Angela Watts’ mother saved $10,000 for her and her fiancé Steve’s wedding, but instead of using it to get hitched, they put $8,000 of it into their surfing company Slyde Handboards ahead of their “Shark Tank” pitch last June.
The couple has since been married, and the Watts told Business Insider that since their pitch aired in the latest episode of the show’s seventh season, “We haven’t been able to keep up with the orders, because they just keep coming in.”
Mark Cuban and guest Shark Ashton Kutcher split a $200,000 investment for a 22% stake in the company, and the deal closed last November.
Angela Watts told the Orange County Register that the deal changed their lives, easing their struggle to scrape by, and allowing them to move operations from their bedroom in Dana Point, California to a proper office in San Clemente, several miles south.
In the Tank, the Watts sought $200,000 for 25% equity for their company, which Steve founded in 2010. He grew up body surfing in South Africa, and he enjoyed using random flat objects, like a fast food tray, as hand planes to help him gain more control over a wave as he glided across it. It’s a practice that’s been around for decades, but Watts wanted to create a hand plane with the same careful design companies put into surfboards.
The average Slyde handboard retails for about $170. Here’s one of them in action:
Watts’ future wife Angela joined Slyde in 2013 in a role similar to co-CEO, and the two committed full-time to Slyde and invested roughly $40,000 of their own money into the company — their life savings. To get the company rolling, the couple lived off credit card debt (which they’re still paying off) and didn’t pay themselves a salary.
They applied three times to “Shark Tank,” and when they finally were accepted, their total sales from 2011 to the first half of 2015 were $356,000, and they expected to end 2015 with $295,000 in annual revenue.
The numbers were a bit low for the Sharks, but Cuban wasn’t worried, because one of his best investments from the show has been Tower Paddle Boards, which is highly profitable and bringing in around $10 million in annual revenue. He considered Slyde Handboards to be a perfect complement to his surfing business. Kutcher, whose investments include Uber and Airbnb, said that the surfing space was way out of his element, but he could see himself using the product and saw potential for big sales.
Kutcher said he’d be happy to join his buddy Cuban in a deal for 25% equity, which the Watts were able to negotiate down to 22% after both Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec made offers. The Watts made a deal with Kutcher and Cuban after considering the value of their talents and networks.
“We could not have asked for better partners,” the Watts told us via email. “Both have been incredible in helping us in not only refining our message and brand but helping us focus on the right things to grow the business. Ashton and his team are social media wizards and Ashton himself has some really awesome ideas for the brand and Mark and his team have brought a level of business knowledge to our team that any Fortune 500 company would kill for.”
Since closing their deal last year, the Watts have regularly stayed in touch with Cuban and Kutcher via email, and they have weekly conference calls with Kutcher and his team to discuss strategy.
Cuban has also hooked Slyde up with Amazon Exclusives to give them continued exposure.
The Watts said that Kutcher’s comment, “This is cool ’cause you’re cool,” gave them confidence that he and Cuban would respect their brand.
“The attitude both of them displayed on the show toward keeping to our roots was a huge reason for us choosing them,” they said.