Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Budding Business’ Online Store Survives Shark Tank During Primetime TV Appearance

Tower Paddle Boards, an online store based in San Diego, CA, powered by Volusion’s eCommerce platform, was recently featured on ABC’s primetime TV show, Shark Tank, landing a partnership with billionaire entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban.

Tower’s growing online business specializes in selling stand-up paddle boards (SUPs) to customers around the globe. Selling direct allows Tower to sell a $1200 retail SUP for under $700.

Less than a year after starting their online store, sales had taken off and Tower was selected to be on ABC's primetime TV show, Shark Tank, to pitch to a renowned panel of investors. The show filmed in July of 2011, and billionaire Mark Cuban offered to invest $150,000 for a 30 percent stake in Tower Paddle Boards. Cuban also negotiated for a first right of refusal to invest in any business that Aarstol raised money for in the future (this was a first for the show). That deal closed in November of 2011, and Aarstol had to keep the deal a secret for nine months as the show didn't air until March 16, 2012 to over 6 million people.

Volusion helped Tower prepare for the onslaught of traffic. For the show, Tower upgraded to one semi-dedicated server plus another dedicated server with load balancing between the two, and also installed a splash page upfront to ease the burden on the database.

"Getting airtime on a #1 hit show like Shark Tank is notorious for crashing Websites. Tower Paddle Board's site withstood the rush just fine.” noted Cuban.

Tower did more business in the 72 hours following the show than they did in the first six months in business. Within weeks of the show airing, Aarstol wrote Mark Cuban his first dividend check for $50,000 (a 33 percent return on his investment in 120 days from funding). Overall, Tower's business has tripled in the last year, and in 2012, they're on pace to reach $1.5 million in sales.

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