Xero Shoes Barefoot Sandals On Shark Tank

On February 1st, and then again on May 31st, Lena and I had the honor and pleasure of appearing on the ABC hit reality-business show, Shark Tank on ABC… and on October 1st we appeared on CNBC, who syndicated the show.

Over 30,000 applied to be on the show and we were on pins and needles for months, waiting to see if our pitch would make it to the airwaves.

If you didn’t see the show, check it out here. I’ve set it up so that when you start the video, it’s cued up to our segment, at the end of the show.

Since the show aired we’ve gotten some amazing responses.

Some people think we were nuts to walk away from a $400k offer.

Others think we were insane to even consider it.

In the first week after the show aired, over 2,500 people decided to try Xero Shoes and experience the fun and benefits of being barefoot, but with a layer of protection, a perfect fit, a custom style, an affordable price, and our 5,000 mile warranty.

THANK YOU to you everyone who emailed and called us, to the people who crashed our website with traffic (over 104,000 people!), to the people who put up with our shopping cart glitches (this cart was, it seems, not made for that kind of traffic), and to everyone who ordered some of our Original Barefootware.

I’ll have more to add about our experience on the show, but for now I have to get some sleep (I think I got about 12 hours, combined, this week).


  • Barefoot means nothing on the bottom of the foot – these are not barefoot sandals – THESE are barefoot sandals!

    • Jan “sandals” means “something under the foot” so you’re selling foot jewelry.

      “Barefoot Sandals” is a term that people have adopted for sandal-type footwear that allows for natural movement and as much ground feel as possible.

      (I know you know this because we’ve had this conversation repeatedly… you posted a link to your site on our previous website with the same comment 😉 )

  • XianLongShan

    Saw the Show.
    Classic Steven intro.
    Congrats to you two.

  • Great comeback, like your style, good advertizing. Keep up the good work.

  • Great job guys! I just caught the show last night on DVR. I’ve read Born to Run and was waiting for something like this!

    I know there’s a lot of editing and way more dialogue going on then what is shown, but you guys really came out unscathed compared to how hard they hit you! If anything the edits really made Mark and Damond (usually my favorite sharks) really look like jerks. My absolute favorite moment was “What makes you think that? THE INDUSTRY?”….”um, yeah…”. It might be the producers pushing these guys to act like jerks, but I don’t know why they would trash experts in areas they don’t have expertise in themselves.

    My thoughts to Damond and the sharks when they were questioning copycats (besides your answer about a patent) was that what the product represents is the opposite of the entire shoe industry! It would be impossible for a shoe company to steal the idea- they would have to make it “better” and then ruin it. Same reason no shoe companies have been able to top Vibram with “better” minimalist shoes (until now). Its like Gibson guitars selling a make-your-own guitar kit and saying it sounds better- NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

    Anyway, I’ll be ordering soon, probably a couple pairs for gifts. Thanks Steven!

    • Thanks, Sean.

      I agree with you about the big shoe companies not wanting to compete… in fact, 3 of them have told me exactly what you said.

      My line about competition is: Competition isn’t inherently a problem. I hear a rumor that there’s more than one shoe company in the world 😉

    • Blaine Moore

      Vibram ran into the same thing…they *have* to charge more for their shoes than strictly necessary just to produce the margins that will make it worth retailers picking them up.

      If your business model doesn’t involve retail stores, then it’s a lot easier to sell cheaper shoes without having to worry about getting “crushed like a cockroach”….

  • Livia

    You did a great presentation – competent, clear, engaging! Too bad the sharks couldn’t think outside the box a little more…

  • Beaugars

    Awesome. I own a pair of Vibram five fingers and have encouraged my friends to with foot, ankle, and knee pains to get some all with the great results of getting rid of their (and my) pain. I do feel some strain between my big toes when I try wearing them during the day so when I recently read “Born to Run” I thought it would be great to find something like Xero Shoes. I hate flip flops, but these look perfect. And when I saw the Sharks’ uneducated responses, I have to support you. Thanks for making a great product. This is so going on my Wall.

  • Michael Sheppard

    I just wanted to say that I just watched the show and I have got to give it a try! I teach a birth class for dads (mainly for homebirth) and my wife is apprenticing to become a birthing assistant. So, these should definitely fit into our “crunchy” lifestyle! Haha!

    Thank you!

  • the video was removed by owner. Durn.

  • Bassam

    Don’t take this the wrong way Steven but you were adorable on the show. I know you two will be very successful. All the best!

