Season 4 Episode 17 brought the hunt to the Shark Tank in 2013. Outdoorsmen Steve Maloney and Stephen Kirkpatrick from Madison, Mississippi had a tantalizing pitch but was it enough to get the Sharks to bite?
What is Muddy Water Camo?
Steve Maloney, an avid waterfowl hunter, and Stephen Kirkpatrick, a professional wildlife photographer, both faced the same problem. They needed to get close to wildlife but the camouflage clothing they wore was so obvious they were spotted a mile away.
Options available on the market were either the digitally designed blobs in earthy colors or woodsy patterns used for deer hunting. There was nothing for the marshland environment where they needed to stay under the radar.
This shared dilemma brought them together to create Muddy Water Camo, a line of camouflage hunting gear patterned with real terrain photography. It incorporates high-resolution images of marshlands and swamps with water and reflections to create a multi-dimensional print. This level of realism allows wearers to completely disappear into their surroundings.
Kirkpatrick took over 1,000 photographs to perfect the Muddy Water Camo patterns, and with Maloney, developed a proprietary process to copy a variety of terrain. The duo headed to the Shark Tank looking for $150,000 for 5% equity.
Is Muddy Water Camo still Active?
They have been re-branded as Muddy Water Outdoors and their hunting gear is currently available on their website.
How Did Their Pitch Go?
It started with some light-hearted fun. Steve came in quacking on a duck call getting laughs from the Sharks. He told them how he spent the last 30 years looking for camo that effectively camouflaged him, and that is what brought him to Stephen.
Together they set out to create a pattern that could make them invisible and 5 years later, the Muddy Water Camo company was born, boasting print that is “100% in focus therefore 100% realistic”. The Sharks were shown a photo of them in the marsh but it was impossible to spot them. There wasn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind that the camo worked.
But $150,000 for only 5% equity meant that The Muddy Water Camo was valued at a whopping $3 million. The Sharks could not wrap their heads around this, especially considering their gear was not available in any of the big stores and only had $150,000 in sales for that year.
Daymond was out straight away; the numbers didn’t add up. Lori liked the idea but said they had valued their company too high. Mark had the same sentiment and he was out too.
Kevin tried to negotiate with them as he felt the equity was too low. He was willing to put up $150,000 but for 20% equity. He said his could help them change the hunting game and revolutionize the market by licensing their gear to the top 3 retailers.
Steven and Stephen were not willing to lower the value of Muddy Water Camo. They had raised over $600,000 when all they had was a pattern printed on a cloth. They knew their company was worth 3 million dollars and they walked out of the tank without a deal.
What Happened After Shark Tank?
Muddy Water Camo’s appearance on Shark Tank helped raise its popularity and the company joined forces with other camouflage makers to create an extensive hunting gear line. The new company was called Clear Image Camo.
However, these new partnerships muddied the waters. A lawsuit was filed by Stephen Kirkpatrick who claimed he was cheated out of his patent. It appears as though issues have been settled after the initial filing.
As of 2019, Clear Image Camo is no longer operational and the gear is now branded as Muddy Water Outdoors. It is now in the hands of former baseball player Will Clark aka Will the Thrill. He started as an investor and eventually bought the majority share in 2020.
Beyond just camo, their website now offers a variety of hunting gear in 3 patterns:
- Muddy Water Classic: a pattern that uses grass, corn stalks, cattails, and water to mimic the waterfowl’s home
- Timber Tantrum: a dark surrounding pattern that incorporates flooded timber and buck brush
- Nfoakus: developed for deer hunters, this pattern has actual oak bark and leaves and is used for aerial concealment pattern
They also offer a variety of fishing gear including patterned shirts, headwear and masks.
Our Review of Muddy Water Camo
To stand out in this multi-billion dollar hunting market, you really have to blend in. And that is exactly what Muddy Water Camo does.
It’s 100% real images seem jarring at first glance but they are not meant to be fashionable. When worn in the matching terrain they seamlessly blend into the environment. Paired with the matching headgear and mask, you can truly disappear.
- Woven stretch polyester fabric that does not tear easily
- Comes in a wide range of sizes from XS to 3XL
- Machine washable
- Partially waterproof and moisture permeable that is meant to keep you warm and dry on windy days and light rainy and misty conditions
- Includes multiple zippered pockets for hands, gear, and other necessary items
- Due to the style of the pattern,it will only work in the marshland or swamp. It will not camouflage in a tropical water environment.
- To be effective you have to buy the entire set of headgear, mask, shirt and pants,which can get quite expensive.
- Not completely waterproof which can be a problem if you find yourself even partially submerged
Are There Any Alternatives?
There are now a variety of brands that are offering a similar style of realistic patterns and imagery. These include:
- Mossy Oaks
- Under Armour
Our Final Thoughts
Muddy Water Camo really did revolutionize the hunting game. Steve and Stephen really did understand the value of their company and were smart not to lower the value.
However, they could have benefited from the Sharks business savvy to keep control of their company.