,000 in additional sales. Together, the duo pitched the Sharks on a deal that would see their investor taking on 5% of the company's equity for $625,000. The panel of business investors mostly agreed that metal straws were the future, though some felt that there were glaring flaws in FinalStraw's business model.

Daymond John opted out, citing the straw's $20 retail price as a turnoff to most consumers. Lori Greiner was quick to follow, explaining that, while she felt metal straws were an important step toward reducing plastic waste in the environment, the market had already become flooded with a myriad of similar businesses. Mark Cuban and Kevin O'Leary each made counteroffers to Cohen and Pepper's initial offer, though the co-founders were not interested in raising their equity shares.

Ultimately, the duo concluded their pitch without securing an offer from the Sharks, choosing instead to remain independently backed by their growing base of Kickstarter patrons. Reflecting on her "Shark Tank" appearance during an interview, Cohen explained "FinalStraw is a product with a mission and we plan to keep it that way. It was important for me to have an investor that understands the mission, and not just finances." 

Did a TV appearance make FinalStraw a success?

After "Shark Tank," the company hit a series of unfortunate roadblocks. Though the TV appearance boosted sales numbers, the co-founders soon found themselves embroiled in a falling out. Miles Pepper quietly departed the company before launching a successful Kickstarter for his own reusable hand sanitizer dispenser in August of 2020. Authority Magazine published an interview with Pepper in early 2021, though the article conspicuously makes only passing reference to FinalStraw and doesn't mention Emma Cohen or "Shark Tank." 

With Cohen serving as the sole remaining founder of FinalStraw, the roadblocks unfortunately continued. Though the company's star had been on the rise since "Shark Tank," the additional popularity seemed to have also inspired a host of copycat creations, seemingly validating Lori Greiner's claim that the market had become overly saturated.

FinalStraw spent millions of dollars and countless company resources fighting against the growing hordes of products infringing upon their idea, to little avail.

Is FinalStraw still in business?

FinalStraw remains in business to this day, though they have since rebranded as Final. The rebrand comes amid a growing trend from the company to produce additional products beyond just straws — now it offers a line of FinalCutlery, and the BiggieStraw, which is used for thicker beverages such as milkshakes and boba, as well as a number of branded accessories including stickers, enamel pins, and bandanas. 

Unfortunately, the company suffered a significant controversy in March 2021, which seems to have impacted the future of the business. After launching their second Kickstarter campaign for the FinalWipe, which promised to reduce single-use paper towels and wet wipes, backers quickly began having issues with the product.

A number of backers expressed concerns that they had not received their FinalWipe products for months or even years. Some backers said they still hadn't received their pledge nearly two and a half years later. Worst of all, backers who did receive their FinalWipe kit have complained that the product starts to mold after just a few days, which can be extremely toxic in addition to completely antithetical to the cleaning products' intended use.

What's next for Final?

While the company has not officially announced that it's gone out of business, the FinalWipes controversy seems to have significantly rocked its ability to function. It appears that, rather than transparently communicating with their backers and supporters following the moldy wipes controversy, the team behind Final decided to go silent, offering little in the way of an apology or a social media presence in the two years since the wipes were first released.

Though the company had been aggressively marketing the release of the FinalWipes in addition to the continued sales of the FinalStraw nearly every day on social media in the lead up to the wipes' release, Final's social media accounts have been completely barren since April, 2021. Perhaps even more shocking, a glance at the Kickstarter campaign for FinalWipes shows that nobody has even logged into the Kickstarter account since May 9, 2022. In that time, Final's stock of collapsible straws has become unavailable on Amazon, though they are still supposedly available to purchase on their official website.

Is Final doomed?

Obviously, the controversy and subsequent fallout of the FinalWipes fiasco have rocked the company to its core, leaving many consumers to wonder what the future holds for Final. 

The FinalWipes are currently marked as sold out on Final's website, with no information regarding if or when the products will ever be available again, or what measures, if any, have been taken in the past two years to eliminate the apparent molding problem. Obviously, this event has been a public relations nightmare. 

Though Final technically continues to do business, it unfortunately seems as if their days are numbered. Of course, there is always a chance for the company to turn things around with a new product and a public facing acknowledgement of their missteps. Of course, due to the incredible oversaturation of metal straw companies on the market, as well as the recent increase in paper straws used in restaurants around the world, it must really suck to be in the straw business these days.