  • e

    you guys rock! dont let the sharks get you down. sharks can run anyway

  • alan

    You two were clearly well prepared and brought your game, I think the sharks were myopic. I wish you both happiness and prosperity.

  • Randy

    I was trying my best not to see this as I am not one for the corporate business, but I have to say you guys really held it strong in there. I really am proud to wear your shoes (both Xeros and Invisible Shoes) and salivate just thinking about running in them! Now I want to go for a run!

    • I just came back from a run! I highly recommend it 😉

  • Marc

    made the right decision to walk away. You have a great product and I’m sure
    spent too much time developing it to just give it away. Keep selling a great
    product and providing exceptional customer service and good things will come. Best of luck!

  • Austin

    Those dang self centered, money oriented, close-minded, industrialist, capitalist pigs!

    • 7LibertyForAll

      On the other hand, it’s their right to choose as they did. They’ll be watching Xero shoes continue to grow and perhaps rue that decision. It’s an ingenious product…..since when have the status quo understood something this different?

      Having said that, I am still looking for a good way to lace mine without having the lace between my great toe and second toe. My feet just don’t like it. There’s no accounting for what the feet want

  • ATribeCalledWes

    Cool, congrats on your escape! Maybe try kickstarter or something similar since your already in motion;). I’ve got a couple pair and enjoy them for several uses, running, walking, etc. They’re pretty awesome, are affordable and make for a good conversation. Thanks Xero Crew!

  • barefootpat.org

    I hope you find the path between holistic lifestyle and ruthless business. Maybe you are paving the way to the future of mankind. May the Force be with You, always.

  • Myhre

    Love my zero shoes all 4 pairs of them
    Greetings from sweden
    Best of luck

  • Kore

    These look super comfy and cool. Totally getting a pair. <3

  • bart

    you are the best and you changed many lives, keep the good work and things will work out.
    all my support bart…

  • Roger McAllister

    I love Boulder. I need to love these shoes too. Perhaps I’ll try a pair.

    • Stop by the office if you like (it’s a bit nutty over here at the moment 😉 )

  • TeamDoctorsClinic


  • TeamDoctorsClinic

    Nice sales presentation! You are one of the fastest 50 year olds I know. Putting yourself in support is a fake cast. Very nice. They feel great! haha Rubber and a string is worth $5,000,000. He made an offer. That is good… I would have taken the $400,000 and run barefoot out of there. 🙂

    • Thanks, James!

      If the 400k didn’t come with the 50% string attached to it, we would have 😉

    • 200 Fathoms

      Surely not for a 50% stake!

  • Caleb

    I’ve been wearing my shoes around everywhere for months now and will never look back. I just watched the shark tank episode again and wanted to tell you guys that you made the right decision to walk away. I hope your business continues to grow. Everywhere I go, people come up to me and tell me how much they love my shoes. Hopefully some of them remembered to check out your website once they got home.

  • Alex

    great presentation. I’m glad you didn’t sell out, that you told them “no”. you aren’t asking them to back a “traditional” “shoe” company, this is a completely different philosophy. it is one that needs to be researched, understood and tried.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve never seen an arch that is supported in the middle – so maybe there’s some basic engineering that needs to be understood first also.

    best of luck. you just shipped my third pair.

    also, if you don’t want the knot to protrude, melt it with a lighter and mash it against the sole. that flattens and hardens it.

    • Thanks for your support and suggestions Alex. And we have a new video that shows how you can make a “lace bead” that creates a 2mm thick (that is, almost invisible) non-knot under the foot… practically impossible to feel.

  • Wes

    I don’t yet have a pair HOWEVER, good for you for walking away!

  • George

    I’ve been meaning to order for some time and finally got around to re-visiting your site. After viewing the ‘Sharks’ and hearing them say, “I’m out!”, well that’s all I needed for me to say,”I’m in!” I’ve been wearing minimalist shoes for a year now and won’t go back. Your presentation was excellent and I’ll be circling my mailbox over the next few days waiting for them to arrive. Thanks!
    George S.

  • Johannes

    I have 2 pairs, wear them probably 70% of the year, you guys rock!

  • Adrienne

    Ordering my first pair right now, so excited!!!!

  • simon

    I just received my first pair of xero shoes, i’ve been running barefoot for a few months now and i really think the xero shoes are great addition to barefoot running! And knowing that you didn’t “sell out” and had the confidence to walk away from the sharks just strenghtens my confidence in your company! keep up the good work!

