TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – It was ten years in the making, but Traverse City brothers Garret and Dakota Porter got an investment for their company after appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank series.
The brothers rode into the tank on their lighted-up skateboards looking for one of the Sharks to invest in their company.
Dakota started off the pitch by saying, “We’re action sport junkies and we’ve been snowboarding since before we could even walk. As teenagers, we practically lived out on the slopes. And because the sun always sets so early in the winter, a lot of our snowboarding was typically done at night.”
He went on to say, “And sure they’ve got big spotlights, but when that sun goes down, the atmosphere becomes miserably boring. But one night, we decided to change it and create ActionGlow. Action Glow is an after-market LED lighting system for sporting equipment. It allows riders to express their personal style while also adding an element of safety.”
He added, “Over the last few years, professional athletes and action sport enthusiasts worldwide have been turning to ActionGlow for their night-riding adventures. We currently offer eight different applications, ranging from snowboards to surfboards. And the best part is, our systems can be applied in just five minutes to any branded sporting equipment.”
The brothers showed old videos of them pitching their idea when they applied back in 2012 at the ages of 14 and 17 – and then again in 2014 and 2016. Their company, 45th Parallel Lighting LLC, was started in 2012 and they got their full utility patent in 2016 for “decorative lighting systems for sporting equipment.” Garret is now 24-years-old and Dakota is 27-years-old.
Their LED lighting kits can be used for snowboards, skis, surfboards, bikes, kayaks and other sports gear.
When asked about costs, they told the Sharks that their systems sell for $49 and it costs $15 to make them. They also said that they are all hand-assembled and mailed out by the brothers. They said their sales have all been word-of-mouth and through social media and that over the lifetime of the product, they’ve made $130K, almost half of that in the last two years after they graduated from college.
They want to grow but are worried about keeping up with orders.
Many of the Sharks went out of the bidding quickly, without even asking questions.
O’Leary said he thought they would be too busy suing people over the patent when other folks made knockoffs of the product.
Lori Greiner said that the company was too small and not for her.
Mark Cuban said it was a “tough business for an investment” and not a fit for him.
Barbara Corcoran wasn’t impressed with their sales and bowed out.
Robert Herjavec, who is usually up for an investment in sporting ideas and things that are “fun” said that he WAS impressed with them. But he wanted more equity.
He also said they needed more “discipline” with their high energy plans.
Herjavec offered $200K for 30% equity. The brothers had originally only wanted to offer 15% equity. The brothers countered to lower the equity amount to 20% or 25% but Herjavec said no. He said there was a lot of stuff to figure out and that it was an investment in them.
Greiner told the brothers, “Guys, you’ve been trying to get in here for ten years and now you have an offer. Don’t blow it.”
The brothers took Herjavec’s offer and gave him a free skateboard with their LED lighting before they left the room.
Outside of the Tank, Dakota said, “We’ve been waiting ten years to get in the Tank and we just made a deal with our dream Shark, Robert. We couldn’t be any more excited and we hope that our story and dedication inspires the next generation of young entrepreneurs.”
According to the Traverse City Ticker, the brothers have “received mentorship and funding from numerous Traverse City groups” in the past including SCORE and Venture North. Garret had told the Ticker, “We couldn’t have done it without the support of the community.”
Garret also told the Ticker how the idea was born. He said, “Everything looked so bland, with white spotlights on white snow. It was just white, white, white. It came to Dakota’s mind: ‘What if we put LED lights on our equipment?’ We came up with a prototype, and when we went back to the ski slope a couple weeks later, we got an overwhelming reaction. Everybody wanted to know what this was and how to get one. We thought we might actually have a good idea…and could open a company around this product.”