SLO 13-year-old earns $25,000 on Shark Tank

December 16, 2014

e0JssNDUA 13-year-old San Luis Obispo entrepreneur pitched her company on an episode of ABC’s Shark Tank show, which aired Friday night, and came away with a $25,000 investment and the praise of a demanding investor. [Inc.]

Andrea Cao started a personal massage company, Q-Flex, which makes curved, plastic tools that customers use on themselves to relieve back pain. She created the product to relieve herself of the chore of massaging her mother, Hong, who would come home in pain from long days on the job as a nurse.

Cao now runs the company out of her home with her mother. She also goes door-to-door selling the devices, which had totaled 800 sales prior to the airing of the television show.

On Shark Tank, businessman and televison personality Marx Cuban agreed with co-star Barbara Corcoran to invest the $25,000 in QFlex.

“I love that,” Cuban said after hearing Cao say she sold the products door-to-door. “A capitalist is born.”

Cuban also called the San Luis Obispo teen a great role model. He, along with Corcoran, will receive a 25 percent stake in the company.

In order to complete the deal, Cao had to agree to make time during school for sales calls. She agreed to do so.



  1. willieslo says:

    The reality is this:
    There is no way a 13 year old, even born genius, can do it alone without adult or family who know how and contacts.
    If an adult did this, the business would probably go nowhere.
    Put her (13 year old entrepreneur) , door to door or on nation wide TV among millions of viewers and she will get thousands of orders.
    What is being sold is not the product but the idea of a child and public encouragement for the teen to continue.
    The significant of this story is that parents whenever possible to encourage and promote you children.
    The parent/ family are making a killing off this and I am sure will use the proceeds in a college education fund for her.
    All this is first clever of the parent/family, next entertaining, third (most important) try to promote your own children as they have.

    (-7) 13 Total Votes - 3 up - 10 down
    • achillesheal says:

      She’s a star. No doubt. Shark Barbara’s condition for a deal was that Andrea would be available to present in all sales meetings.

      Shark tank has a track record of ,making millionaires. This kid and her mom could be next.

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  2. Stunned says:

    Henry Ford made a few bucks off of interchangeable parts and it wasn’t HIS idea. Back off the girl, she’s on to something you nor I thought up!

    (13) 13 Total Votes - 13 up - 0 down
  3. abigchocoholic says:


    Self massagers have been around forever. They don’t work. You can’t massage a muscle in use and you can’t use the tool without using the muscle.

    (-4) 12 Total Votes - 4 up - 8 down
  4. catdude says:

    Interesting; I have a “Back Knobber” which is the same thing and predates this “creation” considerably…Don’t they research this stuff? She did not have an original idea, but they gave he $25 grand? Check it out…

    (1) 7 Total Votes - 4 up - 3 down
    • achillesheal says:

      They addressed that specifically on the show. Hers supposedly has more “flex”. Nothing wrong with building a better mousetrap if it is in fact better and if people will buy it.

      (11) 11 Total Votes - 11 up - 0 down
      • catdude says:

        You are correct about a better mousetrap, but this seems like just a detail difference. Seems like a large reward for a not-original idea. As a designer and manufacturer myself, I can say it is a hell of a lot easier to improve (modify) an existing design than to come up with an original concept. I deal with this constantly as I learned early on at trade shows that that same old stuff every year won’t cut it (“Oh, I saw that last year.”) So, I design a new product at least once a year, and it is difficult to come up with a fresh design in a field that has been around for over a many years. Heck, I wish the young lady the best of luck, but it makes me wonder what the competition was; surely somebody had something original!

        (-2) 8 Total Votes - 3 up - 5 down
        • achillesheal says:


          It’s not a reward. The sharks provided her with capital in exchange for a piece of her business ($25k for 20% of the company). The sharks then use their connections and manufacturing contacts etc.. to help her grow the business.

          I went to her website and they are sold out for the holidays, so her inventory is obviously gone after her appearance on the show, which is a huge marketing vehicle in itself.

          Check out sharktank if you haven’t seen it. Better yet, bring one of your designs to the sharks. Even those that don’t get a deal see their products blow-up!

          (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
          • catdude says:

            Thank you for the clarification; I don’t watch TV so I’m not familiar with the format; I thought it was a giveaway… Actually sounds pretty cool..

            I like my Back Knobber just fine, tho; I like to be able to really grind with it… Using it is kinda hurt-me-some-more; feels great when I stop!

            (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
          • r0y says:

            My kid knows her (they go to school together) and she told him there were about 15,000 orders after the episode on Shark Tank aired. Her cost is under $5, so that’s $20 profit x $15k – I think the sharks will cover their investment.

            (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
            • achillesheal says:

              Sounds like a very Merry Christmas in the Cao household this year. Good for them!

              (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
        • zaphod says:

          the secret of originality is successful concealment of source

          (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
    • pasoparent5 says:

      catdude: She’s not getting $ so much for a “creation;” it’s more an investment in her business model.
      True, her device isn’t super original but Mark Cuban LOVES entrepreneurs, especially young ones.
      He himself sold items door-to-door as a kid and whenever a young hustler comes on “Shark Tank” he tends to support them.
      It’s a great show & I let my kids watch it often. The “Sharks” are all great examples of ones who are living the American Dream.

      (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  5. achillesheal says:

    Congratulations Andrea! Invented a great product and snagged a deal with 2 Sharks!

    I bought one of these a few years agao at Kennedy Club Fitness – she obviously went to their door. It’s a great product!

    (13) 15 Total Votes - 14 up - 1 down

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