by steven watts April 25, 2017

Slyde Handboards recently celebrated their 1 year anniversary of appearing on ABC's Shark Tank.

Inc. Magazine was the 1st to get the inside scoop from Slyde's co-owners and Ashton Kutcher himself on what happens post Shark Tank.  
Read the full edit HERE & the unedited raw version below:
  1. It has been a year since you first got the large investment on Shark Tank from Ashton Kutcher and Mark Cuban. How big of an impact did that have on your business?

The investment we received from Mark and Ashton has been absolutely invaluable. At the time of the investment we had literally used all our available resources to keep the Slyde going. We had borrowed money from my brother, my dad , Ang’s Dad and her Mom. We were really at a stage where we were running out of options, so to say that the investment came at just the right time is an understatement.  

Aside from them giving our business validation and an infusion of money, they have supported us every step of the way this past year.  In one year, our business has grown 300%. However, what has been far more valuable to us has been the input from both Mark and Ashton and their respective teams. We are in contact with them on a weekly basis, and although they let us run the business and make all the decisions, to have the kind of infrastructure and contact with them both has been beyond what either of us expected.

We knew going into the investment that it's not uncommon for investors to simply put in the money and wait for their return, but we have had the added input of two highly respected entrepreneurs. Anybody who has tried to start their own company will know, having that sort of mentorship is worth way more than any amount of money. The result has made us want to work even harder to make sure that we make Slyde an incredibly valuable return for them, because of the commitment and faith that they shown us, when not many people believed in what we were trying to accomplish.

Also I think it’s worth pointing out that we also use our relationship with them to the very best of our abilities. Their influence has opened so many doors for us to relationships with companies and individuals that a company of our size usually wouldn’t have the ability to reach.

My biggest piece of advice for a small company seeking investment. and in particular if you are lucky enough to be able to get onto Shark tank is that it’s what you make of it. A lot of people think that you win the money or the minute you air it’s smooth sailing from there. Even our closest friends ask well aren't you rich now. After you get investment, is when the real hard work begins. I am writing this at 7am on a sunday morning, so you see you work harder than you would ever work, but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

  1. How has that relationship, other than the money, benefitted your business since?

As I mentioned above an investment is what you make of it and nowhere is that more true than with high profile investors. We have been given an opportunity that not many people get in a lifetime. I feel like we won, but in reality we worked unbelievably hard for a very long time and had to endure some incredibly tough times where we did not know if we were going to be able to continue with the business.

Everyday, I get up and I am thankful for the people that have shown us so much faith and support and (especially two incredible people like Ashton and Mark) is something that is almost out of a dream.  We understand that this is an opportunity that you take with both hands and work harder than you ever have to make sure you make the most out of such an incredible relationship.

Money can only get you so far, but the influence from just the fact that people know we have these two incredible people as part owners of Slyde has been immeasurable.

I am not shy in saying that I have learnt the art of the name dropping and I will conveniently place our relationship in a conversion or email, if we want to get what we need and that in itself has been worth more than the investment.

Also being part of the Cuban invested companies we have a huge network of companies Like Power Practical and Luminaid, that we are all now good friends with and continuously look to each other for resources.

On top of that we have the incredible resources from both their teams. We have a Abe, from Mark’s team, who has hooked us up with pretty much every resource under the sun from a personal contact at Amazon Exclusives to retail relationships for our latest board the Grom. We also have access to Accounting, Web and SEO management that not only takes care of all our finances but gives invaluable advice.     

  1. How much has Slyde grown from when you proposed your business to the Shark Tank investors and up to now?

By the time we actually got to film which was almost a full year before we aired we had seen some great growth of 100% year over year - but since we aired we grew 300%.. However, it was a very niche sport that almost anybody outside of the core surf and ocean community had not heard of. So even though we had great growth going from 60k to 120k still meant we needed help. Our biggest barrier to entry has been EDUCATION, not only educating people on a sport that had never heard of, but how much fun it was. The minute somebody tries one they are hooked because it’s the one wave riding toy that allows anybody no matter their ability to be able to ride a wave and learn quickly.

With Shark Tank we got instant access to 8 million potential customers that could hear our story and really understand how our product worked.  We immediately saw an incredible increase in conversion and what was more pleasing was the level of “ohhhh, I get” it from people and resonating exactly what we had been trying to tell people all along.  

We saw and continue to see an incredible increase in the growth of the sport and it’s a source of great pride for us that we are the company that has brought this to life and we are in the enviable position as the leader in the category and we will continue to innovate and improve, so that we continue to bring new people to our community that is growing on a daily basis. 

  1. Investors and business owners can often have strained relationships if there are conflicting opinions. Has your relationship with Cuban and Kutcher ever hit a rough patch? How did you handle the situation?

No, not even in the slightest and we are are very aware we are very lucky for that, as we have heard of some disastrous company investor relationships . We have all created a very harmonious relationship I think for two reasons. Mark and Ashton both truly believe in the vision of the company and where we are heading, and everyone is 100% onboard with that and they are both really respectful of that and they’re  in for the long haul as we continue to create a meaningful and sustainable brand.

I think the other reason is that both myself and Ange, is that we leave our  egos’s at the door. We are not here to make Slyde for ourselves, we are here to build it for our community.  We don’t let egos get in the way of making good decisions, that will help the company thrive. Both Ashton and Mark know we have been doing this for a long time and are the professionals in this field and they let us make decisions in that regard, and we lean on them for business advice, so It has worked out incredibly well and I don't see that changing.  

  1. (Ashton) have never invested in a product quite like Slyde. What convinced about the business to invest?

I've made a couple investments in the consumer goods space, but mostly food and beverage. Slyde is a bit of an outlier for me. I think the thing that put me over the top was how driven the founders are and how differentiated the product is.

  1. (Ashton) Have you been heavily involved in Slyde’s affairs or have you given free reign to the owners?

    My personally philosophy around investing is that if you invest in the right people it's in your best interest to be helpful but not overbearing. I've done some consulting with them on their marketing efforts and distribution but these guys run a tight beautiful business.

"If this past year's growth is any indication of the company's future, we'll be seeing a lot more Slyde Handboards at the beach in years to come." Brian Evans Inc. Magazine

steven watts
steven watts

Growing up in South Africa, Steve spent his youth dreaming of far off places. After spending eight years extensively traveling to many of the great surf destinations of the world getting dengue fever, having a near death experience from a falling coconut in mexico, Surviving a 15 foot drop on a handboard on a Nias bomb, jumping from every rock he could find without adequate health insurance. and comprehensively debunking the myth there are no waves in Thailand, even if they are small. He decided it was time for a a degree. Steve Graduated from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London with a degree in product design. He missed his graduation to go surfing in Californian, found a kindred spirit with Venice and never left


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