At age 11, Locker Board founder Carson Kropfl faced the “Sharks” in the season 9 premiere of ABC’s hit business reality show Shark Tank and struck a deal for his innovative skateboard company. The show’s celebrity investors heard the young entrepreneur’s pitch and fought to partner with Locker Board, the first non-folding, compact and sustainable skateboard designed to fit in a locker or backpack.
Now 12 years old, Locker Board founder Carson Kropfl of Orange County, California, impressed the group of “Sharks” with a skate demonstration on his portable skateboard alongside his skater friend Sierra Downer. Carson, who was joined by his mother Carrie Kropfl during his pitch, went in asking for $60,000 for 15 percent equity, and ended up accepting $65,000 for a 20 percent stake. Sir Richard Branson, business magnate, investor, philanthropist and founder of the Virgin Group, outbid Mark Cuban, billionaire businessman and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, as well as Robert Herjavec, tech entrepreneur and investor, for the opportunity to invest in Locker Board. Branson told Carson that the reason he invested in the 7th grader was because he reminded him of himself.
“Having started a business at a very young age myself, I was excited to see Carson walk through the Shark Tank doors and pitch his business,” said Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group. “Carson’s passion for Locker Board was clear from the start, and I especially love that he is recycling old skateboards and refurbishing them to solve the problem of not being able to fit their boards into their lockers. I look forward to watching Carson and Locker Board continue to ‘shred hard and dream hard!’”
Locker Board’s sustainability-driven business model emphasizes upcycling and reuse of old boards, effectively reducing the volume of manufactured waste destined for local landfills. Locker Board’s unique 17-inch boards are refinished top to bottom from recycled decks donated through the company’s local skate shop retailer network and from new but slightly blemished boards manufacturers decide not to sell. In celebration of his deal with Sir Richard Branson, Carson created a board with British Invasion Travel Cruiser mini-skateboard, inspired by his experience on Shark Tank.
“Being on Shark Tank was an incredible experience and I wish every kid with a dream could have an opportunity to share their ideas like I did,” said Carson. “My mom, dad and business mentors are the reason I’m able to bring my ideas to life.”
At first, Carson personally designed and built every Locker Board skateboard by hand in his backyard workshop in San Clemente. Today, to keep up with increasingly high demand, the company uses renowned board maker PS Stix Skateboard Manufacturing to handle production. Locker Board has also brought on Wing Lam, Co-Founder of Orange County-based Wahoo’s Fish Taco, as a business adviser.
Carson’s interest in creating sustainable boards grew during a visit to Nike World Headquarters in March 2017 with the Independent Youth Organization (IYO). IYO is a non-profit organization through which Carson educates other young people about starting a business. While at Nike, Carson met Noah Murphy-Reinhertz, a sustainability expert with Nike’s Sustainable Innovation Team. After the tour, Noah began mentoring Carson on how to research and develop sustainable products.
Carson’s love of skating and commitment to helping others converge in his ongoing financial support of the Tony Hawk Foundation, which develops public skateboard parks in low-income communities across the country.