Quill And Fox: Transforming Ordinary Boxes Into Extraordinary Adventures
The Allure of Paper Box Pilots Before Shark Tank
Every holiday season, parents eagerly present expensive gifts to their children, only to find that the kids become more enamored with the humble box within hours. This phenomenon is no secret to parents everywhere. However, Paper Box Pilots has managed to turn this common occurrence into something even more entertaining. With their innovative approach, they have transformed any ordinary box into a gift in and of itself.
Brian Cahoon, a father who spent countless hours with his son Noah, knows the inexplicable attraction children have towards large cardboard boxes. Together, they used their creativity to turn these boxes into ships, cars, planes, and whatever else they could imagine. Years later, thirteen-year-old Noah remembered the joy he experienced with those specially designed boxes and decided to make customized boxes for his younger brother Milo.
Milo, like any small child, reveled in the excitement of playing in a box that resembled a plane. This inspired Noah to wonder if other parents would be willing to purchase stickers that could transform any box into an exciting toy for young children, all without the need for batteries.
Noah discussed his idea with his father, Brian, who fully supported his son’s entrepreneurial spirit. Brian even provided Noah with a small business loan to kickstart the Paper Box Pilots venture. And thus, a new business was born.
The Journey of Paper Box Pilots on Shark Tank
When Brian and Noah entered the Shark Tank, they hoped to secure a $35,000 investment for their business. To add to the appeal, they brought along their youngest board member, five-year-old Milo, who held the honorary title of Chief Fun Officer (CFO).
Brian and Noah shared the origin story of Paper Box Pilots, describing the initial boxes Brian had created for young Noah and Noah’s subsequent efforts for his brother. They passionately conveyed the incredible allure that a simple cardboard box held for children. The sharks nodded in agreement, captivated by the notion.
Young Milo, dutifully fulfilling his role as CFO, modeled one of the plane models to the delight of the sharks. The cuteness overload left some of the sharks visibly softened. Perhaps Robert Herjavec felt a tinge of jealousy as Brian and Noah offered him his very own box, designed as a racing car. Robert eagerly accepted the offer and amusingly paraded around with the box around his waist. Finally, Milo, engrossed in his CFO duties, flew out of the tank.
Kevin O’Leary, the shark with extensive knowledge in the children’s toy industry, having made his fortune with The Learning Company, took a keen interest in the product. While he appreciated the concept, he suggested that the stickers be sold alongside plain boxes.
Barbara Corcoran inquired about the price and production cost of the stickers. Noah confidently provided detailed answers, impressing the sharks with his preparedness and business acumen. Mark Cuban asked about sales figures, and although the total revenue of $7,500 seemed relatively modest, the product’s low cost and the potential for bulk sales were enough to pique the sharks’ interest. Despite its recent launch, the business showcased promising growth potential—provided the market was large enough.
The sharks delved further, asking about sales channels. Noah explained that the stickers were available in 23 retail outlets, primarily independent toy stores, with equal online sales. Barbara Corcoran probed Brian about his involvement in the business, to which Brian affirmed that he fully supported Noah’s decisions in running the company.
Brian shared his own ambitions of starting a business while he was younger, but Noah’s birth led him to pursue a less risky path in order to provide the best upbringing for his son. Brian instilled in Noah the belief that life wasn’t limited to a single predefined path and encouraged him to follow his entrepreneurial ideas.
Kevin reiterated his interest and the value he could bring to the business. He proposed a $35,000 investment in exchange for a 50% partnership, jokingly suggesting that Noah leave school. Noah, an eighth-grader at that time, looked hesitant, uncertain if Kevin was joking or not. Kevin then reassured him, saying, “So you miss a few grades.”
Grateful for Kevin’s offer, Noah thanked him and inquired if any of the other sharks were interested in investing in his company. Mark Cuban congratulated Noah on the offer and deemed Kevin’s proposal fair. He acknowledged that he couldn’t add as much value to the business as Kevin and respectfully bowed out. Lori Greiner commended Noah’s achievements but expressed concerns about the scalability of the business. She suggested Noah reach out to her in a few years to work together, regretfully declining to invest.
Still energized by his experience with the cardboard box and car stickers, Robert Herjavec matched Kevin’s offer, proposing a $35,000 investment for a 50% stake. Kevin swiftly interjected, highlighting his history with Mattel and the $4 billion deal he struck with them. Stressing his expertise, Kevin asserted that the business could even pay for Noah’s college expenses if he became his partner.
Barbara interjected, presenting Noah with an alternative offer: $35,000 for a 35% equity stake, a promising deal that surpassed the others. However, she required Noah to make Paper Box Pilots’ stickers inclusive and appealing to girls as well.
Not one to back down, Robert improved his offer to a $50,000 investment for a 50% equity stake, emphasizing that the math remained the same. Unexpectedly, he even declared himself “The Fun Shark,” much to the surprise of his fellow sharks. Kevin, determined to add the most value to the company, challenged Robert’s self-proclaimed title and urged Noah to make his decision.
Slightly overwhelmed by the attention and the three sharks vying for a deal, Noah consulted with his father in a hushed conversation. Brian encouraged Noah to trust his instincts and choose the mentor he believed would best guide their business. Noah wasted no time and enthusiastically accepted Kevin’s offer.
Ecstatic with Noah’s decision, Kevin reveled in his victory. Barbara, less enthused, couldn’t help but exclaim, “Unbelievable.”
Paper Box Pilots Today: The After Shark Tank Update in 2023
With Kevin’s financial infusion, Paper Box Pilots was able to expand its operations and take the company to new heights. Taking Barbara’s advice to heart, they started producing stickers that appealed to both girls and boys. This strategic move proved successful, leading to a significant boost in sales.
The exposure from appearing on Shark Tank also played a pivotal role. Within a few weeks, sales skyrocketed, increasing tenfold. The company expanded its product line to include sets of stickers featuring racing cars and firetrucks, the latter emphasizing a young girl playing with the box. To further capitalize on their newfound success, they introduced a “Shark Tank Special” package, offering a variety of stickers at a reasonable price of $20.
In addition to traditional retail outlets, Paper Box Pilots began selling its stickers on Amazon. Customers praised the product for its entertainment value and fun-filled activity for children. Many delighted in decorating and playing with the boxes. However, some customers expressed disappointment over the lack of a separate cardboard box, as the company encouraged reusing old boxes for eco-friendly reasons. Others considered the product slightly overpriced, considering it consisted of only two pages of stickers. As a result, the product received a mixed rating of 3.7 stars on Amazon.
Unfortunately, despite their initial success, Paper Box Pilots only lasted a few years. The business eventually closed its doors. However, its product listing and customer reviews can still be found on Amazon. Perhaps, had they provided their own cardboard boxes alongside the stickers, the company may have enjoyed a longer lifespan. This aspect emerged as one of their major criticisms. Nevertheless, they prioritized recycling and sustainability over potential sales.
As for Noah, he has since entered his twenties (he was only thirteen during his Shark Tank appearance in 2014). He is currently pursuing his college education at Brigham Young University and is set to graduate in 2024. Noah also engages in freelance photography and enjoys snowboarding and soccer during his leisure time, as seen on his Instagram page.
Will we witness Noah’s entrepreneurial journey continue in the future? Only time will tell. For now, he remains focused on his studies, but the entrepreneurial spirit within him may lead him to embark on new ventures after college.