FLATED

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FLATED Shark Tank Update

FLATED

Mark Furr

This post contains affiliate links, and we may be compensated if you buy something after clicking on our links.

FLATED hopes to make your weekend adventure trips easier with its line of durable, inflatable roof-top carriers, truck toppers, and other accessories which help to utilize all of the space in your vehicle while being easy to store when not in use. But, will the Sharks want to go an adventure with FLATED? Find out in our FLATED Shark Tank update. 

What is FLATED?

FLATED is a company that produces innovative, inflatable vehicle products, such are roof-top carriers and truck toppers, which make travel better. The company is located in Carlsbad, CA.

The company uses proven inflatable drop-stitch materials, combined with new design implementations, to make road-worthy outdoor adventure accessories for use with cars, trucks and SUVs. 

Who created FLATED?

FLATED Product

While three of FLATED’s co-founders, ​​​​​​​Ryan Guay, Monique Keefer, and Ken Hoeve, appeared on Shark Tank, Dan Watts, who did not appear on their episode, is the company’s fourth co-founder. All of the FLATED team are outdoor enthusiasts, and on the FLATED website, they claim: “Our team is known for working hard in order to play hard. Life is about adventure, travel, and fun, and all of our products are based off of gear that we personally use. From the Rocky Mountains to the coasts, we are always up for the next great invite to do something cool.”

Ryan Guay is CEO of FLATED, and he is both a former professional cyclist, and he has held VP positions at several outdoor brands. Ryan’s family was in the outdoor and ski business, and prior to co-founding FLATED, he worked in action sports, footwear, apparel, and accessories. Ryan still loves the outdoors and spends his freetime hunting, fishing, skiing, rafting and kayaking. 

Monique Keefer is the CFO of FLATED, and she is also the former CFO of Surftech. Monique has a great deal of experience in the sector, as she has been working on the financial side of the outdoor sports industry for more than15 years. 

Ken Hoeve is the Chief Marketing Officer of FLATED, and he has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 30 years. He has extensive contacts in the industry, and he has deep experience when it comes to authentic marketing campaigns using athletes, ambassadors, and affiliates to tell the brand story.

Dan Watts, who did not appear on Shark Tank, is the fourth co-founder and Chief Products Officer for FLATED. Dan has over 20 years of experience in product development, and he has received several design awards, and he holds a number of patents. 

How did FLATED get started?

During the Covid pandemic, in 2020, the four FLATED co-founders, all veterans of the Paddleboard and Outdoor industries, came together over an idea to use drop-stitch inflatable technology to create usable space on automobiles for adventure enthusiasts. 

They knew that the drop-stitch material was strong enough for products like inflatable stand-up paddleboards and kayaks, and they began to think about all of the other bulky outdoor products, which were made out of heavy, molded plastic, and take up lots of space. They believed that they could create a new category of lightweight, portable, but strong, adventure products for automobiles. 

Their first product, the FLATED Air-Topper, is the world’s first inflatable truck cap that can easily inflate and be installed in minutes, and it weighs less than 65 lbs. They also produced the FLATED Air-Carrier, which is the world’s first inflatable rooftop cargo carrier that can be mounted on almost all vehicles to carry luggage and gear for any road-trip adventure. 

What happened to FLATED before Shark Tank?

The four FLATED co-founders launched the business in 2021, and when their Shark Tank episode was filmed, the company had been trading for about a year. During their pitch in the Tank, company CFO Monique Keefer revealed to the Sharks that the four co-founders had each only contributed $200 to the startup, and this was to cover the state of California LLC tax.

Prior to the FLATED team’s pitch, the company had raised $500k from outside investors, and when their episode filmed, only one of the team members was working fulltime in the business. When they were in the Tank, the team told the Sharks that their year-to-date sales were $272k and because they had some hard purchase orders from a major retailer, they planned to hit $600k in sales for the full year. 

FLATED, while led by a team of founders very experienced in the outdoor industry, was still in its very early stages when they pitched to the Sharks. The company was still operating with most of its founders still working full-time jobs elsewhere, and their sales revenues were still low, especially considering that their primary product, the truck topper, had a price tag of $1800. It appeared that to make a real leap forward, the team could really use some help from a Shark. 

What do customers think of FLATED?

