Sometimes, the entrepreneurs who pitch on Shark Tank have worked very hard to get there. While pursuing any new business is no small feat, just getting on the show is a challenge. Slyde Handboards, who pitch their unique body surfing accessory on Friday night’s show, applied to Shark Tank three times. When they finally got the call saying they’d been accepted, there was another surprise in store: guest judge Ashton Kutcher would be on the panel.
Angela Watts told O.C. Register that Kutcher’s presence was great for them, whether or not he invests — and the husband-and-wife team aren’t spilling the outcome before the broadcast.
“Even just him knowing about our business is cool.”
Friday is Kutcher’s second appearance on Shark Tank Season 7. He held court early last fall and got into a minor spat with Kevin O’Leary when McClary Bros. drinking vinegars made its pitch.
Is a fight in store for this Friday? Whether or not the sharks like the concept of Slyde Handboards, the company has strong sales numbers. Watts wrote last summer that the business is worth $1 million. Her Huffington Post article was a first-person account of working with her husband Steve, who started the company in 2010 before they met. Eventually, Angela quit her job to work with Steve on Slyde Handboards full time, growing the business from $40,000 to $1 million.
— Shark Tank (@ABCSharkTank) April 13, 2016
Steve Watts came up with the idea of handboards after realizing there was no other product in the market that could make his body surfing experience faster. He used his degree in product design to conceive of the product. A staffer for Slyde Handboards called the handboards a mix between a surfboard and snowboard that encompasses the whole hand.
Steve told Transworld Business that it was difficult to raise funds to grow the company, since they market to a niche consumer in a new industry. So they sought out investment on Shark Tank. If they have their way, their product won’t remain niche for much longer.
“It is extremely difficult to grow a business with a sport that most people have never heard of, especially when you don’t have the funds for a marketing budget. We went to the Sharks to get their expertise and hopefully secure funding, so we can take Slyde Handboards to the next level as a global brand.”
The Watts could not tell anyone about their upcoming Shark Tank appearance until two weeks ago when their air date was announced. They are planning a viewing party Friday night with supporters.
Whether or not an investment is forthcoming, the publicity from an appearance on the show often helps companies receive a spike in sales. Angela told Transworld that even stepping onto the Shark Tank carpet to pitch felt like a victory after putting in so much effort to get there.
“We have tried to get on Shark Tank for the last three seasons. This year when we finally heard back from the producers that we were accepted to the show, we were over the moon with excitement. It felt like our hard work and dedication to growing Slyde over the past 5 years was finally paying off.”
The show receives about 50,000 applications for a limited number of spots every season. Some companies are recruited by the show and invited to pitch. The entrepreneurs behind drone company xCraft reported getting a call from Shark Tank after show producers saw their product on Kickstarter.
Ashton Kutcher and regular Shark Tank investors Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, and Robert Herjavec will assess Slyde Handboards’ pitch Friday night at 9 p.m. on ABC.
[Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images]