Company: Locker Board
Founder: Carson Kropfl
Season: Appeared on the season 9 premiere
Locker Board is a sustainable skateboard that can easily fit into a school locker or backpack. The boards feature a variety of designs and start at $99.
According to their website, the non-folding, 17-inch skateboard was created in 2016 and are upcycled from recycled decks and boards. The “sustainability-driven business model emphasizes upcycling and reuse of old boards, effectively reducing the volume of manufactured waste destined for local landfills.” The skateboards feature names such as “British Invasion” and “Dream Hard.”
When Carson and “Chief Mom Officer” Carrie Kropfl originally appeared on “Shark Tank,” they came in asking for $60,000 for 15 percent equity. Neither Lori Greiner nor Daymond John saw it as investable at that point and went out. However, Locker Board ended up receiving three offers from Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec and guest shark Richard Branson. Ultimately, kidpreneur Carson accepted Branson’s offer of $65,000 for 20 percent.
Carrie Kropfl, Locker Board’s chief mom/marketing officer, spoke with Business 2 Community about Locker Board’s experience on the show and what their next steps are. Take a look at the Q&A below:
Q&A with Locker Board’s CMO Carrie Kropfl
What was your strategy for navigating “Shark Tank”?
When Carson was 9-years-old, he went on a family vacation and met a “Shark Tank” producer in the elevator of his hotel. Carson’s Dad, Keith, noticed a “Shark Tank” logo on the producer’s sweatshirt and started asking questions. The man, Max Swedlow, told them he was one of the producers for the show. Carson cornered Max in the elevator and showed him photos from my phone of his first invention, Streetubez. Max said, “You’re not ready for ‘Shark Tank’ yet.” Max was kind enough to give Carson’s parents his contact information and the Kropfls stayed in touch. They would update Max on Carson’s progress and pitched different angles for the show.
Four years later, Carson had invented his second product, Locker Board skateboards. He was growing quickly and in need of an investor, so he reached out to Max and told him what was going on. Max loved the story behind Locker Board, the product’s uniqueness and the success that Carson was having, so he invited Carson to apply to season 9 of “Shark Tank.” Carson had to work hard to ensure he got on the show and his show made the cut. He focused on the story of Locker Board, the fact that his product was sustainable, his age and the important companies and people that were helping in his success. He also made sure to create something visually exciting, keeping in mind that he had to put on a good show. He wanted to make sure he included women/girls because his product is unisex, so he invited one of his best friends, Sierra Downer, to help him demonstrate his products.
Once he was invited to pitch on the show, he stopped watching “Shark Tank” in order to be more authentic and in the moment. He didn’t want it to sound too scripted and wanted his show to be unique. Finally, he kept his pitch and answers to the sharks’ questions simple. He came up with questions he thought would be asked and always answered with the same three key points. He made sure to keep the three points simple and memorable – like sound bites. Once he memorized the three key points to the different questions – he was able to focus on having fun and showing his personality. Being in the moment, making eye contact with all of the sharks and being able to switch gears was an important part of his success.
How has Locker Board changed since the episode was first recorded? Since it aired?
Since the “Shark Tank” episode, sales have grown by 200 percent in one month, Carson has been featured in top-tier media outlets, social media engagement and his follower base has tripled, email subscriptions have tripled and website traffic has grown 200 percent in 30 days compared to one year of web traffic. A retail chain, Erik’s, has picked up Locker Boards for this holiday season with placement in 30 of their stores.
Carson also spoke at St. Louis University to 1,000 kids about entrepreneurship and was recently invited to the USC Marshall School of Business to speak to their undergrads on how to formulate a pitch. Nike is mentoring Carson about innovation and sustainability for future projects. The Virgin Group has asked Carson to be a contributor to their Entrepreneur blog, and his first article was posted on Thanksgiving Day 2017 as the lead article on Virgin.com. Other opportunities with Sir Richard Branson and Nike are pending and will be announced in 2018.