Flated Product

Since the company is still fairly new, and its primary product is a high-priced specialty item, we were not surprised that there were few online reviews. However, we did find 9 ratings on Google Reviews, with users giving the FLATED Truck Topper an average 3.9 out of 5 stars. Five Google users rated the product at 5 stars, 3 at 3 stars, and 1 user gave it only one star. 

What are customers saying about FLATED?

One happy camper on Google wrote, “The FLATED Air-Topper and Air-Deck are just what I was looking for. Portable, strong, easy to install, top-quality, all the boxes were checked!”

Another satisfied user said, “First off, super thick and rugged material specially adapted to do what it’s advertised for. I run a painting company and use it on my work truck, but it doubles for so many things like camping and storage. I absolutely love it. The only drawback is the back zip up flap has been notoriously hard for me to zip up, so I would suggest a better zipper with a better channel for the zipper teeth. That’s my only complaint about the whole thing.”

On the other hand, one extremely unhappy, and wet, camper wrote, “Feel like I got FLATED for sure, leaks water and leaks air. Manual pump also leaks air.”

With a full Amazon store now up and running, as well as more products being placed in REI, FLATED will likely see considerably more reviews online in the near future. 

When did FLATED appear on Shark Tank?

FLATED appeared on Shark Tank in Season 14, Episode 16, which aired on March 10th, 2023. The FLATED team pitched to regular Sharks Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Kevin O’Leary, Daymond John, and Robert Herjavec.

FLATED was not the only product for the adventure minded to pitch to the Sharks in Season 14, check out the story of the novel adventure product Surf Band Pro, which also sought help from an adventurous Shark during Season 14.

What happened to FLATED on Shark Tank?

Three of FLATED’s co-founders, ​​​​​​​Ryan Guay, Monique Keefer, and Ken Hoeve, entered the Tank and asked the Sharks for an investment of $350k for a 5% equity stake in their company. 

Pointing to a backpack in front of him, Ken Hoeve, began the pitch by asking the Sharks, “What if told you that this backpack has enough room that you can fit everything you need to quickly and easily transform your car, truck, or SUV for your next road-trip adventure?”

Monique then told the Sharks that traditional hard-top camper shells and rooftop carriers were great options to transport travel and camping gear, but she asked the Sharks, “What do you do with them when the trip is over, and you want your vehicle back to normal for everyday use?”

Next, Ryan introduced FLATED, the world’s first rigid, inflatable air carrier, air topper, and air deck. He explained that these products were the perfect way to maximize a vehicle’s potential while minimizing the storage space required when the gear was not in use. 

Ken then explained that FLATED products, though inflatable, were as durable as those made out of metal, plastic, or even fiberglass, but they were much lighter and could be installed without any tools. And, best of all, when not in use, they can be stored in a backpack. 

The Sharks were then invited to examine an inflated piece of the material used to make their products, and they informed the Sharks that the FLATED outdoor gear was made using drop-stitch technology, the same technology which had been successfully used to make inflatable paddleboards and kayaks. 

After answering a few questions from Robert Herjavec about the technology, Kevin O’Leary wanted to know what their patent covered if they were using existing technology, and he learned that the FLATED patent covered using drop-stitch inflatable technology to create usable space in vehicles. 

After talking about the patent, Ryan revealed that when the three co-founders were working for one of the premier paddle board companies, they saw the market for paddleboards move to 90% inflatable products, so they knew that this was a successful technology for outdoor sports. 

Kevin O’Leary joined the fray again to ask both the retail price and the cost to produce the products, and Ken told him that they sold the Topper, their number one seller, for $1800, and Monique added that the landed cost was around $740. They also discussed the price of the beds, which led O’Leary to ask if the Topper was the “el supremo” in sales. Monique disclosed that the Toppers accounted for 80% of their sales.

Mr. Wonderful appeared quite interested, and he continued the questioning by asking what a traditional, hardtop cover for his Ford F-150 would cost him, and Ryan informed him that he would pay around $3,500 for a traditional fiberglass topper. O’Leary seemed impressed that the FLATED product would save him almost 50% over the traditional model. 

Next, O’Leary wanted to know about the company’s year-to-date sales, and he was told that they were at $277k, but they projected $600k for the year, as they had several hard purchase orders from a major retailer.  O’Leary was on a mission, next asking, “Now riddle me this: why is this thing worth $7 million? 

Monique told Mr. Wonderful that the hard purchase orders were worth over $100k, but O’Leary responded, “So, you’re gonna make $50k on that, that doesn’t make it worth $7 million.”

