‘Shark Tank’ Success Story: GrooveBook Snapped Up by Shutterfly for $14.5M

Brian, Julie Whiteman didn’t think their “Shark Tank” idea would make history.

ByABC News
November 17, 2014, 8:45 AM

— -- When Brian and Julie Whiteman appeared on “Shark Tank” to pitch their app, GrooveBook, to the show’s investors, the never imagined their pitch would make history on the show.

Shutterfly, an online image storage, sharing and publishing service, announced today it was acquiring GrooveBook for $14.5 million. The app is the first idea pitched to "Shark Tank" that has been acquired by a publicly traded company.

“I was pretty impressed with their presentation and also their business idea,” Shutterfly’s CEO, Jeffrey Housenbold, told ABC News in an interview last week.

GrooveBook, which lets subscribers upload 100 photos a month for $2.99 and get a bound book of those photos in the mail, received a positive reception on the show, with investors Kevin O’Leary and Mark Cuban offering $150,000 in financing in exchange for 80 percent of licensing rights.

The other investors also offered them deals, but the Whitemans -- who live in Los Angeles and have two children -- chose the offer from O’Leary and Cuban.

GrooveBook was founded in 2012.

Julie Whiteman said she didn’t anticipate this kind of success.

“Since airing on ‘Shark Tank,’ we could have never imagined how it would have doubled, tripled and multiplied,” she said. “It's been incredible.”

The episode aired in January, and in the months since, GrooveBook's growth has been staggering. More than a million people have downloaded the app, more than 200 million photos were uploaded and subscriptions were up 1,400 percent.

Her husband recalled their appearance on the show, saying: “It's extremely intense when you're in the shark tank you have five extremely sharp people trying to get to the bottom line of why they want to give you money."

O’Leary explained why the couple’s idea resonated so much with him.

“I’m a photographer and I'm passionate about it," he said, "and I loved the idea of what they were doing."