  • Sasha

    I don’t understand how this is your idea or how you expect to actually patent this when you essentially took someone’s idea (the Native American tribe you mentioned), put your own little spin on it and are monetizing it.
    The tribe itself, in accordance with all precedents of the benevolent white man will see no profits for what is in fact their idea, but you will certainly get rich and maybe someday sue the tribe for making shoes that look like yours. That is outrageous.

    • Hi Sasha,

      What we say (and said on the show) is that Xero Shoes are a modern update to a 15,000 year old idea. Dozens of tribes all around the world have developed footwear similar to ours and we make no claim to be the originators (just as no shoe company claims to be the inventor of the shoe, but sells their variations of an ancient idea, and patents the unique aspects).

      The tribe we mentioned is the Tarahumara in Mexico, who inspired us with the tire sandals they make (obviously not for 15,000 year, but since they got their hands on used tires), and use to run hundreds of miles at a stretch.

      And, if you go to https://xeroshoes.com/barefoot-running-tips/we-support-the-tarahumara/ you’ll see that we support the Tarahumara with a percentage of our pre-tax profits. Our goal is to expand our philanthropic activity to support all indigenous tribes that still maintain a barefoot or near-barefoot lifestyle.

  • Ward


    I just ordered a kit but couldn’t wait to get them. Found out the the 3rd Planet in Lawrence sold them so went up and bought two pairs. As far as Shark Tank. I was involved in something like that with a jerk. He was trying to steal my idea and in the long run he ended up in jail for embezzlement and I lost it all. What ever you do don’t give in to people like that. They probably all voted for Romney anyway….

  • Kelly C

    These people were disgustingly rude. They are the wrong market. How many of them even look like they take care of themselves? Mark Cuban is wearing a thousand dollar suit. That lady is all botox’ed up. You guys did the right thing. Thank you for staying strong in the face of them. The reality is your shoes are awesome and all my paleo/primal friends wear them. Keep up the good work!

  • Jimmy

    Great job, unfortunately I don’t feel like the investors really understood your product considering how quickly they bailed out. It’s a lot of information to try to convey in a short time, and they only focused on the numbers. Anyways, I’m really glad you didn’t give up half of your company, 10% was a very reasonable counteroffer and it will be all the more satisfying when you do prove them wrong.

  • Joshua deCarlo


  • Joshua DeCarlo

    Let me just say I’ve traded in my Vibrams for a pair of Hot Salmon sandals!!

  • Max

    Just ordered your product. I cannot believe how they would not see the value in what you are selling. Keep at it! The world will beat a path to your door.

  • gabs

    i LOVE shark tank, so glad you did not take that deal… i wonder how well you have done from Shark Tank.. cuz that is why i am ordering!

    • Just being on the show has been a HUGE boon to our business. We’re really grateful for being part of the show and expect that the positive effects will just continue to show up.

      • Thomas

        Smart people don’t go on SharkTank to get a deal, it’s all about exposure. 🙂 Nearly 10min of national air time, and ABC paid for it all. No one could afford to buy time like that.

        The idea is to figure out how to say “no”, in a way that helps build credibility for your company.

        • We were totally open to making a deal… if it was the right deal with the right partners.

          We were also very clear, going in, where the limits of our “Yes” were. And, Kevin’s offer was nowhere near that limit 😉

  • sazpredator

    Looks like I will be getting these for Christmannukah! Very excited.

  • myles

    kia kaha,

    your product is awesome! Babylon would never understand it. shoes are coffins for your feet!

  • Tom W. Chilek

    Hi Steven, I saw these shoes on Amazon.com and bought 2 pair. Can’t wait to get them. I’ll keep you posted. For me, I like to run and workout in the lastest Nike atheletic shoes. But when I am away from the gym and at work, I like to wear flip flops in warm weather. These sandals look cool and comfortable and I thought, what a great alternative to flip flops. I love the heel strap. I am so looking forward in getting these. I can imagine that I’ll be wearing these shoes most of the time.Take care! 🙂

    • We like to say that Xero Shoes make flip flops afraid… VERY afraid 😉

      • Tom W. Chilek

        Hi Steven,

        Got the shoes love them. Below is my Amazon.com review :o)

        Let those toes be free!

        I love Xero Shoes. They look and feel great, more comfortable then flip flops. Perfect for my vacation later this year. Love the heel straps and cups so that my feet remain securely in the shoes. I have a partial disability and I have a problem with a flop flop coming off my right foot when driving. I am constantly having to reposition the shoe. Furthermore, I love the flexability of these shoes and they can fit neatly in a travel bag for easy travel. Bottomline, these shoes are amazing. Your feet will look and feel great. Grab a pair, you won’t be disappointed. I bought 2 pair of Xero Shoes and I may get a couple more later this year. Trust me, you will discard ball your other flip flops and sandals after you try these. Bye, Bye flip flops, There is a new revolution in style for happy feet. And that Revolution is Xero Shoes! :o)

  • Very kind of you to say, Vanessa.