Daymond John finally broke O’Leary’s question monopoly when he said, “Maybe there’s other things to ask.” Daymond then inquired whether the company had raised any capital, and he learned that they had raised $500k, and surprisingly, he also learned that the founders had only invested $200 each in the company and that only one of them was working in the company full time. 

After hearing about the amount of capital raised and the work status of the founders, the Shark who was probing the prey most aggressively, now looked ready to declare his intentions. 

Did FLATED get a deal on Shark Tank?

Yes, the FLATED team successfully negotiated a deal with Daymond John. Daymond agreed to invest $350k in return for a royalty of 8% of every unit sold until he recouped his investment, and then the royalty would reduce to 5% in perpetuity. The company gave up no equity in this deal. 

When it was apparent that the Sharks were ready to show their hands, Lori Greiner spoke up very quickly, and she said, “I don’t think you’re worth what you’re asking for, you haven’t hit it.” And with that, Lori was the first Shark to swim away. 

Mr. Wonderful, who had appeared very interested in the product, spoke next. He told the FLATED team, “You gotta be careful on Shark Tank that you don’t price yourself out of the market.” He first told the team that they should be focused on selling just the Topper since it represented 80% of their sales, and he also said that at present, he believed the company to be worth only $1 million, so he also went out. 

Mark Cuban explained to the FLATED crew that the challenge for this product was that is was a “touch to trust” item, so the company needed to be constantly on the road at outdoor shows, trade shows, anywhere that they could get the product in front of people, so he thought the process was going to take a long time to get any real traction. 

Robert was next up, and he said that he loved and he got it the minute that the team came into the Tank, but he agreed with Mark that this was a product that would just have to grind out the sales, one unit at a time. Since only one team member was working full-time in the business, Robert also felt that “You’re on the edge of a cliff and just don’t wanna jump in. In a grinding business, you have to jump off the cliff and go to work there every day.” He then asked the FLATED team, “What are you waiting for?”

Daymond was the last Shark swimming, and he commented that the other Sharks had brought up valid points, that there should have been more sales by now, but he really liked the product, so he made an offer of $350k for a royalty 8% of every unit sold until he recouped his money, and then the royalty would reduce to 5%.

After O’Leary and Mark Cuban expressed to the FLATED team that this was not a bad offer, especially since they were not giving up any equity, Ryan countered at 7% royalty, reducing to 4% once Daymond had recovered his $350k, but Daymond quickly rejected this offer. 

Monique was worried about the royalty because the company was already struggling a bit with cash flow to cover the purchase of new inventory, but Lori spoke up and told her, “But think how you’re going to feel if you walk out of here and don’t take his offer? Because if I could give you a little advice, I think you really could use him. I think he would really help you.”

After hearing Lori’s words, the co-founders held a short pow-wow, after which, Ryan turned to Daymond and said, “Let’s do this.”

FLATED Shark Tank update, what happened next?

While we have been unable to verify whether or not the deal between FLATED and Daymond John has closed, a month after the episode aired, FLATED co-founder Ryan Guay told Super Entrepreneur host Joe Pardo, “Daymond’s team is great. There’s lots going on there, but it’s all good. Everything’s positive.” But, he added, “That’s all I can say right now.”

According to the FLATED website, the company also achieved several successes in November 2023. First, they received three awards from an international panel of judges at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association trade show in Las Vegas. Also, at the SEMA Las Vegas trade show, they built and furnished their booth out of the drop-stitch FLATED material, essentially introducing an upcoming new product line: FLATED furniture. 

In the company’s release about the trade show, they also announced an all new cab-height Air-Topper, and they also launched their partnership with GMC in the same product reveal. FLATED said that their new white co-branded Chevy Air-Topper CAP would be on sale soon for a limited run.

With a licensing deal already in place with GMC, as well as a potential line of FLATED furniture on the horizon, it appears that there is still a lot of air left in this Shark Tank company. It will be interesting to discover whether or not the deal with Daymond has closed, and if so, if he was involved in the licensing effort. 

Author

  • Mark Furr

    Mark is a professional writer and editor currently living in Belize. He taught abroad at universities for many years, and he was also a Series Editor for Oxford University Press. After a career in education, he moved to Hawaii where he owned several businesses in the tourism industry. As a former business owner, Mark is interested in entrepreneurship and has always been a fan of Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den.