Taylor Johnson, a 27-year-old Colorado Mesa University (CMU) alumna, answers hundreds of phone calls for her family’s business everyday. She posts on social media, interacts with customers online and travels wherever her job takes her. One might say she has a dream job; the kind of job that any Mass Communication or Business major goes to school to pursue.
Taylor and her family’s entrepreneurial successes have led them to the development of a unique product, the growth of a family business and most notably an appearance on Shark Tank.
Shark Tank is a TV show that showcases millionaire and billionaire tycoons as they invest in in products they believe could be the next big thing.
The Johnson family went on Shark Tank on Oct. 27 to showcase their invention: Tailgate N Go. It’s a portable outdoor kitchen and dry box that’s designed for camping, tailgating, traveling and any kind of outdoor adventure.
The family, consisting of Ron Johnson (54 years old), his daughter Taylor and son Kobe (18 years old), went through nine prototypes of their design. Kobe is the first deaf entrepreneur to appear on Shark Tank.
After a nerve wracking exchange with the sharks who all initially turned them down, they closed a counter offer from Matt Higgins, the Miami Dolphins Vice Chairman and RSE Ventures co-founder and CEO. The deal, which was $250,000 for a 20% stake in the company, includes a $50 per-unit royalty. Taylor said that the Shark Tank process was as exciting as it was stressful.
“It was pretty dicey throughout the episode. We didn’t know what would happen. [Being on Shark Tank] has opened tons of doors for us and just helped us get it out there,” Johnson said.
Tailgate N Go features many different detachable modules that can be attached to different parts of the box, making it functional from every angle. Taylor said that the original idea for the product came from a family camping trip, when they forgot many kitchen supplies and other necessities during the packing process.
“The Tailgate N Go is the most elaborate outdoor kitchen and dry box you’ve ever dreamed that has all your tailgating and camping needs covered,” Higgins said in a press release by Tail Gate N Go. “A grill, a griddle, a burner, a sink, a dry box, a cutting board and more all at once. I can’t wait to work with this amazing family and my sports network to make some magic!”
The kitchen includes a grill, griddle, burner, sink, cutting board and more.
“I am a part owner [of the company] along with my brother. My father is the inventor of the product. I do the day to day work, like answering phones, posting on social media, that kind of thing,” Johnson said.
Taylor said that being on Shark Tank was a dream come true. She grew up watching the show with her family, so actually being featured on it was incredible for her.
“Honestly it’s so crazy it’s just kind of a blur. We feel like we didn’t even walk in there, we feel like we floated. At the beginning of the episode I stumbled because I was so stunned and I got caught up in my head going ‘oh my God this is real,’” Taylor said.
She then added that she was able to regain her confidence once she realized that the celebrities she was intimidated by were really just ordinary people.
“If you’re passionate about something, you’ll get your point across,” Taylor said.
After their appearance on Shark Tank, the Johnson family has sold many Tailgate N Go boxes. Their company is steadily growing and business is expanding well outside Colorado. According to Taylor, her experience as a Mass Communication major at CMU has helped her prepare for the responsibilities involved in owning and running a small business.
“I use my degree everyday because I do all of our marketing, all of our photos, and all of our print,” Taylor said. “My one word of advice is to [get a minor in business], it helps you learn how to work for yourself and do things on your own. I had to be thrown into the fire and learn how to run a business.”
This is just the beginning for the Johnson family. Taylor said that she loves her job and the way it gives her the opportunity to work alongside some of her former professors as well as with her family. She’s proud to be the owner of her own company.
“I love doing it. Any small business owner will tell you it’s very demanding but [it’s] worth it. It’s something to be proud of, and it gives you good amount of self-worth,” Taylor said.
Their website check it out: tailgatengo.com