Clemson entrepreneurs hope to feed off ‘Shark Tank’ exposure
CLEMSON – Creating exposure for what you believe is the next best thing can be the difference between success and failure for an entrepreneur.
Clemson University College of Business management graduate Logan LaMance ’18 and his Tiger business partners are getting that coveted 15 minutes of fame they hope will lead to success. On April 7, they will pitch their business idea on “Shark Tank,” the ABC series that airs 10 p.m. Sundays.
They’ll attempt to convince the show’s panel of multimillionaires and billionaires to invest in their “kooler than a cooler” business idea that was borne of a College of Business class assignment.
The Kanga Kase Mate is a lightweight, insulated beverage cooler that provides an alternative to bulky ice chests. Its three-layer insulating system does for 12- and 24-packs of beer and soda, what a koozie does for an individual can.
“The Kase Mate is a light and inexpensive alternative to bulky and expensive coolers that are inconvenient to lug around,” said Logan, a Pickens native and CEO of Kanga. “The Kase Mate is the next generation of cooler that keeps the beverages cold in their original packaging for up to seven hours – all without the need for ice.”
Though Logan cannot divulge the outcome of the April 7 episode, he did say his team left Los Angeles, where their segment was recorded in September, feeling more confident about their startup than when they arrived for its taping.
“When you prepare for something like this you always want good answers for any question that’s thrown at you. We prepared well and had those answers ready. I think we communicated our excitement about The Kase Mate and it seemed to resonate with the panelists, so we left there with a very positive feeling,” he said.
Joining Logan in presenting the pitch were Teddy Giard, a Clemson marketing student who handles Kanga’s content and branding, and Austin Maxwell ’17, an engineering graduate who handles sales. Other members of the leadership team include Ryan Frazier ’17, a financial management graduate in charge of finance, and Kyle Self, a marketing student taking time away from school to manage the startup’s digital strategies.
Logan said Kanga began as an assignment in a College of Business entrepreneurial class, ELE-3140, taught by Chad Navis, associate professor and the Arthur M. Spiro Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership.
“The class requires students to propose business projects. Professor Navis gave us great counsel without holding our hands as we moved forward with our idea,” Logan said.
Like all good entrepreneurs, the Kanga team tapped various sources for funding and expertise in product development and distribution. A year ago, Kanga launched a Kickstarter campaign that generated about $35,000, which has been reinvested in inventory.
“We also received some great advice from Teddy’s father, Edward Giard Jr., who is a former consumer products executive. Like professor Navis, he’s been a great mentor and was our first investor. He’s shared a lot of his experience, which has helped us progress to where we are today.”
To date, Kanga has sold about 7,000 Kase Mates and has generated six-figure revenues, all of which has been reinvested. The Clemson team is currently working on product deals with Anheuser-Busch, Wicked Weed Brewing, Flying Dog Brewery, The Home Depot, several apparel brands and a casino in Illinois to market their product.
Regardless of whether the Shark Tank panelists invest in Kase Mate on the April 7 airing, the startup will get exposure from anywhere between 3 and 5 million viewers who watch the ABC series weekly. Logan said the Kanga Kase Mate team has begun preparing for what could result from that kind of exposure.
“The wheels are already turning on building our product inventory. We intend to use the exposure to move our operations out of my parents’ basement and open an office. Long-term, Kanga’s mission is to bring fun and convenience to beverage cooling solutions. We will launch other products in line with this mission, but right now our focus is on a product we believe fills a consumer niche.”
Service is a basic tenet instilled in anyone receiving a business degree from Clemson and Logan is already delivering on that obligation.
“I’ve stayed in touch with professor Navis and have spoken to the class where our business started. In addition to sharing our experiences up to this point, I try to inspire the students to think bigger picture. I tell them I was sitting in this very class, like them, with this crazy idea and just two years later we are realizing our dream.”