On Friday night, a Highland, Utah, father-son duo appeared on the ABC hit show “Shark Tank” and flew away with a big deal for their business, “Paper Box Pilots.” More importantly to his dad Brian, 14-year-old Noah Cahoon gained a one-of-a-kind life experience.
“We didn’t go after this for the money aspect,” Brian Cahoon said on Monday. “We went at it for the experience factor. This was about giving Noah this experience in his youth that he can look back on and be confident about.”
Their product — stickers that transform ordinary cardboard boxes into airplanes — is the result of a father and son with big imaginations and a willingness to dream.
When Noah was only 5 or 6 years old, his dad remembers him saying that they could sell the Paper Box airplanes they created for fun in toy stores. They toyed with the idea for several years, even creating a logo, but never actually moved forward until Noah turned 13 and wanted to buy a skateboard. He worked to save money by mowing lawns until his dad encouraged him to turn their airplane dream into a reality.
“You want to teach your kids the value of work,” Brian Cahoon explained. “I also want to teach my kids what it means to own your own business. I never got to do that. I want to teach him to take risks at a young age.”
They call their business meetings “field trips” and both said that the time they have been able to spend together has been the most memorable part of their experience so far.
Noah recognizes the value of calling his dad his business partner and the significance of the time his dad is spending to help him start his company.
“It means that my dad wants to help me be successful in this industry,” he said. “And to help me know how business works without me having to go out and get a job.”
In reality, while it may not feel like work, this 14-year-old has a job as the CEO of a very successful business. He runs very active Instagram and Twitter accounts for his company (both @boxpilots), has an impressive website at paperboxpilots.com and, as he proved on national television, he calls the shots.
On Shark Tank he received three offers, a very rare feat on the show, and when his dad wouldn’t help him make the decision of which offer to accept, Noah shocked the sharks and the world by choosing the lowest offer. Kevin O’Leary offered Noah $35k for a 50 percent share of his company and Noah, in an impressive business move, accepted.
“I chose Mr. Wonderful because we had done research on the sharks and he was the one that knew everything about the toy industry,” Noah explained. “He is the one that added the most value to our company.”
Spoken like a true businessman.
Brian Cahoon supports his son’s decision and shared why he feels this was an invaluable experience for his son.
“You might say giving away 50 percent of the business is a lot,” Brian Cahoon said. “But it opens up to a mentorship program with Mr. O’Leary that we couldn’t pay for from the colleges.”
Although his product will be a bit different, Noah says he feels this experience is preparing him to someday serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“To be able to go and talk to people at a trade show,” Noah said. “It’s a great experience and is preparing me to go on a mission and pitch the gospel to people.”
In the two days following the episode’s airing, Brian Cahoon says they have sold approximately the same amount of sticker kits they had sold in the previous year.
“We’re learning a lot,” he added. “We’re not going to get super wealthy off of this, but we’re hoping to get Noah’s mission paid for and maybe get a little bit in his college fund.”