A pair of Williamsburg natives pitched their invention on ABC’s Shark Tank Sunday night, and while they didn’t come away with a deal, they did get national attention for their products.
Glen Duff and Scott Parks are Williamsburg residents and co-founders of Zup Boards. Alongside Duff’s son-in-law Nick Kierpiec, they pitched their water sports boards before the sharks Sunday, and Duff said he was happy with how they performed.
The trio packed energy and enthusiasm into their appearance, with Parks and Kierpiec dragging Duff into the studio on one of their patented Zup Boards before making their pitch in front of a MasterCraft NXT20 boat.
“Ultimately our goal was to have a memorable episode,” Duff said. “That’s why we put the boat in there. That’s why they drug me down the hall and made an exciting entrance, so I think we achieved that.”
The pitch itself lasted about an hour, Duff said, but was edited down to roughly ten minutes for television.
Duff added that he was nervous while waiting his turn, but their practice paid off. Once the doors opened and the pitch began he felt everything flowed naturally.
“We had to practice it a lot and it came off even better than I expected,” Duff said. “You’ve got to be over the top excited because when it’s on TV it’ll feel like it’s toned down.”
Duff said Shark Tank’s producers were helpful in preparing them, and some members of the crew even expressed interest in buying Zup Boards.
The sharks asked Duff about the board’s handles, foot straps, knee pads and patents, and challenged whether or not the trio and their boards were disrupting the water sports and boating industries.
“I felt like, ‘Wow, I am so lucky to be standing here in front of these people I’ve watched on TV for years,’” Duff said. “Now I get to have a conversation with them. They seemed like normal human beings.”
Ultimately, none of the sharks decided to invest in Zup Boards.
Mark Cuban asked why their sales weren’t higher. Kevin O’Leary questioned their management of the company. Sara Blakely offered constructive criticism of their pitch. Daymond John said he didn’t feel he could even have a conversation with them.
“We felt like we might’ve been treated kind of harshly by the sharks, but we signed up for that and we’re okay with it,” Duff said.
Instead, Duff said he was thrilled that millions of people nationwide were able to learn about Zup Boards. Even if the sharks didn’t buy in, boaters across the county now are.
Traffic on their website is up more than 4,000 percent since appearing on Shark Tank, Duff said, and views on their Facebook page have increased by 400 percent. He said they’ve even been contacted by investors who saw the episode, and added he expects demand to outpace their supply of Zup Boards in the coming weeks.
“It was a dream, and we were able to pursue it,” Duff said. “Shark Tank is one of those things you can’t buy…if you don’t have something compelling and interesting, you don’t get on.”
Most importantly, Duff said his wife Diane told him he did well— and thanked him for not embarrassing her on national television.