This is the story of the rise and fall of Thrive Aquatics, and their missteps with the Thrive Water Lab which led to empty promises to retail stores across the United States and abroad.
It was a cold morning when Jeff logged onto this site to check the daily news of the aquatics industry. The day seemed no different from any other but one article caught his eye. Thrive Aquatics, the quickly growing supplement company was set to release their Thrive Water Lab and as Jeff read it could revolutionize the local fish store-testing scene.
The principal of the unit was simple: Customers could come to a local fish store to have their aquarium water tested professionally and automatically by a machine that would give exact and accurate results then, once complete, the customer could shop the local goods of the pet store based off the results. It all made very good business sense as hobbyists struggle with water quality testing—often having to use testing kits that can be messy and very prone to user error.
The Thrive Aquatics Water Lab which turned out to be an empty promise for store owners
Initially the concept was extremely popular among local fish store owners and more importantly hobbyists who did not mind spending $2 a test to receive accurate results. Fish store owners were told to put down a sizable deposit for the machine as it was fairly complicated piece of software and hardware. A few stores balked at the price while the vast majority did send the funds off to Thrive Aquatics and were told in the late summer of 2013 they would start to receive their machines.
In early 2014 it was noticed the Water Labs were not shipped to the stores who pre ordered the device and stores begin to question the status of the project. The stores received communication regarding the status of their machine: it was delayed and would begin shipping in late 2014. Fast forward to 2016 and the machines still have not shipped to the stores.
Interestingly, the company was noticeably absent at aquarium conference shows for the past several years. The company would spend large sums of money on social events with entertainment and catered meals to woo stores and consumers with their wares.
Jeff who cobbled together the initial deposit for the machine was worried—he could not afford to have his $5K investment outstanding forever. While Jeff was worried about his deposit he was not alone, several stores have reached out to us regarding the silence of Thrive Aquatics and they promised to deliver the water lab very soon.
The same story was told to Daniel Feig owner of Fishy Bizness a well known Phoenix, Arizona fish store who paid a $10K deposit for the machine. He still has not received the waterlab or a refund to his deposit of $10,000US even with multiple promises of a refund or the actual machine.
Daniel Feig, owner of Fishy Bizness asking Thrive on Facebook about his WaterLab refund. This message was removed from the Thrive Aquatics Facebook page.
Enter David D’Aquin, who is CEO of Coral Vue a popular distributor of aquatics equipment and supplies to local fish stores throughout the United States. He had been approached by Thrive Aquatics to sell their Coral RX brand to him for a large sum of money. Thrive has been communicating to companies it would use the funds to refund stores the deposit of the Water Lab and pay outstanding invoices from other companies. In fact, Thrive Aquatics reached out to us and we were told a similar story and additional store owners have confirmed this to be the case.
Coral RX – The brand that Blue Ocean Corals, LLC is attempting to sell
However, we were approached by David D’Aquin CEO at Coral Vue and were told the rest of the story.
We did due diligence on thrive aquatics and decided to pull our offer for their Coral RX brand.
Reef Builders has learned the due diligence included discovering a lawsuit brought on by Blue Ocean Corals, LLC the legal company of Thrive Aquatics and Coral RX. The lawsuit was against Phoenix Kiosk a company contracted by Thrive Aquatics to help build their Water Lab. Evidently things did not go so well with their agreement and the companies relationship deteriorated to the point of a lawsuit. Even though the original lawsuit was dismissed by a technical forum non conveniens tactic it shows a higher problem between the two companies.
Interestingly, Thrive Aquatics did make a large source of their revenue from their core product line of additives and refill kits for a large portion of fish stores in North America. Several stores we have visited and interviewed have stopped selling Thrive products and have made deals to clear the remaining inventory from their shelves. These stores in turn have turned their attention to other additives to offer their customers. With the dwindling cash flow for Thrive Aquatics a major fund infusion would be necessary to keep the company able to pay off their mounting debts.
With no company set to purchase the Coral RX brand, Thrive Aquatics has a major cash flow problem and it would seem that the retail stores and other companies due funds would be left to fend for themselves.
We reached out to Thrive Aquatics directly and received this response.
We are currently working on a deal with another buyer. If and when it closes, our plan is the same. We will make everyone whole and begin manufacturing the WaterLab. We do still have a few stores that have kept their pre-orders intact and are ready to receive their WaterLab. We are committed to make that happen and appreciate the support that the community has shown us to this point.
We can not independently confirm that another deal is in the works as none of our sources can verify the comment made by Thrive Aquatics. For now the consensus of our investigation concludes with the facts: the odds of stores receiving a refund are very slim and stores owners will be out the funds they put down for a deposit.
Lawsuit against Kiosk Company dismissed:
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