Is there anything you would have changed about your time spent in the tank, including your pitch and valuation?
Carson is so grateful for his time on “Shark Tank.” He wishes there was a longer demo of Locker Board skateboards on the show and he would’ve tried to sound less nervous. For me, I wish I had been more in the moment and able to relax and enjoy the experience. Carson also says, if he had known that three sharks were going to battle over interest in his company, he would have asked for more money!
Who’s your favorite Shark?
Sir Richard Branson is Carson’s favorite shark, of course! But, he didn’t know Branson was going to be on the show. During his preparations, he was focused on landing Mark Cuban. Carson found out a few hours before he filmed his episode that Branson was a guest shark. When Cuban and Branson battled for the investor position it was one of the toughest decisions of Carson’s life. When Carson met Branson, he felt an instant connection with him and decided to go with Mr. Branson’s offer. Being in the moment and able to switch gears based on what you are experiencing right then-and-there was an important part of Carson’s success. If you get stuck on an idea or plan, then you’ll miss an opportunity.
Do you think “Shark Tank” was the right move for your business?
Yes! Carson learned so much about growing and scaling a business. Even to get on the show, the process forces you as a business to think more deeply. Being part of the show and watching the business evolve forced us to reach out to mentors for help. The relationships with mentors like Nike have blossomed from this experience and Carson has learned tremendous things from Noah Murphy-Reinhertz, the Sustainable Lead at Nike Space Kitchen on how to grow his business to scale, and keep it sustainable. We are so thankful for our partners. Carson is also learning from Branson on how to delegate to take his business to the next level. For instance, Carson no longer makes the boards in his workshop, he uses a manufacturer, PS Stix, to create his Locker Board skateboards and a fulfillment center to ship them.
What are Locker Board’s next steps?
Carson hopes to take Locker Board worldwide! On the show, he said he wants to be everywhere, like Branson! He is helping him get the word out internationally. Virgin invited him to write a guest blog that hit on Thanksgiving Day as the lead story on Virgin.com. Locker Board makes the perfect holiday gift and he hopes kids will ask for it and hopes to see it under every Christmas tree for years to come. Locker Board aims to be a lifestyle brand and hopes to expand into skateboard accessories, clothing and more.
I’m thankful for @virgin and @richardbranson – check out my guest blog on Virgin.com today!!! #richardbranson #sharktank #nike #nikesb #lockerboard #skateboard #christmasgift #giftsforkids #giftideas #younginventors #gifts #outdoortoys #skateordie #skaterslife #skatelife #virgin #nikesb #sharktank #recycledproducts #tonyhawk #blessed #timber #futureofskateboarding #teenceo
Where do you see this industry in 5-10 years?
Carson hopes to see more sustainability and innovative new, products in the skate world. Over 13 million skateboard decks are thrown away in the US each year. If the industry would embrace this and come up with innovative solutions, they could be leaders in the sustainability movement. Working with Nike is really teaching Carson a lot about the importance of creating and supporting sustainable products. The skate industry is changing to online retail and advertising through social media and influencers. Over 55 percent of people who purchased Locker Boards on Lockerboard.net, purchased from their mobile device. This industry is moving online and mobile devices are the key.
What would you say to people who want to start their own business?
When Carson travels and speaks to kids his age, fellow entrepreneurs and those interested in starting a business he focuses on the following:
- Be yourself
- Seize the moment
- Solve a problem
- Ask for help
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who want to make it on “Shark Tank”?
Carson tells others interested in being on “Shark Tank” to never give up and believe in yourself. Practice your elevator pitch and ask the right questions. When Sir Richard Branson made his offer, Carson asked, “What will you do for me?” And his answer was the difference between Mark and Sir Richard. Be fearless, seize the moment and tell those who care about your dreams—you never know who will help you out. Carson said patience helped him stay on the path to “Shark Tank,” he could’ve given up with his first invention, but he kept going.
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length
Read more: Shark Tank Update: BrilliantPad