Cincha Travel

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Cincha Travel Shark Tank Update

Cincha Travel

Mark Furr

This post contains affiliate links, and we may be compensated if you buy something after clicking on our links.

Cincha Travel’s flagship product, The Cincha Travel Belt, secures your personal travel bag to your carry-on so that you can zoom through the airport, with the weight off of your back and shoulders, and your hands free to grab that last minute coffee. But, will the jet-setting Sharks recall enough about the economy-travel experience to be willing to invest in this product designed for the rest of us? Read all about it in our Cincha Travel Shark Tank update. 

What is Cincha Travel?

Cincha Travel is a company which manufactures travel accessories which provide functional, yet stylish, solutions to real problems faced while traveling. The company is located in Oakland, California. 

Cincha Travel’s flagship product is the Travel Belt, a stylish, but very sturdy belt, which secures your personal bag to your luggage, freeing up your hands, and making the travel experience easier. 

Who created Cincha Travel?

Cincha Travel Founders

Cincha Travel was co-founded by Ashley Sharma and her fiance James Baker. Ashley attended college at San Francisco State University, where she graduated with a BS in Marketing. She began her professional career at Yes To, a consumer-inspired line of hair and skincare products, and prior to founding Cincha Travel, she also held Marketing management positions in The Honest Company, Williams-Sonoma, and Cora. 

Cincha co-founder James Baker grew up as one of six children in his family, and for a while the family was homeless, until they managed to move into Section 8 housing when he was 16 years old. James overcame his family’s poverty to attend UC Davis, where he received a BA in Political Science, and he then went on to Harvard Law School, where he earned a Law degree. James has worked as a Civil Rights Attorney for many years, and he is currently a Senior Trial Attorney for the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commision in San Francisco. 

How did Cincha Travel get started?

In an interview with Medium, Cincha Travel co-founder Ash Sharma revealed that starting the business was a marriage of her two favorite things: brand building and travel. Ash told Medium, “Traveling was in my DNA from the beginning – my dad is a long-time employee with United Airlines, and he took me on my first flight at 6 months old. Some of my earliest memories have me at an airport or on a plane.”

Ash also says that she still loves everything about traveling, the excitement of packing, boarding, and landing, and that adventuring through different cities and countries brings her much joy. She also believes that Cincha Travel has allowed her to combine her passion for traveling with her background in marketing, where she has worked mostly for startup consumer-goods companies. Ash told Medium, “Cincha allows me to flex both passions as a start-up girl with a love for travel.”

Ashley came up with the idea for Cincha Travel’s flagship product, the Travel Belt, as a result of being a passenger who often overpacked, so her personal bag was always large, heavy, and unwieldy, so it was difficult to either carry it over her shoulder because of the weight, or to balance it on top of her carry-on bag because it was just too big. She always experienced difficulty maneuvering through airports with her bags, and this led her to work on creating a fashionable, but sturdy, way to attach her personal bag on top of her carry-on so that she could roll through the airport with her hands free. 

What happened to Cincha Travel before Shark Tank?

Cincha Travel got started in 2019, and they had just started testing social media in early 2020. They were pleased with the results of their test marketing, and they believed that Cincha would experience a great deal of growth in 2020. However, things came to a screeching halt for the company when worldwide travel was essentially shut down by the Covid Pandemic. 

Ash related to Medium that 2020 was incredibly difficult for the start up, but two things gave her the strength to continue. First, she said that a major beauty brand had invited her down to Los Angeles to do on-site Travel Belt personalizations for an event, and she said the second thing that kept her focused was that she went through a terrible personal loss at the end of 2020, and Cincha proved to be a much-needed distraction from that loss. 

Prior to pitching in the Tank, Cincha Travel had just $5k in sales in its first year in business, 2019, and then in the Covid-paused travel world of 2020, they had revenues of $32k. However, in 2021, things began to look up, as they had sales of $250k, and during the filming of their pitch in 2022, they told the Sharks that they had $830k in year-to-date sales. 

What do customers think of Cinch Travel?

