Whatever Happened To Outer Outdoor Furniture After Shark Tank Season 11?

Jiake Liu and Terry Lin brought their company, Outer, onto "Shark Tank" in 2019. The pair had come together two years prior when Liu randomly reached out to Lin on LinkedIn. Lin had been a designer for Pottery Barn, and Liu's idea for outdoor furniture that is more comfortable, more sustainable, and can handle harsh rain and sunlight caught his attention. Together, they designed a patio couch and chairs with a special cover, making it easier to care for the furniture. "We've created the perfect outdoor sofa that's as comfortable as your bed and as durable as your camping equipment, all while using eco-friendly materials," Liu told the sharks.

Outer's couch and chairs have wicker frames, and the cushions are made from sustainable foam. Thirty percent of one Outer chair is composed of recycled plastic, making the materials not only better for the environment but more resistant to weathering. Liu and Terry's products are designed to hold up outside all year, have protection against UV rays, and are waterproof. The cushions also have a built-in cover, the OuterShell, which can be easily pulled over the fabric at night or act as a convenient carrying case to move the cushions before a storm.

What happened to Outer on Shark Tank?

The co-founders of Outer went into the tank seeking $750,000 for 4% of their company. Outer had begun selling its furniture four months before appearing on the show and had already sold $800,000 worth of inventory. While several of the sharks quickly backed out because of the company's recent start and high valuation of over $18 million, Kevin O'Leary and Lori Greiner were interested. O'Leary presented the first offer, telling Liu and Lin that he would give them the $750K for 20% of their company. The founders hesitated to respond to O'Leary, asking Greiner if she had anything to say. She offered Outer $750K as a loan that would be repaid up to a million dollars through $20 royalties on each product in exchange for 10% equity.

O'Leary offered to match that deal, lowering the equity to 5%, but Greiner wasn't having it. "If you want him to match my deal and you would pick him, then I'm going out," she told the Outer team. "Seriously, you're going to lose me, and that you will regret forever." In the end, the founders settled on a deal with Greiner, a $750K loan with 3% interest and $30 royalties on each unit until $1 million was repaid, as well as 5% of the company.

Outer after Shark Tank

While Outer saw increased sales after the show, its real success started the following year. As the pandemic unfolded, the company's sales skyrocketed over 1000% of what they were before Covid-19. With customers stuck at home, durable outdoor furniture became a hot commodity. The popularity of Outer's furniture continued to rise even after quarantine restrictions were relaxed.

Though Lin and Liu established a deal with Greiner, the team continued searching for additional funding to aid their growing business. In 2021, Outer acquired $10.5 million in Series A funding, followed by an additional $50 million in Series B funding. "We're a challenger brand in a fractured category where there is no dominant player that people have heard of. We have the opportunity to be the household brand that everyone knows. Our goal is to become the global name in outdoor living," Lin said in an interview with Forbes.

Is Outer still in business?

Liu and Lin's company continues to create unique outdoor furniture to this day. With their increased funding, the pair has developed more than just chairs and sofas. Outer has also begun introducing new technology into their products, such as their Bug Shield Blanket, which implements chrysanthemum as an insect repellant. The company now makes ottomans, rugs, dining tables and chairs, umbrellas, fire pits, coffee tables, lounge chairs, and a variety of other products for your backyard.

Rather than showcasing its furniture in retail stores, Outer created a unique viewing model that allows prospective customers to see the products in action. The company pays previous customers to become hosts, allowing people to make appointments to view the furniture in their backyards. "People need to see outdoor furniture in actual spaces, whether it's in a small or a big space," Lin said (via Forbes). "They need to see it in places where they live, whether it's the desert like in Palm Springs or rainy places like Seattle." Outer now has more than 1,000 of their neighborhood showrooms across the country and pays hosts up to $50 per viewing.

What's next for Outer?

This year, Outer celebrated its five-year anniversary by hosting a giveaway of some of its newest products on Facebook. As the company continues to grow exponentially, Lin and Liu think Outer could move beyond furniture and focus on other aspects of the outdoors. "As we see people spending more time outside, that leads to a broader strategy for us. It opens an entire world of things we can do in the backyard. Right now, we are in furniture, but there are so many other areas we can go. Furniture doesn't define us anymore," Lin told Forbes.

Both Liu and Lin are still active in the company as CEO and CDO, respectively. On the company's website, they discuss the mission behind Outer. "We founded Outer to bring life outside, creating the most durable, comfortable, and sustainable furniture so we can feel inspired to disconnect from our screens and instead connect to nature and the people around us...Furniture is only the beginning of our journey," their website reads. Though it is unclear what became of their partnership with Greiner, the Outer founders have successfully grown their business in the years since their appearance on "Shark Tank."