Adventure Capitalists

Why one 'Adventure Capitalists' investor thinks this motorized paddleboard start-up is worth $1.25 million

For avid stand-up paddleboarders, the ElectraFin might seem like cheating.

The electric-powered motor attaches to paddleboards to help users go as much as three times faster.

It initially unnerved potential investor Craig Cooper, co-host of CNBC's new reality show "Adventure Capitalists," in which entrepreneurs pitch their adventure products to investors in the great outdoors.

"When I first saw the ElectraFin, I was like, 'What have you done to this sport?'" said Cooper, an Australian-born venture capitalist, entrepreneur and men's health expert. "You're supposed to be paddling, not motoring."

ElectraFin is manufactured by the start-up Current Drives. Its founder, Mike Radenbaugh, and director of business development, Marimar White-Espin, appeared on Monday's show to demo the product to Cooper, former NFL linebacker and current private equity investor Dhani Jones, and Olympic ski champion and businessman Jeremy Bloom.

Despite some doubts about the product's high retail cost, Radenbaugh and White-Espin walked away with a $250,000 investment, valuing the 3-year-old company at $1.25 million.

Mike Radenbaugh and Marimar White-Espin of company Current Drives pitch their product, the ElectraFin, on the premiere episode of CNBC’s Adventure Capitalists. The two worked together developing electric bikes in the Northwest before developing an electric-motored stand-up paddleboard. Mike Radenbaugh and Marimar White-Espin
CNBC
Mike Radenbaugh and Marimar White-Espin of company Current Drives pitch their product, the ElectraFin, on the premiere episode of CNBC’s Adventure Capitalists. The two worked together developing electric bikes in the Northwest before developing an electric-motored stand-up paddleboard. Mike Radenbaugh and Marimar White-Espin

Radenbaugh, an industrial designer who previously founded electric bike company Rad Power Bikes along with White-Espin, developed ElectraFin in 2011 and shipped the first one in 2013. He and White-Espin saw a need for it based on their own experiences struggling to paddle in unpredictable weather.

"People don't want to go out when it's a little bit windy or the current's a little too strong," said White-Espin.

The ElectraFin, the first of its kind to hit the market, has already demonstrated appeal among first-time paddlers, fishermen and casual vacationers. Since 2013, it's made over $420,000 in sales and sold 210 conversion kits and 45 folding propellers.

No tools are required to attach the ElectraFin to the bottom of a stand-up paddle board. It can be installed in under one minute using ElectraFin’s patent pending design.
CNBC
No tools are required to attach the ElectraFin to the bottom of a stand-up paddle board. It can be installed in under one minute using ElectraFin’s patent pending design.

All three investors were impressed with the product's speed and functionality: Its motor can reach speeds of 5 mph and cover a distance of 20 miles.

"I'm going three times as fast as I normally would," Cooper said.

"Very simple to use, easy to mount, and it created a lot of propulsion actually," Bloom added.

Despite the investors' positive experience on the water, their biggest sticking point was the product's price tag.

The $1,625 retail cost for the ElectraFin — which includes an electric power fin, a waterproof lithium battery and a wireless remote — does not include the paddleboard itself, which costs $1,300 on average in the U.S.

Venture capitalist Jeremy Bloom tests out the ElectraFin on a lake in California’s Sierra Nevadas on the premiere episode of CNBC’s “Adventure Capitalists."
CNBC
Venture capitalist Jeremy Bloom tests out the ElectraFin on a lake in California’s Sierra Nevadas on the premiere episode of CNBC’s “Adventure Capitalists."

Ultimately, the investors saw a market for the product, and Bloom offered a $250,000 investment for a 20 percent equity stake in the company.

"The price point is way too high, but somebody's going to win this category," Bloom said. "I want them to become the de facto motor for all the manufacturers."

With Bloom's cash, the team intends to purchase more inventory and optimize their production process with the goal to eventually drive down manufacturing and retail costs.