Create A Castle co-founders Kevin and Laurie Lane, swam with the Shark Tank sharks, pitching their innovative sand-and-snow castle-building toy line and came away with a new partner in billionaire entrepreneur Kendra Scott who outbid fellow shark Daymond John with a $350,000 offer for 20% of the business.
This latest Shark Tank win for Create A Castle caps a remarkable journey for the New Milford couple that began four years ago when Kevin, an established web developer who was also an avid sand sculptor, believed that if you could make the often frustrating experience of building sand castles with your children easier and more dynamic, families would spend more fun time together.
From that belief, the Lanes devoted all of their spare time to engineering and testing a revolutionary “split-mold” design, finally resulting in a patented system that would not only work in the sand, but equally well in building snow castles. And from that sand-and-snow foundation, Create A Castle was launched as a year-round product.
The fledgling firm got a huge boost when Create A Castle was featured on the “Live With Kelly & Ryan” show in 2018 as a “Hot Summer Toy” and then followed with an industry-shocking TOTY (“Toy Of The Year”) Award in 2020, beating out some of the largest brands in the world as the best outdoor toy. That, in turn, led to recognition from consumers, media and retailers alike, with great reviews, increased sales and partnerships with such leaders as Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco Canada, Dick’s Sporting Goods and many more.
Then came the pandemic, throwing a tidal wave of challenges at sand-building castles…but dedicated entrepreneurs have persistence in their DNA, and the Lanes weathered that storm in the knowledge that quality and innovation would eventually win the day. Indeed, to satisfy consumer requests to develop a product for at-home use, Create A Castle launched BuildMaster, a proprietary new compound coupled with the brand’s signature detail and split-mold design.
“You might say we’ve already been swimming with sharks for four years,” stated Kevin, “since the toy industry is fiercely competitive and dominated by a handful of major players.”
“However, it’s also an industry that recognizes and rewards innovative creativity,” added Laurie, “and Create A Castle checks all those boxes.”
Kendra Scott readily agrees, stating that “Kevin and Laurie have what it takes to be the next Shark Tank success story. They are passionate, offer a great product, andpossess incredible growth potential. As an investor, I will help them build the business they envision, encourage them to dream big and, most importantly, create products that bring joy and togetherness to families everywhere.”
Looking back, Kevin observes that “we’re almost like the toy industry version of a garage band that made to the big time, since we started in our garage and are now beginning to grow internationally through a partnership with the classic brand, TOMY to distribute product in Australia and New Zealand.”
What’s ahead for the Lanes? “We now have a strong pipeline of introductions slated for 2023, as well as new retail partners such as Target, Barnes and Noble and many more. And we are going to continue to develop products to bring families together, one castle at a time.”
Finally, all entrepreneurs start with building their own castles in the sky, but the Lanes have succeeded in building their sand-and-snow castles on solid ground, and their ongoing message is…”we mean business!”