Paper Box Pilots Before Shark Tank
It’s the holiday season, and all across the country, parents hand over gifts to excited children, but as is usually the case, the recipients of those expensive presents usually find the box far more entertaining within a matter of hours. As all parents know, it’s a common situation during the festive period, but with Paper Box Pilots, it can be an even more entertaining one now, with a way to make any old box a gift in itself.
Brian Cahoon was very familiar with the attraction of large boxes to young children, he had frequently spent time with his son Noah when he was younger, producing designs to turn boxes into ships, cars, planes, or anything else that he could think of. A few years later Noah, now thirteen, remembered what a great time he had with the boxes that his dad had designed, and he made some customized boxes himself, for the benefit of his little brother Milo.
Milo reacted in the same way as all small children, and loved running around inside a box decked out to look like a plane, and that was when Noah had his moment of inspiration. He wondered how many other parents would be prepared to buy stickers that could be placed onto any box, to create an exciting toy for young children – without any batteries ever being required.
He spoke to his dad about the idea, and Brian, who had an entrepreneurial streak of his own, was more than happy to support his sons fledgling business idea. He supplied Noah with a small business loan to get him started and the Paper Box Pilots business was born.
Paper Box Pilots on Shark Tank
When Brian and Noah came into the tank they were hoping to attract a shark to invest $35,000 into their business, they also brought along another board member, five-year old younger brother Milo, who, Brian explained, was the ‘CFO’ of the company, The Chief Fun Officer.
Brian and Noah told the story behind the Paper Box Pilot business, the first boxes Brian had made for young Noah, and Noah’s own efforts for his younger brother. They told the sharks about the amazing attraction that a simple cardboard box could have for all young kids, and the sharks nodded in agreement.
The CFO of the company carried out his role enthusiastically, as he modelled the plane model for the benefit of his audience. Some of the sharks appeared to be melting a little, overwhelmed by the waves of cuteness. Perhaps Noah and Brian noticed a flicker of jealousy in Robert Herjavec’s eye, as they offered him his own box, a racing car, and he eagerly agreed to try it out for himself. After the slightly surreal sight of Robert Herjavec running in circles with a box around his waist had passed, it was chocks away for Milo, busy with his CFO duties he flew out of the tank.
Kevin O’Leary is the shark most suited to the children’s toy industry, the Canadian born businessman originally made his fortune with the sale of The Learning Company, to Mattel in 1999. He had grown the educational software, and family entertainment company into a global brand, and he understands the market for children’s products better than any of his fellow sharks. He was interested in the concept of the product, but he thought it would be better if sold with a plain box to put the stickers on.
Barbara Corcoran inquired about the price and cost of the stickers. Noah answered confidently and in detail, the sharks were impressed with the well-prepared young entrepreneur. Mark Cuban asked about sales, and although the total figure of $7,500 was quite low, the product was very cheap to buy, and required bulk sales to make a decent profit. The business had been launched only eight months ago and Noah pitched it as a solid set-up, growing steadily. The sharks were impressed with his explanation and not put off by previously low sales, this business had potential for huge growth, but only if the market was large enough.
There were more questions from the sharks about sales channels, Noah explained that the stickers were sold in 23 retail outlets, mainly independent toy stores, and there were equal sales online. Barbara Corcoran quizzed Brian about the extent of his involvement in the business. Brian asserted that although he supported Noah fully in his business activities, he left all decisions concerning the future of the company to him alone.
Brian detailed his own ambition to run a business, when he was younger, but the birth of Noah had forced him to take a less risky path, to ensure the best possible upbringing for his son. He had brought Noah up to believe that life was not restricted to one path, he didn’t have to follow a corporate ladder, and he was always encouraged to follow his entrepreneurial ideas.
Kevin repeated his interest in the business, and his belief that a box should be sold with the stickers, he then announced he was prepared to make an offer. He proposed an investment of $35,000, in exchange for a fifty-fifty partnership in the business. He also cautioned Noah that he would have to leave school, to the amusement of the other sharks. Noah didn’t look 100% sure that Kevin was joking and pointed out he was only in the eighth grade. ‘So you miss a few grades’ replied Kevin.
