Tailgate N Go is a portable kitchen device founded by Ron, Taylor, and Kobe Johnson. They will be appearing on Shark Tank to pitch their device, in the hopes that an investor will help them with distribution.
Kitchen N Go is a modernized “chuck box” that stores meat as well as cutting boards, condiments, and more. You can also add a griddle or stove. Read on to learn more about the Johnson family, their respective backgrounds, and how they plan to expand their business moving forward.
Here’s what you need to know about Tailgate N Go:
1. Kitchen N Go Is a Storage Box for Camping & Outdoor Use
Kitchen N Go is a modernized take on the “chuck box,” which is where campers store their cooking supplies to prepare a meal. The term comes from the “chuck wagons” of the old west, after the wagon that was the trail “kitchen” on a cattle drive. The modern day “chuck box” is usually designed to fit into an automobile. Kitchen N Go takes the template to the next level.
Kitchen N Go comes with a plethora of tools. In addition to meat storage, the device comes with cutting boards, condiments, a knife magnet, storage nets and racks. There are even attachments included that would allow a user to turn it into a full outdoor kitchen, such as a griddle or a single burner oven. According to Shark Tank Blog, there’s even a swing out trailer hitch so you don’t have to lift the Kitchen N Go device when you travel.
There are two model options. The first is the TNG, which currently sells for $1650 on the website. The second is the Outlander, which sells for $1550. They are also several accessories that you can purchase, including a leg kit ($279), a TNG cover ($150) and a collapsible sink ($189).
2. Ron Johnson Created Kitchen N Go After a Camping Trip with His Kids
Ron Johnson said that he would often go on camping trips with his kids, Taylor and Kobe, but that their site was constantly overrun with bags and clutter. Ron often forgot crucial items like utensils or condiments, and he noticed that neighboring camp sites were experiencing similar organization problems. “It was funny,” Taylor told the News Crunch. “We were seeing this over and over and over.”
Ron eventually thought up a way to organize camp cooking by taking the basic structure of the “chuck box” and improving it. “I thought there had to be a better way for a dry box,” he recalled. From there, Ron and his kids went about creating a prototype for a box that could hold all condiments, and any non-perishable gear for food. ”Just from that experience we realized—well, my dad looking at me—he realized, ‘Where’s your truck box? Where’s your box with all the dry goods in it for camping?’” Taylor added.
After several revisions and tweaks to the prototype, Tailgate N Go became a business. Kitchen N Go is based out of Grand Junction, and the Johnson clan take pride in the fact that they are completely homegrown and family-based. ”We’re a 100% Colorado company,” Taylor explained. “We do everything here in house and we do everything as a family.”
3. The Johnsons Said Their ‘Shark Tank’ Experience was ‘Surreal’
The Johnsons displayed their Tailgate N Go device at trade shows across the country in an effort to promote them and gauge the reaction of potential customers. The feedback was positive, and many suggested that they audition for Shark Tank. The Johnsons went to a casting call in Southern California, and months later, they were selected to pitch to the panel.
Taylor told the Business Times they beat the odds. Out of 40,000 businesses that apply each season, only 150 are selected to pitch to the Shark panel. Of those, only 80 are included on broadcast episodes. “Our Shark Tank experience was unbelievable, once in a lifetime,” she recalled. “We just cannot wait for it to air and we’re excited to see our company on the big screen.”
Ron said that the Shark Tank appearance was validation that Kitchen N Go was a viable idea to begin with. “It’s real business,” he said. “It’s really happening.” Ron also talked about working with his family, and how the experience has brought them closer together. “It’s been all the more satisfying because [I’ve] worked with [my] daughter and son on developing Tailgate N Go. The most fun I have is sharing all this with the kids.”
4. Kobe Johnson Is the First Deaf Entrepreneur to Appear on ‘Shark Tank’
Ron’s son Kobe is the first deaf entrepreneur to appear on an episode of Shark Tank. “I’ll never forget it,” he said of the experience. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is real.’ ” Kobe will be using sign language to communicate during the pitch. He also posted an Instagram video where he explains Kitchen N Go and its various accessories in American Sign Language (ALS). Check it out above.
Kobe and Taylor are the official owners of Tailgate N Go, and they run most of the day-to-day business. The former recently graduated from Fruita Monument High School. Ron helps them out, but he also runs and owns Riverbend Machinery in Grand Junction.
In addition to Tailgate N Go, Kobe has plans to start a business of his own. ”I have lots of inventions to help with new deaf technology and now technology with the deaf is old school and outdated,” he told the News Crunch. “When I’m all done working with Tailgate N Go in the future, I would like to start a new business named DeafTech.”
5. The Johnsons Want a ‘Shark’ to Help Them Increase Distribution
The Johnsons want an investor in Kitchen N Go so that they can increase their distribution and get into stores across the nation. In addition to selling on their website, they plan to make Kitchen N Go available on Amazon.com and other online outlets.
According to Shark Tank Blog, the family are also looking for a larger business space in Grand Junction. In an effort to increase distribution, they will need more room to manufacture devices. There is also the matter of taxes. The Colorado Rural Jump-Start Program offers tax incentives to companies that create new jobs, so Ron, Taylor, and Kobe are looking to take advantage of it.
Tailgate N Go devices are currently fabricated in Denver, but assembled in Grand Junction. Only time will tell as to whether a Shark Tank investor will aid them, or if they will be able to stay in their hometown. “We want to stay in Grand Junction,” Kobe admitted. “That would be awesome.”