    When Lena and I started Xero Shoes, we knew we wanted to emphasize customer service and community… because we SO hate it when companies don’t (and are amazed at how little they would have to do to change that).

  • Thanks for the kind words, Ewan.

    Good luck with your training and FYI, you would *not* be the first to wear Xeros with a kilt! 😉

  • Jack

    I love how you kept your smile and composure while the sharks were being mean and condescending.
    No matter what happens, you guys can be proud of what you have done 🙂

    • Very kind of you to say, Jack.

      Lena and I are pretty impossible to insult 😉

  • 200 Fathoms

    Good for you for not taking the offer. It was the right decision.

  • Nuno

    Unfortunately extreme expensive, I would like to buy on or two pairs but shiping to Portugal would not worth it

  • Me

    Cost: $3.11 Price on this website $24.99.
    Do I wait for a good sale or discount or do I buy a car mat and some cord that would work?..

    • a) People who haven’t run product-based businesses sometimes confuse the cost of goods with true cost, which includes all the myriad expenses of running a business.

      b) If you look around your room right now, you’ll find a plethora of items that “cost” way less than what you paid for them; you just don’t know the cost because those companies haven’t been on Shark Tank and been told to reveal that info 😉

      c) You ABSOLUTELY can try making huaraches with whatever materials you want. We even give you the instructions at https://xeroshoes.com/how-to-make-huaraches/

      d) The materials we sell — our FeelTrue outsoles — are WAAAY better than whatever you’ll find. That’s why we spent tens of thousands of dollars developing them. They’re the only outsole product specifically designed for barefoot-style sandals. They have a 5,000 mile warranty, color choices you won’t find anywhere else, and a composition that provides the right combination of flexibility, structure, and strength.

      Often people discover that when they try to source materials on their own, it’s more expensive than our kits.

      So, do with all that what you will… and, either way, Feel The World!

  • Travis Jones

    Great job resisting the temptation to sell out! I’m a 40 year old former high school runner who has struggled with getting back into running form because of injuries. I’ve been wearing a minimalist shoe for 6 months, but I just got my first pair of your 4mm and did my first mile in them yesterday. I love these! Hope I can help spread the word!

    • I’m not sure we were even tempted by that offer, Travis 😉

      Welcome to Xero Shoes and thanks for your support!

  • hainesjoe

    Good for you that you didn’t sell out to the Sharks… they are called Sharks for a reason. Albeit he wanted to steal your company, you did the right thing and “walked/ran” away.

  • Mark Silveira

    Just yesterday (6/22/14) I ran into your product. I ordered one pair right away! I just watched the “Sharktank” video today. Your unwavering posture alone will sell me more of your products. Good for you! I just posted your site in both of my FB pages. Mark Silveira

    • Thanks for the kind words and your support, Mark. Oh, and the order, too! 😉

  • chayra

    I don’t watch TV, but I watched your Shark Tank clip. I was duly impressed with your professionalism. You articulated your product and the extensive research you’ve done and you stood proudly as you should. I know reality TV is made to incite emotions for ratings, but the sharks were little more than condescending toads. I hope you make twice your sales and valuation projections! One day soon you’ll find yourself in the company of these individuals (at some business titan function), and I have a feeling you’ll remain the gracious people you are. Best of luck.

    • Thanks so much for the kind words and well wishes, Chayra.

      So far, things are going great over here and while I’m sure we’ll be gracious when/if we run into the Sharks again, we’ll also try to let them know that they missed the boat with us 😉

  • Rod Steele

    Good job rejecting that ridiculous deal. I’ve been running in Vibrams but the toes sometimes bother me. I just ordered the Amuri Clouds. Can’t wait to try them out!

  • Cinco

    I made some out of old, thin flip flops and I gotta tell ya – if the holes were in the right spots, I’d live in them. I don’t run, walk OR hike, because I’ve had foot and knee problems since junior high school gymnastics, 40 years ago. Or, at least I did. I don’t now. And the ones I made are basically crap – they’re made out of a $0.99 pair of cheesy flip flops, they won’t stay on and they’re too thick but they are STILL better than any shoe I’ve ever worn – so screw the sharks. I’m in.

    • Welcome to Xero world, Cinco!