Noah looked pleased to have at least one offer on the table, he thanked Kevin graciously, and inquired if any of the other sharks were prepared to invest in his company.
Mark Cuban congratulated Noah on the offer he had received, and called Kevin’s propsal ‘fair’. He didn’t believe he could add as much value to the business as Kevin and with that he was out.
Lori Greiner loved what Noah had achieved so far, particularly the simplicity of the idea, but she didn’t believe the business would be easily scalable. She told Noah to call her in several years to come and work for her, but regretfully she was out too.
Robert Herjavec still seemed hyped from his earlier enjoyment of the cardboard box with car stickers on it, and he told Noah he would match Kevin’s offer, the requested $35,000 in exchange for an equal share in the business. Kevin O’Leary jumped in quickly, detailing his history with Mattel, and the $4 billion deal he struck with them. He stressed his experience in the field, and told Noah the business could pay for his college fees, if he chose Kevin as a partner.
Barbara broke the tension between Robert and Kevin, by putting another option to Noah. She offered $35,000 in exchange for 35% equity, a better deal than the others, and conditional on Noah making Paper Box Pilots stickers appeal to girls too, as well as boys.
This time Robert was quick to jump in, he improved his offer to a $50,000 investment in exchange for 50% equity. ‘The math is the same’ he pointed out, and then claimed, somewhat surprisingly, that he was ‘The Fun Shark’, and the ideal partner for a fun product. I’ve never heard Robert Herjavec called ‘The Fun Shark’ before or since, and Kevin certainly wasn’t going to let Robert’s dubious self-promotion go unchallenged, he asserted that he would add the most value to the company and told Noah it was time to make up his mind.
Noah was slightly overwhelmed from the experience of having three sharks fight it out for a deal with him, he had a quick whispered conversation with his dad. Brian told him to make up his own mind, and choose the mentor he felt was best for the business, Noah didn’t take too long to decide and announced that he would be happy to accept Kevin’s deal.
Kevin was delighted at Noah’s decision, Barbara was considerably less pleased ‘Unbelievable’ she exclaimed.
Paper Box Pilots Now In 2024 – The After Shark Tank Update
The deal with Kevin was finalized and with his infusion of cash, they were able to take the company further. They also took Barbara’s advice to heart and began selling more girly stickers so that the product would cater to all genders. This proved to be a success as sales soon went up.
Being on the show helped as well. Within a few weeks, sales had increased tenfold. The company also added new sets of stickers, including ones with racing cars and ones with firetrucks, the latter of which featured a young girl using the box. Not only that but they also started selling a “Shark Tank Special” package, which consisted of a variety of stickers and was priced at $20.
They also began selling the stickers on Amazon, where many agreed that it’s a fun activity for kids. If anything, they loved decorating and playing with the boxes. Still, not everyone was happy with the product. For one thing, many felt that it should have come with its own cardboard box (the company urged customers to reuse old boxes instead). Others felt that it was overpriced for what it was seeing as it only consisted of two pages of stickers. Overall, the product had a 3.7-star rating on Amazon, which isn’t too bad but isn’t that great either.
In the end, the product only lasted for a few years. The business was eventually shut down, though the product listing can still be found on Amazon (along with its reviews). Would they have lasted longer if they sold their own boxes for the stickers? Possibly. From the looks of it, it seemed to have been one of their major criticisms. Despite that, they never did anything about it; it seemed as if recycling was more important than increasing sales, which they likely would have achieved if they sold their own boxes.
What’s Noah up to nowadays? For starters, he’s now in his twenties (he was thirteen back in 2014). The last that we checked, he was a college student at Brigham Young University and will be graduating in 2024. He also does freelance photography and enjoys snowboarding and soccer in his spare time, according to his Instagram.
Will we be seeing the entrepreneur again anytime soon? Maybe. For all we know, he might decide to start a new company after finishing college. For now, however, it looks like he’s focusing on his studies.