What Really Came Of Slyde Handboards – Bodysurfing Gear From Shark Tank?

Surfing is not for everybody — unless you're willing to devote hours upon hours learning how to balance on a board and catch a wave. For the more casual among us, a great alternative is bodysurfing, which lets you use your body to ride the waves and be one with the ocean. It's a sport that entrepreneur Steve Watts had thoroughly enjoyed growing up, which is why he started Slyde, a company that creates handboards to make it easier for body surfers — beginners and experts alike — to remain buoyant in water.

"I remember using frisbees, flip-flops — anything we could find. One of the favorites was a fast food tray. We quickly evolved from random objects to tearing open our old surfboards and refined the shape," he told Shopify of the early days of Slyde. "At the time, there was no brand associated with this, even though a lot of kids were doing it. That's when I decided to start a brand and product that a new generation could associate with."

The company released its first handboard in 2011, earning an impressive $20,000 in revenue. But Watts, his surfing-student-turned-business-partner Russell Ellers, and then-girlfriend Angela Ferendo (who joined the company in 2013) had loftier dreams. They had heard about "Shark Tank" and applied twice, but it wasn't until their third try that they got on the show. Luckily, their efforts paid off when they clinched a deal with not just one, but two Sharks!

Slyde founders scored the investments of two Sharks

Steve Watts and Angela Ferendo entered the "Shark Tank" arena hoping to take home a $200,000 investment in exchange for a 15% stake in Slyde. The pair pitched their product with confidence, impressing the sharks with their know-how. It helped that they knew their numbers by heart, too.

They explained that Slyde had two versions, and that they were on track for $295,000 in sales. They also shared that they invested most of the money for their wedding because of their commitment to the company. Lori Greiner and Kevin O'Leary were unconvinced and tapped out, but guest Shark Ashton Kutcher, who admitted to knowing next to nothing about surfing, found Slyde fascinating and asked Mark Cuban to partner with him for a deal. Their joint offer of $200,000 in exchange for 25% of the company enticed the couple, while Robert Hervajec spiced things up with an offer of $200,000 for 15%. But the investor duo, particularly Cuban, had an edge thanks to Cuban's track record of growing the recreational board brand Tower Paddle Boards.

Initially hesitant to relinquish more than 20% of their business, the pair reconsidered when Kutcher and Cuban went down to a 22% stake, ultimately sealing the deal. As luck would have it, the Slyde founders revealed that they wanted both of those Sharks to invest in them from the get-go, making the deal a win-win for all.

Slyde continues to make a splash in the water sports industry

The impact of their "Shark Tank" appearance on the Slyde venture was massive. For starters, the founders were finally able to pay themselves. "We are now able to take our first paychecks. We're not struggling any more," Angela Ferendo told The Orange Country Register. "Our lives have changed since the show; it's pretty awesome." In an interview with Inc., Steve Watts dished that Ashton Kutcher and Mark Cuban's guidance proved to be invaluable, as they steered the business in the right direction for further expansion. "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 that kind of infrastructure and contact with them both has beyond what our team ever expected," he said, adding that after their episode aired, Slyde had enjoyed a whopping 300% in growth.

Speaking with Starter Story, Watts also detailed that Slyde's reach has consistently been growing. "We have now sold boards to over 40 countries and growing every month. We have 500k visitors a year to our website. We just got our first order from Dicks Sporting Goods this month," he said. They have also expanded their offerings as well, and now sell fins, coil leashes, and board bags. But per Watts, there's still a lot in store for Slyde. "We look forward to year after year growth," he told FS Local. "We want Slyde to be a global brand in the surf industry."