Rachel Zietz spent a lot of time practicing with a lacrosse rebounder. She's a girl who loves her sport and wants to be the best she can be. Unfortunately, when practicing lacrosse, you need a way for someone or something to “throw” the ball back to you. If a teammate isn't available, you use a lacrosse rebounder – a rigid net that bounces the ball back to you so you can catch it. Rachel spent so much time practicing, she kept breaking her rebounders. She got so frustrated with how cheaply made they were, she made her own, and in the process made a business with over $1 million in sales. She pitches her version of the lacrosse rebounder when she introduces Gladiator Lacrosse to the Sharks in episode 722.
She started the business when she was 13 with the goal of selling higher-quality, lower-cost equipment than her competitors. With some help from her dad, founder of software company TouchSuite and an entrepreneur in his own right. She has regular contact with a Chinese factory that makes the product for her and dad helped her overcome her fear and hone her sales skills. When she set her goal of selling 500 units, she blew it out of the water: she's selling 500 units per month!
She plays on three teams while juggling school and her business. When she reached the million dollar sales mark, Florida governor Rick Scott awarded her the Florida’s Young Entrepreneur Award. Gladiator lacrosse originally began making just the lacrosse rebounder, but now it's expanded to making goals and practice targets. Her success gave her the confidence to approach professional lacrosse player Casey Powell and now he has a “signature line” in the Gladiator family.
Rachel knows what she's doing, but she probably wants a Shark to help get her into national chains and offer some mentor-ship (and cash).
My Take on the Lacrosse Rebounder
I'm a baseball guy and I've loved the game all my life. We used to joke that kids who played lacrosse (a spring sport) were the kids who sucked at baseball. When I was a kid, I used a product similar to Gladiator's rebounder. It was called a “pitch back.” It was a rigid net with a strike zone target. When there was nobody around to play catch with, I'd spend hours playing catch with my pitch back.
Lacrosse wasn't such a big thing for me until I got to college and watched the UMASS team regularly challenge for the national championship. Now, lacrosse is huge. Today's generation of kids prefers running around in pseudo body armor, whacking each other with lacrosse sticks to the slow pace of baseball. It's a huge market and Rachel has a good product. Her story is pretty cool, too. How many 15-year-olds run million dollar companies? I like her spirit, drive, and competitiveness and I told my 11-year-old daughter about her. She's a great model to kids – especially girls – everywhere. For that reason, I am IN!
Will Sharks Play Lacrosse?
Rachel is bound to impress the Sharks. Her sales alone put her well above many entrepreneurs in the Tank three times her age. The only thing I see hurting her is the Sharks may feel she doesn't need them, and they wouldn't be wrong.
Rachel obviously has strong support from her family and she's proven she has the smarts and drive to succeed. A lot of times when a kid that young and that successful enters the Tank, the Sharks will encourage her to stick it out and continue along as she's been doing.
While she may or may not field an offer, I think she leaves with no deal, for all the right reasons!