Don’t judge a pitch by its delivery. When entrepreneur Stephan Aarstol took his company on Shark Tank, he forgot his words halfway through the pitch. Even so, Mark Cuban saw the real value of the startup, which ultimately became one of his best investments ever. As of 2023, Tower Paddle Boards is worth an estimated $15 million.
About the Founder
Stephan Aarstol is a serial entrepreneur from Bellingham, Washington and has a BA in finance, marketing, and decision sciences from Western Washington University. Aarstol, also earned an MBA from the University of San Diego.
In 1999, Aarstol launched AuntMinnie.com, an innovative website for the medical imaging industry. After leaving the company, he focused on manufacturing premium poker chips with BuyPokerChips.com and developmental toys with Discmo Kids Toys.
He later founded SmartBar Drink Tokens to sell souvenirs, drinks, and tokens. In 2009, he was hired as a principal consultant at iCondotta, a consulting company for e-commerce and other online marketing services.
Founding the Company
Stephan had a hectic lifestyle but still made time to relax at various beaches around San Diego. While on vacation there, he noticed people were trying out standup paddleboarding.
He later discovered that it was the fastest-growing sport in America at the time. As a business-minded person, he jumped on the trend and researched how he could manufacture paddle boards.
Tower Paddle Boards was launched in 2010 and they made regular and inflatable boards. Though they were affordable, they were high-quality. Because of this, the entrepreneur made $100,000 in sales in just four months.
Shark Tank Appearance
Stephan Aarstol was a savvy digital marketer and knew how to promote his business online. Despite this, he was looking to raise capital to boost production. In 2011, he appeared on season three of Shark, seeking $150,000 for 10%.
Although he already had a lot of business experience, Stephan was nervous pitching the business, he froze under the spotlight and forgot his lines. Thankfully, he regained his composure and went on to impress the Sharks.
Aarstol recovered well and once the Sharks heard about his startup’s revenue, they were eager to invest. In the end, Mark Cuban agreed to invest $150,000 for a 30% stake.
After Shark Tank
Since appearing on the reality show and closing the deal with Cuban, Tower Paddle Boards has been dominating its niche swimmingly. They have gone on to become one of Mark Cuban’s best ever deals on the show. In 2014, the firm was named as the fastest-growing private company in San Diego.
Apart from paddle boards, the company now sells other outdoor sports accessories like surfboards, skateboards, beach tents, apparel, electric bikes, and more. They are all available on Amazon and TowerPaddleBoards.com.
Their inflatable paddle boards are top-sellers on Amazon, and they are mostly rated above 4 stars. By the end of 2018, their lifetime sales reached $34 million and have served over 100,000 customers since 2010. Despite the success, they went through some tough times when their revenue dropped from $4.3 million in 2018 to $2 million in 2019. Thankfully, Aarstol was able to turn the company around.
Currently, Tower Paddle Boards makes $500,000 per month in sales and only has six employees! Lifetime sales now stand at over $40 million! A remarkable success story for one of the worst ever pitches on Shark Tank.