Oru Kayak paddles into the Shark Tank
The Oru Kayak faces its toughest challenge yet May 9th on ABC's "Shark Tank" - a TV show that offers entrepreneurs the chance to pitch wealthy investors ('Sharks') on startup businesses.
UC Berkeley School of Architecture grad Anton Willis dreamed up the Oru Kayak four years ago as a solution to fitting a boat into his small San Francisco apartment. Using the principals of origami, Willis created a lightweight yet robust kayak out of corrugated plastic, and designed it to fold from a 12' boat into an easily storable and portable case.
Already well known in the outdoor recreation community, the team at Oru Kayak jumped at the opportunity for national exposure and the chance to reel in a Shark as a business partner.
Ardy Sobhani, who co-founded Oru Kayak with Anton Willis, described the show as a risk worth taking, "We set out to change the way people experience and explore the outdoors, and Shark Tank enables us to take our vision to the widest possible audience."
Also appearing on Shark Tank was Roberto Gutierrez, Oru Kayak's Chief Commercial Officer. A former professional kayaker who often paddles among real sharks in the San Francisco Bay, Gutierrez would not reveal the outcome of the show, but joked that ABC's sharks may be the most daunting he has faced, "The investors bring so much business experience to the table, and they ask tough questions, so we knew we had to be prepared for anything."
Following a wildly successful launch on the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter in the Fall of 2012, Oru Kayak Inc grew rapidly – hiring a full time staff and scaling up production at their Southern California facility. Along the way the Oru Kayak has garnered glowing praise from the Wall Street Journal, Wired, and Outside Magazine, and won top honors at the world's largest outdoor trade show, ISPO Munich.