      I’ve worn practically nothing else (except when I’m training as a sprinter) for 5 years. Knee pain? Can barely remember it 😉

      • Cinco

        I know what you mean. I didn’t even notice that my knee wasn’t hurting anymore, until I had to do the wicked spiral stairs at work one day. I DID notice the absence of pain in my foot, though. Then, of course, I proceeded to break it. LOL! But after so many years with all of that, I’m still working on building up strength in that ankle. It’s weak and not used to walking correctly and I keep turning it. Plus I recently figured out how to fix plantar warts I had on the bottom of that foot, so I also have to retrain my toes – but after 40+ years of painful walking…holy moly. Maybe I WILL run! I loved running when I was a kid.

  • Matt

    Walking on that offer was probably the most difficult decision the company has faced yet but well done. For 50% you shouldn’t need another dime to establish a barefoot empire. I’ve already watched you guys grow so much. Keep selling a great product with passion and maintaining the integrity of this great grass-roots company. Maybe try Kickstarter if you haven’t. If a guy can get 50k for making mashed potatoes I’m sure you can get the funding you need without the unneccessary compromise.

    • Those must be some great ‘taters! 😉

      Thanks for your support, Matt… and, actually, it was easy to walk away from that “deal”, since we knew going in that we wouldn’t take a 50% offer.

      We’ve got some very clever investors in the wings at the moment who will definitely help us a LOT, and won’t ask for any appendages. 😉

  • Chris Laymon

    haha!!! I totally LOVED this video! Thanks for posting it! And, for what it’s worth, I love Shark Tank. I think the show has opened a lot of would-be (and some seasoned!) entrepreneurs’ eyes to what can happen with some hard work and risk.
    I really loved your video because you and your company are making the sharks wrong. It’s obviously a great product, in a somewhat niche market that you’ve figured out how to exploit. Good on you guys!
    My wife is amazing in a lot of ways, but one of my favorite things about her is her ability to seek out “the truth” among our marketing-heavy society. She has researched soaps, shampoos (we haven’t used either of these in 2 years and no one would know), laundry detergents, etc. She found your shoes somehow and started learning how, again, the marketing in our country has fooled us into believing we need shoes for support. It makes us wonder how many OTHER products are considered “necessities” because we’ve been fooled into believing the hype. We’ll continue to research and find out the truth!
    Anyway, we love your product. My wife and I both just got our first pair and we can’t wait to start wearing them every day.
    Keep up the good fight, and show those Sharks that they’re not always right!

    • Thanks, Chris!

      We’re going to prove the Sharks wrong again on CNBC on October 1st (it’s a rerun) 😉

  • Ash

    I understand the Shark’s point of views, but if they were to try the product out themselves and experience the major benefits of it then they would all be running to sign up. It might just be some rubber and a piece of string but that’s everything you’ll need! You guys keep rocking on, I love your stuff!

    • Our reply to “it’s just rubber and string,” is, “No, it’s a REVOLUTION!” 😉

  • grizfan

    Just saw the “Shark Tank” episode and was very impressed with the two of you and your shoes. I don’t see the shoes that Lena had on during the show anywhere on the website — and those are the ones that I really want to try first. Can you please email me to tell me how I can buy a pair of size 8’s in those?

  • izzienutz

    Mr. FUBU, the man who knows how to make everything cheaper than you do, sold his dead fashion brand to Walmart to slap on $19 sneakers. And what are your recent big hits Mr. FUBU? I’d like to see you try to pitch that Moguls Mobile junk to the sharks.

  • Brent

    I will be having knee replacement surgery in the near future and have found that the most comfortable piece of footwear is a flip flop, with that being said a flip flop is also the most annoying piece of footwear I have. I would walk around barefoot if I could but it just isn’t practical in a city environment. I love the idea of your product and will be purchasing several pairs from you! Also the very fact that you turned down Kevin on Shark Tank would make me want to purchase a pair just based on screwing him out of the profit he could have made 🙂

    • Flip flops are horrible for MANY reasons (having to jam your toe into the thong, having to grip with your toes, foam that breaks down, etc.).

      Xero definitely lets you have that barefoot experience without having to worry about what’s on a city street (I was walking all around NYC in June, and in Hong Kong in December).

      And, yes, we’ve got some things going on that will make the Sharks, oh, a bit upset that they didn’t nibble on us 😉

  • Chris Rioux

    There’s no video showing up on this page..

  • Alexanders FamilyMaranatha

    Shark Tank made the wrong decision to ask for 50%. I believe in Xeroshoes and I think that with some enthusiastic marketing and willing minimalist runners/fans, your shoes can become a cult-phenomenon. (I would offer some design changes however, if asked.)