Company with Vail Valley ties gets ‘Shark Tank’ deal
Gypsum resident Ken Hoeve shares what went on behind the scenes of episode
If you didn’t know about Flated before last Friday, chances are you know about it now. The start-up with ties to the Vail Valley just got a $350,000 boost from one of the investors on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
Flated is a company that launched in Nov. of 2021 and makes products out of inflatable drop-stitch material, the same kind used in inflatable standup paddle boards. Versatile and practical products like toppers for trucks, cargo carriers and decks for sleeping in your truck bed or van can be added and removed easily and can be stored when they are not in use.
Gypsum resident Ken Hoeve is one of four founders that created Flated. Hoeve heads up the marketing with his videos and social media stories and posts about the Flated products being used out in the elements. Other partners include Ryan Guay of Montana who serves as the chief operating officer. Chief financial officer Monique Keefer and product designer Dan Watts hail from California.
The company went to film at the “Shark Tank” studios in Culver, City, California, in September and the episode aired last Friday.
Hoeve said he was more nervous to see the edited version than he was when they filmed it.
Support Local Journalism
“You just never know how they are going to edit it, what parts of our presentation they are going to use, you just don’t know how it is going to come out,” Hoeve said.
Hoeve, Keefer and Guay did the presentation to the sharks. The episode’s shark tank included Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Daymond John, Lori Grenier and Robert Herjavec.
The team from Flated only had a few minutes to explain the products and technology used to create them, talk about valuation and what dollar amount they were wanting the shark or sharks to invest. Flated asked for $350,000 for 5% of the company.
Investor Kevin O’Leary, also known on the show as “Mr. Wonderful,” asked what it cost to make the products and what they sell for. The truck topper sells for $1,800 and it costs about $740 to make. The sleeping platform sells for $550 to $699 depending on the size. Then, O’Leary asked about sales and Keefer said that year-to-date they were at $277,000 but they plan to be at $600,000 by the end of the year. The truck topper is 80% of Flated’s sales. Keefer also said Flated’s valuation was at $7 million, which turned Grenier off right away and she opted out of giving Flated a deal.
Mr. Wonderful wondered why they didn’t just manufacture the truck toppers since that was the product they sold the most of and disagreed with the valuation and said that he was out.
Cuban called the products “touch-to-trust” which means you physically need to see, feel and touch the products to know that they work, which could involve going to a lot of trade shows and he thought the spike in sales would take longer to reach, so he was out.
That left Robert Herjavec and Daymond John left.
“Robert was way into it, he thought it was super cool, but he thought that since we hadn’t left our jobs and weren’t doing this full time, which I am now, he decided that he was out,” Hoeve said.
All eyes were on Daymond John to see if he still wanted to nibble on this deal. He did offer $350,000 for a royalty of 8% per unit until $350,000 is paid, which then reduces to 5% in perpetuity.
As the trio from Flated countered and thought about the offer, all the other sharks chimed in and said that Flated should take the deal.
“Think how you’re going to feel if you walk out of here and don’t take his offer,” Grenier said. “If I were to give you a little advice, I think you could use him, I think he could really help you.”
“We basically did a perpetuity deal and we didn’t even do it with Kevin O’Leary, who, by the way, they didn’t air it in the episode, but at one point he was working a deal with us and I referred to him as ‘Mr. Perpetuity’ and all the other sharks got a laugh out of that,” Hoeve said.
Hoeve said there was so much more said that wasn’t included in the edited version. They complimented Keefer on her financial prowess and told Hoeve and Guay that they were lucky to have her on the Flated team. And right before they were supposed to record the segment, the Flated products didn’t look as inflated as they should.
“I had walked on to the set to check to make sure everything looked presentable and noticed that when the production crew had set our stuff up, they hadn’t closed the air valves, so the truck topper wasn’t ridged like it was supposed to be and I said, ‘Oh, man, we can’t do this right now,'” Hoeve said.
The producers were on a timeline and wanted to get the segment going but Hoeve scrambled to find the pump and one of the production assistants came to the set with it and Hoeve started pumping away.
“I’m working up a sweat pumping at a frenzied pace and Robert was about 2 feet away from me and I was out of breath, sweating and the producers are ready to go and I said, “just give me a minute to catch my breath,” Hoeve said.
There hasn’t been much time to catch a breath after Friday night’s episode.
“I’ve been monitoring my phone and our orders and it has been absolutely crazy. We had 15 million people tune in to “Shark Tank” and then about another five million who are watching it after the episode aired,” Hoeve said. “We’re excited to see what we can do with Daymond on board.”