Here's What Went Down With Combat Flip Flops After Shark Tank

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As an army veteran, Matthew Griffin knows firsthand about the devastation war can cause. But he was determined to make something good come out of it. "On a trip to Kabul, I was invited to visit an Afghan combat boot and uniform factory. In this factory, I witnessed hundreds of people working — this was the first positive outcome I saw from the war effort. When I found out the factory was going to shut down after the war, my elation turned to fury. Then it happened," he recalled to Failory. It was then that he noticed a combat boot merged with a flip-flop sitting on a table. "The factory manager agreed to let me run with it and I immediately returned to my hotel room to register Combat Flip Flops domain," he shared. And that's how, in 2011, Combat Flip Flops was born.

Alongside his co-founders, fellow army man Donald Lee and Griffin's brother-in-law Andy Sewrey, then began to create more flip flops, clothing, and accessories, all with the intention that selling them would help him to give back. "We work with local entrepreneurs to make fashion and lifestyle products. Each product sold funds a day of education for an Afghan girl," he explained of their charity-inspired business model. But as Griffin, Lee, and Sewrey didn't have any discernible business knowledge and the company started to take off, they knew it was time to get some outside help. That's when they turned to the multi-millionaires on "Shark Tank."

Combat Flip Flops landed investments from three Sharks

Matthew Griffin and Donald Lee took their idea to the "Shark Tank" entrepreneurs during Season 7 of the ABC show in 2016, pitching to Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Kevin O'Leary, Lori Greiner, and Robert Herjavec. The two explained their desire to give more people without opportunities work, while looking for $150,000 in exchange for 10% of the company. The two shared Combat Flip Flops had made $134,000 the past year and were already making more than that for that year, noting they were predicting a 5% profit.

John wasn't sure if he could see the business getting big enough for him to invest though, while Herjavec told the duo he thought they had too many products. O'Leary agreed and suggested the duo focus on their footwear before declaring himself out (to which Lee declared him "dead"), while Herjavec also made it clear he wouldn't be investing. But while Grenier agreed the two needed to focus on a niche, she was willing to invest as long as another Shark would team up with her. Cuban and John then agreed to strike up a deal together, offering $200,000 for a 25% share of the company. That prompted Grenier to throw in the towel. But that all changed when Griffin shared his desire to have Grenier onboard, and asked if she, Cuban, and John would be willing to put up $100,000 each for 10% of the company. With that, they had a deal.

Combat Flip Flops' success after Shark Tank helped 1,000 people

After appearing on Shark Tank, Matthew Griffin explained how he felt being prepared really helped them to land a prestigious three-way investment from the Sharks. "We felt at ease going into the Tank. The Sharks are people just like us. They have families, employees, and know the influence businesses have on communities. We needed to make the connection, communicate the mission, and make them feel comfortable with the seriousness of those driving the company. Nervousness would have deterred from our goal," he told Heavy.

Following Combat Flip Flop's appearance on the ABC show, the company saw a lot of success. In a blog post for Starter Story, Griffin explained just how much of an impact the show had on the business's sales. "The team slayed it on airing, grew the company nearly 450% that year, put over 200 Afghan girls in school, and employed a few hundred people," he shared. In the years that followed, Griffin told Military Families Magazine that Combat Flip Flops grew to have five employees in the U.S. and, by June 2021, had sold enough products to provide an education for around 1,000 girls in Afghanistan.

Combat Flip Flops is still in business and still putting good out into the world

So, is Combat Flip Flops still in business? That would be a big fat yes. The company sells a wide range of products directly on its website, including several of its flagship flip-flops, as well as men's and women's apparel and accessories. The company has also expanded into the e-commerce world, as its products are also available via Amazon. They also have an impressive following across social media — On Instagram, Combat Flip Flops has almost 53,000 followers, as well as amassing 81,000 followers on Facebook.

But while the company has expanded, it clearly hasn't lost sight of its niche and its desire to help others. One of the newer products available via the brand's website is the Peacemaker Dove Ornament. For each one sold, three square meters of land mines can be cleared in Laos.

Combat Flip Flops' focus will always be on helping others

Combat Flip Flops clearly has big plans to keep on expanding. Matthew Griffin told Failory in 2019 that PR is a big focus for him to keep the business moving forward. "Public relations and media have been good for us. Find media or influencers with bigger followings than you, reach out, and see if they have interest in your product. If they talk, write, or broadcast your product — the people will come," he said.

But it sounds like profit isn't the main goal for Combat Flip Flops, as the business is still all about doing good across the world. "Our goal is to ensure the sacrifice made by our service members, their families, and taxpayers makes a long-term, positive impact on Afghan lives," Matthew Griffin admitted to Heavy. "As a company, we don't think that flip-flops are going to change the course of Afghanistan. We may be able to provide an example to other businesses, help change trade policy toward Afghanistan, and create a repeatable model that can be followed." And it looks like the business is certainly doing that.