First Deaf Entrepreneur in Shark Tank History Appears on Show, Secures a Deal
NEW YORK, OCT. 27, 2019 – Colorado family-owned and operated business Tailgate N Go secured a deal with Recurring Shark Matt Higgins, cofounder and CEO of private investment firm RSE Ventures, Sunday night on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
Tailgate N Go began with an unorganized camping trip in Colorado. After Ron Johnson and his daughter Taylor (27) and son Kobe (18) unpacked their cluttered totes, the family realized they had forgotten a spatula, salt and oil – the essentials for burgers. With a cluttered picnic table and no other surface to prepare food on, the family realized they needed a better way – so they decided to create a fully equipped dry box that could store all camping essentials and act as a full kitchen.
Nine prototypes and a year and half of weekend tradeshows later, the Johnsons now have the best portable outdoor kitchen and dry box on the market – so good that it captured the attention of “Shark Tank” and secured a deal with Recurring Shark Matt Higgins.
“Once we found out Matt Higgins was the guest shark, we knew he was our target. Matt’s background in sports and his business experience made him our obvious choice,” Taylor said.
Higgins, who is also vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins, initially said he was “out” on the Tailgate N Go, but after the family made him a counter offer, he jumped back “in” to offer the Johnsons a $250,000 investment for a 20% stake in the business, with a $50 per-unit royalty.
“The Tailgate N Go is the most elaborate outdoor kitchen and dry box you’ve ever dreamed that has all your tailgating and camping needs covered,” Higgins said. “A grill, a griddle, a burner, a sink, a dry box, a cutting board and more all at once. I can’t wait to work with this amazing family and my sports network to make some magic!”
Kobe, who recently graduated from high school, aspires to launch a company to improve technology for the Deaf. He is the first deaf entrepreneur to appear on “Shark Tank.”
“When we’re done changing the outdoors world with Tailgate N Go in the future, I also want to change the Deaf world, starting with the old technology for the Deaf,” Kobe said. “I want to start a new business that will modernize the Deaf world! Shark Tank is just the beginning!”
Higgins has been on “Shark Tank” since Season 10, when he invested in the Cup Board Pro, the product of late New York firefighter and chef Keith Young.
About Tailgate N Go
Tailgate N Go is a family-owned and operated business based in Grand Junction, Colorado. After an unorganized family camping trip, Ron Johnson and his children Kobe and Taylor decided there had to be a better way. So they created Tailgate N Go – a customizable portable outdoor kitchen and dry box that is fully equipped to store all the camping essentials, allowing you to cook, prep, store and more during tailgates and camping trips – all from a single box.
Learn more at tailgatengo.com
ABOUT “SHARK TANK”
The recipient of the 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 Emmy Award for Outstanding Structured Reality Program, “Shark Tank” features The Sharks – tough, self-made, multimillionaire and billionaire tycoons – as they invest in America’s best businesses and products. The Sharks will give people from all walks of life the chance to chase the American dream, and potentially secure business deals that could make them millionaires. Mark Burnett, Clay Newbill, Yun Lingner, Max Swedlow and Phil Gurin are the executive producers of “Shark Tank,” which is based on the Japanese “Dragons’ Den” format, created by Nippon Television Network Corporation. The series is produced by MGM Television in association with Sony Pictures Television.
Contact: Heather Harder
Matt Higgins, the co-founder and CEO of RSE Ventures—a VaynerMedia investor and Gary Vaynerchuk’s first client—is returning to “Shark Tank” for its 11th season. He’s the only guest judge to return to the show from the previous season, when he made his first appearance alongside retired NBA player Charles Barkley and “Shark Tank” entrepreneur Jamie Siminoff, who failed to win over the Sharks with his Wi-Fi-enabled video doorbell company Ring in 2013 (joke’s on them because Amazon eventually acquired the startup).
Higgins is truly a self-made mogul. A high-school dropout at age 16, Higgins grew up in poverty in Queens, New York, received his GED, entered college early to “claw my way out,” he says, and began his career as a journalist managing the “Action Desk” column for the Queens Tribune. He co-founded RSE Ventures, which invests in media and marketing enterprises, in 2012. “‘Shark Tank’ reminds us that no matter what dire circumstances you were born into in this great country, if you have an amazing idea, and the fire to pursue it, you can do anything,” Higgins says.
