Thursday, July 18, 2024

Williamsburg residents to swim with the sharks on ABC Sunday

SHARK TANK - ÒEpisode 911Ó - An entrepreneur from Brookline, Massachusetts, empowers women to create a community that prioritizes living well, working hard and encouraging women to build businesses of their own with her idea; a trio of entrepreneurs from Williamsburg, Virginia, pitch the sharks a fresh, new way to ease people into water sports with their all-in-one invention; a registered nurse turned entrepreneur from Carlsbad, California, helps breastfeeding moms find a healthy and convenient way to increase their milk supply with her delicious food item; a panda-loving entrepreneur from Burbank, California, hopes to make panda lovers out of the Sharks when she presents her animal-themed pet apparel company, on ÒShark Tank,Ó SUNDAY, JAN. 14 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) NICK KIERPIEC, GLEN DUFF, SCOTT PARKS (ZUP)
Entrepreneurs from Williamsburg will pitch their water-sport invention on Shark Tank on Sunday, Jan. 14 on ABC. (Photo Courtesy ABC/Eric McCandless)

Two local entrepreneurs will be asking America “whatZUP” on national television Sunday night.

Williamsburg’s Glen Duff and Scott Parks, co-founders of Zup Boards, recently pitched their product before a school of sharks on ABC’s show Shark Tank.

The episode will air Sunday at 9 p.m.

Zup Boards are modified water boards designed by Duff, Parks and Duff’s son-in-law, Nick Kierpiec, who lives in South Carolina. They’re designed as alternatives to wakeboards, water skis and inner tubes, Duff said in an interview. The boards are more accessible to children, beginners and the disabled than traditional water sports equipment, according to Duff.

Zup Boards include footholds and a patented handle that make them easier for novices to use, and Duff said they also allow experts to do tricks they wouldn’t be able to pull off on other products.

“[The design] ended up not just solving the problem, it changed the ability to do more things on the water than the other products were allowing,” Duff said. “Usually you have to buy one product for one thing.”

Parks and Duff served as Student Ministry leaders at Williamsburg Community Chapel, and honed their designs while taking children out on the James River.

Duff said he was contacted by Shark Tank producers more than a year ago and auditioned.

“Every step of the way, they said ‘no guarantees you’ll be on,’” Duff said. “We were very cautiously optimistic.”

While he waited for the network to bite, he practiced his pitch before a group of local investors at the Virginia Shark Tank in the Stryker Center last April.

Days after the Virginia Shark Tank, Duff got a call from a woman who told him she was from Shark Tank.

Figuring she was an investor who saw his pitch, Duff asked her how she thought he did at the Virginia Shark Tank. She replied, “I don’t know what that is.”

It was then Duff realized he was being asked to film an episode of the show.

Local entrepreneurs pitch shark tank
Nick Kierpiec, Glen Duff and Scott Parks are the team behind Zup. (Photo courtesy ABC/Eric McCandless)

The trio actually went in front of the sharks in June. Duff said he was nervous all week leading up to filming, but his nerves calmed down the second the pitch began.

“It’s going to be what it’s going to be, so let’s go have some fun,” Duff said.

Duff couldn’t reveal any spoilers, but he is excited to tune in on Sunday. He and his wife will be watching with Kierpiec in South Carolina. Many of his friends will be at a viewing party here in Williamsburg.

He also credited his wife Diane for having the idea to buy a boat in the first place, as a way to spend more time with their four daughters.

For Duff, being on the show was the culmination of a dream to make boating a more inclusive and positive experience for the whole family.

“Constantly wanting to do something, and doing everything you can to work toward that goal—it was fulfillment,” Duff said.

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