Cincha Travel Product

Cincha Travel offers a number of travel accessories for sale on both the company website and on Amazon. We decided to take a look at Amazon reviews for their flagship product, The Original Cincha Travel Belt for Luggage. We found 662 ratings for The Cincha Travel Belt, with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, with 90% of reviewers giving the product 4 or 5 stars, and just 4% assigning a single-star rating. The Cincha Travel Belt is also an Amazon’s Choice product in the Luggage Strap category. 

What are customers saying about The Cincha Travel Belt?

The vast majority of reviews for the Cincha Travel Belt were really positive. One verified purchaser wrote, “This little belt saves so much hassle when traveling. For years, I wound the straps of my underseat bag through the handle of my suitcase, but the bag inevitably shifted while maneuvering through airports. And the straps were a nuisance to unwind when the luggage pieces needed to be separated. Now I don’t have to look back to see whether my carry-on is secure.”

Another happy Cincha Travel Belt buyer said, “This is terrific. Been looking for something like this for a long time. Love it! Now, I can use any bag I want for traveling.”

The few negative reviews we found all claimed that the Travel Belt allowed their bags to slip off of the carry-on handles. One disappointed customer wrote, “I tested it out by strapping my backpack on my carry-on at home and then shaking the handle. With every shake of the handle the backpack’s weight would cause the Cincha to unspool; the belt does not stay tight when buckled. This is useless. The backpack would have just slid right out if I used this.”

There were few critical reviews, but the company might want to contact these folks to see if there is some design flaw which causes the belt not to function correctly when used with certain types of bags. 

When did Cincha Travel appear on Shark Tank?

Cincha Travel appeared on Shark Tank in Season 14, Episode 19, which aired on April 7th, 2023. This episode featured regular Sharks Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, and recurring Guest Shark Gwyneth Paltrow, actress and founder of lifestyle brand Goop.

Stealth Brothers & Co, a company which manufactures a specialty travel item for medical supplies, also appeared in the Tank in Season 14.

What happened to Cincha Travel on Shark Tank?

Cincha Travel co-founders Ashley Sharma and James Baker entered the Tank and asked the Sharks for a $200k investment in return for a 15% equity stake in their company.

James began by smiling at the Sharks and asking them, “Do any of you remember the perils of commercial travel with the mile-long sprints through the terminal to make your flight, a heavy bag on your shoulder and back weighing you down, or death gripping your luggage and bag handle to keep it together?”

Ash then added that she always kept her prized possessions in an oversized personal bag, as she always tended to overpack. Holding a heavy bag in both hands, she wondered out loud, “But do I have to carry this heavy bag through the airport all day?” Ash told the Sharks that James, her practical, lawyer fiance recommended a bungee cord, but she told him, “No thanks, those things do not make me feel put together, and they definitely don’t go with my airport outfit.”

James then told the Sharks that Ashley’s luggage problem had been solved with the Cincha Travel Belt, the world’s most stylish and functional add-a-bag strap that secures your personal bag to your carry-on luggage. James then demonstrated the ease of use of the Travel Belt, and invited the Sharks to look at the samples in front of them. 

Lori Greiner was obviously impressed, as she said, “Wow, it is very heavy duty and high quality. It reminds me of a seatbelt in a car; it’s that thick and durable.” Guest Shark Gwyneth Paltrow then asked the couple to talk about their backgrounds.

James spoke first, and he told a fairly detailed story of growing up in very humble circumstances, being one of six children, whose family was basically homeless until they moved into Section 8 housing when he was 16 years old. He told the Sharks that despite their circumstances, his family still would not allow him to use their situation as an excuse for bad behavior.

The Sharks were all deeply affected when they heard that only two years off of the streets, at 18, James was the first in his family to go to college, and by 21, he was enrolled in Harvard Law School. James told the Sharks that he was still working as a Civil Rights attorney. 

Ash then told the Sharks that she really struggled in school, as a child of Spanish-speaking immigrants because she was always thinking in Spanish, but she finally overcame this and went to college to study marketing. After graduating from college, she worked in marketing for a number of consumer-goods-products startups. 

Kevin O’Leary, as usual, was ready to get down to business, and he asked about the company’s sales since they had started. James told O’Leary that they started in 2019 with just $5k in sales, and he also said that 2020 had started off with $32k in sales in just a few months, but then Covid shut down the entire travel industry. In 2021, they had $250k in sales, and in 2022, the year in which the episode was filmed, they had $830k in sales year-to-date.

