Stephan Aarstol, a Whatcom County native and Western Washington University alumnus, will be featured on an episode of the ABC entrepreneur reality show “Shark Tank,” airing at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 16.
Aarstol will be pitching his start-up company Tower Paddle Boards to a panel of investors including billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks; Daymond John, founder of urban clothing brand FUBU; Kevin O’Leary, an entrepreneur who sold his educational software company to Mattel for $3.7 billion; Barbara Corcoran, an investor who built a $5 billion real estate empire; and Robert Herjavec, an technology entrepreneur who sold his first company for more than $100 million.
Producers selected Aarstol from a pool of more than 24,000 applicants for the show’s third season. They noted his company’s direct-to-consumer online business model that brought visibility and market share to Tower among other better-known competitors.
“The web and search engines offer a near perfect meritocracy. I used a direct-to-consumer model to bring down costs and create a better value proposition for [stand-up paddleboard] consumers, then leveraged my online-marketing expertise to get the word out,” Aarstol said, in a March 1 press release. “To have received consideration from the producers of ‘Shark Tank,’ who review thousands of business submissions, is a huge honor in itself.”
Prior to starting Tower, Aarstol created an online poker chip company called BuyPokerChips.com. The company’s products have been featured on Spike TV.
He ran his businesses out of the historic Fairhaven Marketplace at 1200 Harris Ave., before moving both companies to San Diego in fall 2008. His parents, Patrick and Patricia, still live in Whatcom County on a 20-acre farm in Everson that’s been in the Aarstol family for nearly a century.
Tower Paddle Boards is online at www.towerpaddleboards.com.