We Switched To A Sales Mindset & Exploded To $4.5M In Revenue
Company name: Shark Wheel
Revenue: 350K/ Month
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi, my name is Zack Fleishman and I am the CEO at Shark Wheel. We have the world’s only wheel that is not your traditional 360-degree circular wheel.
Not only does our ‘square-shaped wheel look different, but it has been scientifically proven to outperform the traditional wheel in several categories. Our full Starter Story that we launched can be seen here.
We sell wheels for the following industries:
- Electric Skateboards
- Roller Skates
- Pallet Jacks
- Farming Equipment
- Kids Cars
- Flying Discs
Shark Wheel is transitioning from an R&D company to a sales company in 2023 after spending years figuring out how to make our sinusoidal wheels work well and be cost-competitive in each industry. Shark Wheel has had $4.5M in revenue from skateboard sales in the past 24 months.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
Shark Wheel is transitioning from an R&D company into a sales company. This means the majority of our time and efforts were historically spent in developing wheels for other industries and figuring out how to make a sine wave wheel perform well and stay within cost parameters for each application. Shark Wheel has several products that will commercialize in late 2022 and 2023. Some of these include an irrigation wheel (agriculture) that was funded by the National Science Foundation grant program, scooters for big-box retail outlets, kids’ electric cars, wagons, and more.
Shark Wheel has 3 large milestones in my opinion.
- Airing on Shark Wheel. Just being on the show gave us so much exposure and had many large companies contact us about making wheels for them.
- Developing a farming wheel that has shown best-in-industry performance in testing. Receiving these results showed that our technology can have major impacts on some of the largest industries in the world. This made me realize we had some truly massive. We knew that the Shark Wheel was based on Nature’s motions and should have inherent advantages. But, seeing the difference that sweeping soil right-left-right-left, as opposed to pressing in one spot solves all of the wheel issues in irrigation was jaw-dropping.
- NASA (in a sense) vouching for our technology. We applied for an SBIR Phase I NASA grant a few years ago to make the new planetary rover wheels. The Mars rover has a large amount of wheel damage due to its circular ‘steamroller’ shape. No dice! We even had a conference call with 10 ‘high ups’ at NASA to explain our position and strategy to create a sine wave wheel that would significantly outperform their current wheels.
We recently found out about NASA’s new moon rover and they came up with a complex, expensive version of sine wave movement to help the rover get over the rough terrain. Hmmm….Interesting timing a few years later! But, this is true validation from NASA that they chose sine wave movement for their new lunar rover. Wouldn’t it be much easier and cheaper just to use the Shark Wheel shape??? Check out the video here starting at the 32-second mark:
Shark Powered Kids Cars campaign just launched, check it out! The kid’s car reinvented to make your little one the coolest kid in the neighborhood!
America’s Real Deal
This is a fun one.
We just filmed a tv show for a week in Utah. It will be airing on FOX Business and streaming on Roku, Apple, and several other sites. Marie Osmond is the host and there are 3 ‘judges’, 2 of which are (extremely) high net worth individuals. The judges are not uber-famous, but they have stellar resumes and were a blast to work with. We made some great connections on the show and will be introducing an entirely new line of Shark Wheel products with one of the mentors on the show who will be designing the new line and helping to bring it to market. More details on that soon!
The show is expected to air starting in late July, it is supposed to air over 10 weeks (1 hour per week for 10 weeks) and it is tied to a fundraising campaign.
America’s Real Deal did a pilot episode that can be found online, but the format is now completely different with new hosts/judges/etc. Our airing is considered to be Season 1.
Shark Wheel will be in over 1,000 store locations (2 products – plastic skateboard and electric skateboard) beginning in August. Some products would have already shipped, but the new requirements for Walmart vendors to have RFID labels are creating a massive backlog. The RFID companies are suffering from chip shortages (same as the automobile industry and other industries) and the original companies set for our category’s labels now have 3-7 month waiting times. We have been able to scramble and get approval for other category labels and now we have less than a one month wait time. This may force some of our inventory to ship on fast boats, which costs more money. This eats slightly into our margins, but the good news is that we are on time and will deliver with labels when other companies may not.
We are already pitching our 2023 Walmart product line and we have some new products that we are pitching. Retail prices have already been submitted, then we have the first meeting in 2 weeks and the full 2023 pitch at the end of July. We have put in a lot of work on sourcing and bringing our costs down. That effort has paid off and our Walmart pricing for 2023 wheels has decreased by 23%. This is incredible for us and the formula is significantly better as well. We have also lowered the price on many other products we are pitching and the price of containers to ship has come down as well. (last 20-year average was around $3,000, ballooned up to $23,000 at its peak in 2021, and is now down to $11,000). We are also eligible for ‘direct import’ shipping through Walmart for next year as our store count increases – this means that Walmart would take control of the goods overseas and pay for shipping/tariffs, etc. Currently, we are forced to absorb those costs now.
Here is a picture of one of our SKUs going to Walmart this summer:
Shark Wheel China
Shark Wheel has just signed a deal with (likely) the largest skateboard distributor in China. They sold over 2 million skateboards in the last 2 years (during COVID there was a significant uptick in sales in China too). They are starting to place orders now and we expect to do good business with them. China is a large market and we have never been able to penetrate the market until now. Now that the deal is signed, we will look for other opportunities to bring our other products into China as well.
Wheels are out testing now. See our wheel testing right now in Kansas here:
We will start getting a lot more feedback soon, but the plan remains the same to start selling the wheels in September with a very early 2023 delivery. This means sales will not be technically recognized until 2023 (sales are counted when the product is shipped). We are also working on the next entry point into agriculture now – Sprayer Tractors.
