Carter Kostler entered the Shark Tank in Season 5 with his Define Bottle. The product infuses water with fruit in a clear plastic to-go container. The young entrepreneur will be featured on the inaugural episode of Beyond the Tank, the new show that revisits the companies that once competed on the show.
We interviewed the 16-year-old about his experience on the show and how far he has come today.
1. Carter Didn’t Get a Deal
The Virginia Beach native asked the Sharks for $100,000 for 20 percent of his company. When he faced the sharks, he was just 15, which the investors were surprised to learn. At that time, he informed them that his sales were $65,000 in four months.
The Sharks liked the fruit-infused water, which he distributed to each of them filled with their favorite fruits. Lori got out after explaining that there is too much competition out there. When the teen explained how much money he used to start the company, Barbara realized she would never get her investment back, and also backed out. Kevin said it was “not investable” and didn’t give him a deal either.
Robert loved the design and the fact that the bottle was already sold in big retailers like Whole Foods. He offered $100,000 for forty percent of the business. After consulting his parents, Kostler said that his company is worth more due to the assets they own, and gave a counteroffer which Robert did not accept. Mark wasn’t confident in the money spent on the company and the fact that Kostler didn’t adequately explain his competition.
2. He Thinks Mark Cuban Is a Genius
Although he did not get a deal, Kostler still values the Sharks’ opinions. In fact, he still is in touch with Cuban.
I have a lot of respect for all of the Sharks but especially Mark Cuban. If I email him with an important business question he is kind enough to respond. I think he is a genius.
He also realized that he can excel without a deal from the show. “Though it took some time, I learned that you don’t need a shark to be successful in your business,” he said. When you walk out it may seem like the end of the world but it is not.”
3. He’s Met Michelle Obama & Bill Clinton
Kostler was a national finalist in Michelle Obama’s Partnership for a Healthier America’s End Childhood Obesity Innovation Challenge.
He has also made another presidential connection through his work. “I have also met President Clinton a few times through my work with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Their goal is to help fight childhood obesity and I sit on the youth advisory board. It is a cause that I am very passionate about.”
4. The Bottles Are Launching in Target
The determined young man did not let his inability to get a deal deter him. “Our sales and business exploded after Shark Tank even though we didn’t make a deal happen. My disappointment turned into determination to make my business a success,” he said.
One of his efforts included networking with buyers on LinkedIn. This resulted in him connecting with someone at Target. ” I flew out to Target HQ two weeks later with my parents and we put a deal together. I was so excited.” In just a few weeks, you will be seeing Define Bottle in Target.
You can also find one of his products in Dicks Sporting Goods. Kostler partnered with Carrie Underwood’s yoga line, Calia. He explained the partnership, saying, “We partnered with them to make a special fruit infused water bottle for her line. It is a beautiful bottle!” You can view the product here.
5. He’s Now Homeschooled
He got the idea at 13 years old after watching his mother opt for soda or juice on her way out the door. His parents took out a mortgage to support their son’s fledgling company, since it took $300,000 to start the business.
Running Define Bottle proved difficult for Kostler while he was in high school. Therefore, he decided to take another approach to his education. “I am now home schooled through a great program and have a lot more flexibility to do my school work and attend meetings, trade shows and of course pack bottles!