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Naples entrepreneurs David and Joe Ahmad went shark hunting but returned from their trip empty handed. 

The owners of Naples-based Coldest, maker of water bottles and other items that stay cold for more than 36 hours, walked away from an offer by investor Kevin O’Leary on the Feb. 23 episode of “Shark Tank.” 

“We went in there with every intention of trying to get a deal,” Joe Ahmad said. “I think our number one shark was Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary), then maybe Mark Cuban.” 

The Ahmad brothers, 36-year-old twins, taped the episode in Los Angeles in June.  

“It was a crazy journey,” said Joe, who is the younger brother by 6 minutes. 

David started Coldest in 2015 in the one-car garage of his home in Naples Park. Joe joined the business in 2018. He handles the marketing and David does the design, engineering and financials. 

The twins’ “Shark Tank” journey began in the wee hours of December 2022 when Joe sent in an application. 

David was skeptical. He didn’t want his brother to waste his time filling out applications.  

“I didn’t think we would get on it,” David said. 

The odds of getting on the show are like buying a lottery ticket, as about 40,000 businesses apply each year. 

The twins heard back three months later. The show wanted a five-minute business pitch. 

Then there were interviews, auditions, videos and paperwork. The twins were notified in May that they were going to be on the show; the only question was when. They were given a couple of weeks’ notice before flying to Los Angeles. 

“It was really cool,” Joe said. “It was how you would imagine Hollywood to be.” 

Just because they made a pitch to the sharks didn’t guarantee they would end up on an episode. “Shark Tank” tapes about 200 pitches a year, but maybe 80 make the final cut, Joe said. 

Joe and David’s first contact with the sharks was when the double doors opened, and they walked down the hallway to the shark tank. 

Naples entrepreneurs David and Joe Ahmad, owners of Coldest, sought offers from Shark Tank investors on a Feb. 23 episode.The 30-second pitch to the sharks is the only thing scripted, Joe said, and it has to be approved by the producers. Producers also approve the business’ set and what the entrepreneurs wear. 

The Ahmads had to wear goggles during their pitch for safety reasons, Joe said, because they were using air tanks. They tried four kinds of goggles before they found a pair that wouldn’t reflect on the cameras. 

Joe thinks the sharks questioned them for about 45 minutes, but the segment was edited down to 10 minutes for the show. 

“It’s heavily edited, it’s heavily orchestrated, but it’s a real show and there’s real entrepreneurs there,” David said. 

They didn’t get to see the final edit until Friday night. 

“The whole experience was such a blur,” Joe said. 

The brothers went into the tank seeking $600,000 for 2% of their business.  

During the segment, Cuban, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec and Daymond John quickly dropped out. John called their pitch terrible. 

He and Greiner criticized the business because the brothers had too much inventory and too many kinds of products. The company lost $400,000 in 2022 even though they had $16.1 million in sales. 

Coldest’s sales caught O’Leary’s attention.  

“It’s impressive what you’ve done in growing revenue,” O’Leary said. “There’s more fine-tuning you can do to be more profitable.” 

O’Leary’s final offer was $600,000 for 5% equity and $2.25 in royalties on each item sold until he made $3 million.  

“I was doing the math really quick in my head, and I’m like, this is not even a deal worth considering,” David said. 

The Ahmads don’t regret walking away from the deal.  

“I think it was a mix of emotions,” David said. 

The segment wasn’t without its pluses. Coldest received what turned into 10 minutes of free advertising. On average, 3.6 million viewers tuned in on Friday nights last year. 

More than 8,000 people peeked in on Coldest’s website during the show, Joe said. The brothers expect some of the peekers will become buyers.  

The twins have taken some of Greiner and John’s advice.  

“The feedback was super on point,” David said. 

They’ve removed some categories, increased the amount a customer must purchase before they receive free shipping and are looking at other ways to cut costs.  

They aren’t done looking for investors, the brothers said. It just won’t be a shark. 

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