We interviewed owner Rachel Zietz who started the business at 13 years old. Her products can be found on Amazon and small shops across the country. Her hopes are to one day launch in places like Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods. “I plan on making Gladiator Lacrosse the brand for lacrosse-related equipment and gear,” she said. “I will be graduating high school in a couple of years, and I hope to attend a college with a great business school, where I can not only bring the experience I have acquired so far, but where I can learn even more how to take my business, or any future entrepreneurial endeavors, to the next level.”
Here’s what she else told us about…
Starting Her Business
I saw a need in the market for better lacrosse equipment. I took part in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, which had mentors from my community help students start a business and help get it off the ground. I decided that there was a need for better products, and used the money I received from the investor panel competition to buy my first container of products. I did not think I would sell my products so quickly, or that I would learn so much about running a business in such a short period of time, but now I’ve learned about planning inventory, managing employees, marketing and online selling. My parents are both entrepreneurs and have also been an incredible help and inspiration to me. It’s been an amazing experience!
My bestsellers would be the rebounders and the goals, as they are the two basic products which can improve a player’s game the most. The rebounders are of great quality at probably the lowest price you can find, and have made us the top quality rated sellers on Amazon. Our goals are also top rated for quality online, so they are very popular.
The Lack of Good Lacrosse Products on the Market
I play lacrosse year-round on three different teams, so am very familiar with all the lacrosse products out there, as I have used many of them myself. I am also able to get a lot of feedback from all the players around me- whether it’s from the players on my own teams or the players I am playing against. I could not believe the poor quality of some of these products and the high prices that they were selling for. I quickly figured out that where there’s a need, there’s an opportunity.
Getting Into the ‘Tank’
I received an email from Shark Tank telling me that they had seen my business featured in an Entrepreneur Magazine article, and that I should apply to be on the show. I put in my application, and a couple of months later I was contacted by the producers to come out to California and present my business to the Sharks. I had to keep everything about the show confidential, so it was definitely a challenge flying out to California and not being able to tell anyone about it, and then for almost one year after!