What Really Came Of ZuGoPet From Shark Tank?

There have been plenty of lighthearted moments on ABC's hit reality show "Shark Tank," but few pitches have caused as much hilarity in the studio as the ZuGoPet Rocketeer. On Season 10, Episode 12, business partners Juls Bindi and Carolyn Shewfelt stepped in front of the sharks with their adorable "spokes-pooches" to pitch their car safety device for small dogs. After demonstrating the dangers for unsecured animals with crash test footage, their second video had their potential investors almost rolling on the floor with laughter. The cause for so much mirth was clips of some rather anxious-looking dogs strapped into the Rocketeer safety harness with their butts suspended a few inches above the car seat, looking like they were about to get blasted into space instead of going on a road trip.

According to ZuGoPet's official website, Bindi had half a decade's worth of research experience before she launched a Kickstarter campaign for ZuGoPet. She then teamed up with Shewfelt to help develop the Rocketeer harness system with Shewfelt's dog in mind, who was dealing with serious joint issues. On "Shark Tank," Bindi and Shewfelt were clearly passionate about car safety for pets, but the unfortunate visuals undermined the seriousness of their pitch. Could they regain credibility and sell the Rocketeer to the sharks?

What happened to ZuGoPet on Shark Tank?

ZuGoPet entered the tank with a relatively modest request, asking for $100,000 in return for a 10% stake in their business. Presenting a homey and optimistic pitch, their crash test footage was alarming enough to warrant consideration, highlighting the danger of using a substandard device to secure a dog in the event of an accident. The company boasted safety-approved certification and, as an added bonus, the Rocketeer also doubled as a body harness for carrying small dogs around on foot.

The images of cute dogs trussed up in such an unnatural position were too much for the sharks to take, and it didn't help that one of the spokes-pooches was visibly trembling during the demonstration in the studio. Beyond the comedy value, question marks arose about the price tag, marketing strategy, ease of use, and lack of substantial data regarding canine fatalities in car accidents. 

Bindi started getting a little frustrated when it became clear that the pitch was losing the investors and internet security tycoon Robert Herjavec was the first to drop out, arguing that the device looked too complicated and time-consuming. The rest of the sharks quickly followed suit, stating they appreciated the idea but overall felt that the product wasn't sufficiently well-developed or marketed yet. Disappointed, the pair and their dogs walked away empty-handed (and empty-pawed) without a deal, but stated their determination to go out and make their invention work anyway.

ZuGoPet after Shark Tank

There isn't a great deal of information about ZuGoPet's fortunes before or after the business partners appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2019. According to an Instagram post, Juls Bindi incorporated ZuGo back in 2013 and the company has produced items other than dog safety devices, such as the ZuGo Rhino e-bike. According to CleanTechnica, Bindi initially developed the moped-style electronic scooter to easily get around the Burning Man festival. 

As for ZuGoPet, the Rocketeer has provoked a bit of a backlash. In 2021, YouTuber Jenna Marbles faced the wrath of her fans, some of whom accused her of abusing animals, by trying out the ZuGoPet Rocketeer on her channel. She felt compelled to state that she wasn't endorsing the product and also thought it looked unsafe for dogs. 

ZuGo filed for bankruptcy in March 2023, but there may still be life in ZuGoPet. Earlier this year, Bindi wrote on Instagram, "Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster of emotions ranging from bliss, loneliness, depression, anxiety, debt, substantial monetary losses, and decision-making that can make or break your company ... I tried farmers' markets, crowdfunding, social media, hired a PR agency, and pet expos, but what made it happen was my persistence and not giving up. And that's still the factor today."