The Sharks also learned that all of Cincha Travel’s sales were direct-to-consumer. Mr. Wonderful then followed up to ask for a breakdown of their cost, the retail price, and the customer acquisition cost. James responded that for their flagship product, the Travel Belt, their landed cost was $4.61, the retail price was $40, and their customer acquisition cost was $27.50 on an average order of $61.50.

Gwyneth Paltrow next wanted to know their strategy in terms of sales channels, and she learned that the Cincha team was in the Tank in order to get a Shark’s help with getting into retail, particularly the airport shops. The Sharks also discovered that Ash and James were doing everything themselves, while both were still working fulltime jobs. 

After hearing their numbers and the strategy for moving forward, at least one Shark now appeared ready to declare their intentions. 

Did Cincha Travel get a deal on Shark Tank?

Cincha Travel co-founders, Ashley Sharma and James Baker, successfully negotiated a deal on Shark Tank. Barbara Corcoran agreed to invest a total of $200k, $100k of which was in cash, and a $100k credit line, in exchange for a 25% equity stake in the business.  

Guest Shark Gwyneth Paltrow was the first Shark to reveal her intentions when she told the Cincha team that she was super impressed with the presentation, but the product was not a good fit for her. Mark Cuban spoke next, telling Ash and James that, for him, their company didn’t seem to fit his strengths. 

Lori Greiner followed Mark and Barbara, saying, “You’ve blown me away and amazed me, but I have a partner in a business which makes something that is similar, so I can’t invest.” 

Barbara Corcoran was obviously affected by the Cincha couple’s personal stories, so she said “What I’ve come to appreciate about any hardship, is that it makes the best entrepreneurs.” She then told the story of being unable to learn to read until she was almost in 7th grade, and she added, “I sometimes think that my whole career has been one long attempt to prove I’m not stupid.” She then told Ash and James that she believed that they were already over the greatest hump, the start up, and it appeared that she would go out. 

However, James spoke up to say that they understood that they could go on and stumble along on their own, but having the right partner could make a difference in years of mistakes, pitfalls, and slow growth. Barbara then interrupted to say, “Alright, you sold me. I’m going to make you an offer.” She then offered $100k in cash and a $100k credit line for a 33% stake in the business, and the other Sharks groaned when they heard her equity ask. 

Mark looked at James and said, “That smile just dropped off,” and Lori added, “Well, there is one Shark left.” And Mr. Wonderful replied, “Yes, there is, and I find your model now really attractive.” O’Leary then made an offer of $200k for 20%, but he wanted a royalty of $4 per unit until he recouped his money, and then the royalty would drop to $.50 in perpetuity. 

James then turned to Barbara to ask her if she would do the deal for 25%, and Barbara said if Ash would allow her to have James as her third husband when Ash was through with him, Ash smiled and said, “Take him.” And then she said to Barbara, “We have a deal.”

Cincha Travel Shark Tank update, what happened next?

Like for many other Shark Tank companies, Cincha Travel experienced a huge Shark Tank effect boost in sales as soon as their episode aired. The company quickly sold out of their flagship product, the Travel Belt, and this boost in sales was quickly followed by a boost in publicity from national media as well. 

Shortly after the Cincha Travel episode aired, they appeared in BuzzFeed and Architectural Digest, and both CNN and The View aired spots on the company’s products. Cincha Travel has also expanded its product line since appearing in the Tank, first with The Belt Buddy, a detachable case with a Travel Belt, so travelers can have easier access to essential things like a phone, wallet, or passport. The company also launched an Italian collection of their Travel Belts and Cincha Travel Bags, and the company put out an Instagram post saying, “This was our most successful launch to date.” 

We have not found a confirmed press release indicating that the deal between Barbara Corcoran and Cincha has closed; however, the company is offering a special Barb Bundle on its website, and they market the bundle with a photo of Shark Barbara Corcoran. Finally, it will be interesting to discover whether or not the deal with Barbara has closed, and if so, if the team decides to try to move Cincha Travel into the retail market, particularly into the highly-competitive market of the airport concessionaires.