Anyone who gets to appear as a guest judge on “Shark Tank” has made it pretty big, from Major League Baseball star-turned-investor Alex Rodriguez to Bethenny Frankel of “Real Housewives of New York City.” Even Ring founder Jamie Siminoff, who appeared as a contestant in 2013 (he later sold the company to Amazon for $1 billion), returned to the show as a judge.
Sunday’s guest judge, Matt Higgins, is no exception. Higgins is the CEO and co-founder of private investment firm RSE Ventures with real estate mogul and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross, who is worth $7.7 billion according to Forbes. The firm invests in buzzy companies across sports (like the Drone Racing League), entertainment (like NextVR), media (like Gary Vaynerchuk’s VaynerMedia) and food and lifestyle (like Momofuku and Bluestone Lane).
Two weeks ago Shark Tank unveiled a new guest shark this season—one unfamiliar to the audience who likely recognized former Shark Tankentrepreneur Jamie Siminoff and NBA star Charles Barkley. Matt Higgins, the vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins and founder and CEO of RSE Ventures, an investment firm that invests in and incubates companies. Matt made a splash on his first episode, investing $1.5 million in Beyond Sushi alongside fellow shark Lori Greiner and contributing to the all-shark deal on the Cup Board Pro, the cutting board with an emotional backstory.
There’s never been a Shark Tank product quite like Cup Board Pro.
The inventor of the bamboo cutting board, a former New York City firefighter who died in March from a rare form of cancer related to his 9/11 cleanup efforts, didn’t live to see his product make it on air. On Sunday’s episode, Young’s children Kiera, Christian, and Kaley pitched their late father’s invention and scored a $100,000 investment–split evenly between all five Sharks–for 20 percent of the company. The Sharks pledged to invest any profits from the business to a charity benefiting firefighters suffering from illnesses related to the 9/11 cleanup.
The 10th season of ABC’s hit show Shark Tank premiered this month, with the entrepreneurial-themed reality show airing its 200th episode since it launched in 2009. The current season has a heavy sports influence: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been a fixture as a “shark” since Season 2, and Charles Barkley and Alex Rodriguez are appearing as guest sharks.
While Barkley and Rodriguez have the name recognition as all-time great players in the NBA and MLB, another guest shark is a much bigger tycoon in the sports world. Matt Higgins, the CEO of private investment firm RSE and vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins, sees more than 100 deals come across his desk every month. He makes his debut tonight as a guest shark after years of cutting deals in the sports, entertainment and food industries. He’ll make a second appearance later this season.
“The show is what I do in my day job. [RSE] supplies whatever entrepreneurs need to go the rest of the distance, whether that is capital or real estate advice or a stadium to put your drone race in,” says Higgins, who invested $1 million in 2015 for the first round of funding for the Drone Racing League and then provided the venue for the first race with the Dolphins’ home. RSE bills itself as a “one-stop shop for entrepreneurs.”
This fall, Matt Higgins will temporarily make the transition from working with a team of Dolphins to competing with a school of sharks.
Higgins, the current vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins, will appear as a guest “shark” investor on two episodes of the hit television show Shark Tank, which celebrates its tenth season this year. The first of the two episodes airs Sunday, October 21 at 9 p.m. ET.
Shark Tank allows a select bunch of fledgling entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to a panel of sharks—established businessmen and women with the capital and the expertise to help the entrepreneurs succeed—that is, if the sharks like what they hear during the pitch.
ABC’s critically-acclaimed and award-winning reality show Shark Tank today announced the addition of three brand-new Guest Sharks including Charles Barkley, Matt Higgins and, for the first time, former Shark Tank entrepreneur-turned-Shark, Jamie Siminoff. After his debut in the tank in 2013, Siminoff went on to sell his invention, Ring, to Amazon for over a billion dollars.
Matt Higgins, vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins, has watched almost every episode of “Shark Tank.”
So when Higgins had an opportunity to appear in upcoming episodes of the show, he leaped at the opportunity.