Any plans to expand beyond paddle boards?
I definitely plan to pitch other businesses to Cuban once I make him some real money with Tower. I've got three other business plans I'm sitting on. ... We've built a great foundation now, and my vision is that we can develop Tower into a prominent beach lifestyle brand. We've already expanded beyond our original pure e-commerce business and built a U.S. based paddle board factory to make high-end boards out of exotic materials. We're a manufacturing company now, in addition to a marketing company.
What has your involvement with the sharks been after the show?
I've never spoken with Cuban in person since the show, and I don't even have his phone number, but I can bounce things off him by e-mail and he responds remarkably fast, even late in the evening or on weekends. He's certainly the hardest working billionaire I know!
What would you advise an entrepreneur about to enter the tank?
My first piece of advice is that they need to get comfortable with giving away a piece of their company for much less than they think it's worth. That's just a reality of the show, ... not to mention, entrepreneurs tend to overvalue their businesses as they don't perceive all of the risks that an investor truly faces.
My second piece of advice is that which investor you go with is critical. Don't take the best financial deal. Rather, take the best investor for your company and your needs. ... I could leverage a celebrity endorsement, so I went with who I felt was the biggest celebrity on the panel, and I went in valuing his money at three times the rest of the sharks. You should go in with a multiple on what value you place on each shark cash.
Lastly, I frequently advise entrepreneurs to ask for a throw-in just before they accept a "shark's" offer. ... If I were to do the deal again, just before accepting Cuban's offer I would have asked, "If I hit this out of the park for you and we do "X" million dollars—$2 million for me—in sales next year, and we need more money to grow, will you float me a $500,000 line of credit to fund growth?" If they say, no, still take the deal. But if they say yes, then you've just prepared yourself better for success.
By Jill Weinberger and Liza Hughes