Shark Wheels will be on a new Battlebots robot filming this summer and airing this fall. This is exciting and the robot’s name is Double Tap. Here is a sneak peek:
Marketing on Facebook has become more of a challenge with Apple’s opt-out numbers above 90%. We are unable to accurately track our conversions on Facebook/Instagram and it is forcing us to look into other marketing avenues (Apple must feel accomplished!). This has hurt numerous small businesses – the ability to track marketing performance is critical. We have focused on growing our social media and trying to convert customers into our Facebook and Instagram stores. These added efforts have tremendously increased our following and our engagement. We have noticed that any posts showing blue/seafoam/emerald colors tend to perform a lot better. Simple posts just holding our wheels perform incredibly well. We tested the same picture with red wheels and the same picture with seafoam and the same picture with transparent emerald wheels. Here are the results:
Red Wheels: 8k likes
Transparent Emerald Wheels: 18k likes
Seafoam Wheels: 19k likes
Just for fun…When you slide Shark Wheels, they leave “thane lines”:
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
Our biggest challenge this year has been transitioning from an R&D company to a sales company.
One major project has been a slow transition into a 3PL. After doing a deep analysis, it made sense for us to move into a 3PL for the majority of our shipping/warehousing needs. We will still keep our main headquarters and do some shipping from there, but as we grow it makes sense to scale using a 3PL. Our newly acquired direct-to-Walmart business forced our hand to make this decision. We are taking on the account directly for the first time in 2022 and need to service over 1,000 store locations with replenishment stock. Every week you are issued a purchase order to fulfill dozens of DC locations. We are slowly moving our eCommerce business there as well.
Put your business first. Take an outsider’s look at what is causing your business to struggle. I have always believed that pretending to be a coach is the best way to learn. So, if you were to coach your own business, what would you say?
In the past, a nice looking website worked well. Now, when the market is experiencing a downturn, we are having to focus on optimizing the site. This includes bringing down the number of clicks to reach checkout, moving to a 1-click checkout option, creating several different landing pages for each advertisement and other small changes that will pay off for the future.
Another change has been slowly replacing workers that were needed in the past with new workers as we shift to a sales-heavy company.
Running the business is constantly making changes, improvements and trying to design efficiencies within the company. It is never easy and always a struggle. Should I spend 2 hours of my time today not focused on sales and opportunities and instead focus on bringing in a new payment processor that will save $20k over the next year? Should I spend 2 hours on LinkedIn ‘going for home runs and trying to land large deals or should I spend time sending emails to existing distributors and ‘hitting singles’? These are the questions that we have to answer every day. At the end of the day, it feels that it is all about balance. Sometimes swinging for the fences, sometimes hitting singles and sometimes spending time just making the company more efficient.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
The biggest lesson that we have learned is the challenges of floating money for several months. We have taken significant loans for the first time while running our Walmart business. 4 months of production plus 4 months to get paid. That is 8 total months of ‘floating’ the money. We will get better at this in 2023, but working with big-box retailers directly presents new challenges.
Some of the good decisions we have made as a company in recent times is finding partners to help take loads off of us to focus on other things. For example, we signed an exclusive deal with a distributor in China and we signed an exclusive deal for a company to pre-buy and manage our Amazon account. We have also found ways to to market with no risk. We have Facebook/Instagram marketing where the company had to prove themselves with several weeks of running ads and making creatives for free – no payment unless we wanted to move forward. We also cut deals with SMS and email marketing companies to only get paid commissions on what they bring in. We love performance-based marketing contracts.
On a personal level, it has been a blast getting to watch my kids turn 2 and 5 a few weeks apart. I keep hearing how quickly kids grow up in the blink of an eye and one of mine is already Kindergarten bound soon. Can’t believe it!
One successful habit is my ability to set a goal and not let anything distract me from making it a reality. I stay up late nights most nights of the week working and communicating with China and work most weekends as well.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Our plan for the upcoming year (2023) is to be a sales-only company that is focused only on bringing money in from our past efforts. We will be extremely light on R&D and use the many products we are commercializing now to bring in cash flow.
We are very excited about our agriculture division. After 3+ years of R&D, computer testing, and field testing, we finally get to sell sell sell. And, we are already working on our 2nd agriculture application for sprayer tractors. Agriculture is the 2nd largest industry in the world to my understanding and we intend to make it the largest division of our company
Within 5 years, I see us selling the company. Ideally, I would like to keep working for the company, but I am very motivated to get our investors, friends, and family a nice payday! If you want to join the team, check out our upcoming Start Engine equity crowdfunding launch. We will be on the tv show America’s Real Deal too and traffic will be driven to our campaign.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
Peter Sage’s Ted Talk was my favorite video in recent memory. Just check it out!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Put your business first. Take an outsider’s look at what is causing your business to struggle. Are your employees putting in 50% effort? Are you not giving them the tools necessary to succeed? I have always believed that pretending to be a coach is the best way to learn. So, if you were to coach your own business, what would you say?
Running your own business is certainly not a 9-5 job (unfortunately). You need to set a realistic goal and do everything it takes to hit that goal. I was a pro athlete for many years and you need to have the same work ethic as a pro athlete to be successful in my opinion.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Shark Wheel is not currently hiring. We always love to bring on interns and 2 recent interns have turned into real positions within our company.
Where can we go to learn more?
Our Start Engine campaign is live now – StartEngine.com/SharkWheel