Carbondale ski wax maker dives into the Shark Tank
Peter Arlein of mountainFLOW Eco-wax makes investor pitch in show airing Friday on ABC
Peter Arlein wasn’t quite sure what to make of the email he got about this time last year asking if he wanted to pitch his Carbondale-based eco-friendly ski wax company on ABC’s Shark Tank.
After all, he didn’t figure there were many avid skiers among the panel of celebrity investors, known as “sharks,” on the popular entrepreneurial-themed reality TV show, or even among its viewers.
“When I saw the email, I didn’t even think it was real,” Arlein said.
Sure enough, when he replied he learned that mountainFLOW Eco-wax had been discovered by some Shark Tank talent scouts at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Denver, and they wanted him to come on the show.
The episode has since been recorded, and it airs at 7 p.m. (MST) Friday on Denver Channel 7 and other ABC affiliates.
“I told the producers the mountainFLOW story, and it just really resonated with them, and they thought it would hit home with their viewers just because we have such an interesting and innovative product,” Arlein said.
That was kind of the way things went when the company got its start.
Arlein had been working to develop a more environmentally friendly, plant-based ski wax for a couple of years when changes in EPA regulations banning one of the main ingredients in petroleum-based ski waxes, fluorocarbons, worked to his advantage.
“The timing just happened to be really good luck on our part,” he said. “Pretty much all of the ski waxes up until a few years ago were made from petroleum, so I saw a hole in the market. We came up with a wax made entirely from plant-based ingredients that works just as well.”
MountainFlow started making its Eco-wax products in 2016, and the company has grown to distribute its product globally, while maintaining its humble roots in Carbondale.
Arlein is no stranger to the “pitch” format, having participated in the Shark Tank-themed local venture capital Roaring Fork Angels pitch events sponsored by Carbondale-based nonprofit Coventure.
Coventure helped mountainFLOW get up and running, and Arlein’s two-person office is now located in Coventure’s business incubator space at 201 Main St. in Carbondale.
“We were aware of Peter for a while, and are always interested in market opportunities,” Coventure Executive Director Mike Lowe said. “When the EPA released this mandate on petroleum-based ski wax, it was a unique opportunity for him, and we were excited to connect him to the resources he needed to get started.
“It’s been fun and exciting to see his growth in a very tangible way, and we’re proud to be part of his success,” Lowe said.
Arlein said mountainFLOW is different than most of the companies featured on Shark Tank, since its products have more of a niche audience.
“However, due to our unique product offering and sales traction, it made for appealing TV,” he said. “My goal in making our pitch was to explain mountainFLOW products in a way that everyone could understand … just bringing it back to a very basic level, why we’re in the market, why it’s so important to use eco-friendly products on your skis or snowboards…
“I’m really happy with how things went (with the pitch), and I encourage people to tune in Friday night,” Arlein said, without spilling the beans as to the outcome.
MountainFLOW now distributes its ski wax products throughout the United States and Canada, and in Europe. The company also sponsors a pair of World Cup alpine skiers, Norway’s Aleksander Kilde and Bridger Gile from Aspen.
The company now has two full-time employees in Arlein as CEO and George Johnson, operations manager, plus 30-some sales reps around the world.
In addition to its ski wax products, mountainFLOW has recently launched a line of bicycle care products, including an eco-friendly chain lubricant, grease and bike wash.
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