Tailgate N Go: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

Cooking in the great outdoors, from tailgating to camping, is a time-honored tradition. But remembering all the equipment and supplies you need, packing it while trying to maximize space in your cooler, setting everything up at your destination, and then realizing you've forgotten a key item, adds a level of stress that detracts from the enjoyment. That was the experience of the Johnson family from Colorado, who came up with a solution: Tailgate N Go.

Ron Johnson, with his daughter, Taylor, and his son, Kobe, came up with the idea after a camping trip. They were frustrated to find they had forgotten to bring some key essentials, not to mention the fact that their picnic table was full after they'd unpacked, with no room to prep. Keen to find a better way, they came up with the idea of a portable outdoor kitchen, kitted out with all the utensils and space required.

Tailgate N Go was designed as a portable modular kitchen and dry box that you can take anywhere outdoors — whether camping, fishing, or tailgating — with a full-size model costing around $1500. Rotating a full 360 degrees, its features included ample storage space, cutting boards, a holder for paper towels, a knife magnet, and a bottle opener, as well as optional attachments such as a single-burner stove, grill — and even a collapsible kitchen sink. In 2019, having already sold over 100 of the boxes, the Johnsons took their invention to "Shark Tank."

What happened to Tailgate N Go on Shark Tank

Ron, Taylor, and Kobe Johnson appeared on "Shark Tank" season 11 to pitch Tailgate N Go to potential investors Daymond John, Mark Cuban, Kevin O'Leary, Lori Greiner, and guest shark Matt Higgins, a serial entrepreneur who at that time was Vice Chairman of the Miami Dolphins.

The Johnsons were seeking $250,000 for 10% of Tailgate N Go, which they claimed would "revolutionize the outdoors forever" (via YouTube). The product had only been on the market for 18 months by the time the trio appeared on "Shark Tank," but sales had tripled in the last six months before their television appearance.

Cuban described the trio as epitomizing the American dream of doing everything themselves with no outside investment but said that he didn't feel Tailgate N Go was a good fit for him. John and Greiner also declined, leaving O'Leary to offer $250,000 as a line of credit at 10% interest for a 10% stake, plus a royalty of $100 per unit, in perpetuity. The Johnsons rejected this, countering with an offer of $250,000 for a 15% stake. After some discussion, the family offered 20% for $250,000 to guest Shark Higgins, keen to capitalize on his relationship with sports customers. Higgins finally offered $250,000 straight equity for 20%, with a $50 royalty per unit until the $250,000 was repaid, which Tail N Go accepted.

Tailgate N Go after Shark Tank

The Johnson family's appearance on "Shark Tank" proved a huge success for Tailgate N Go; it "opened tons of doors for us and just helped us get it out there," co-founder Taylor Johnson told Colorado Mesa University publication The Criterion after the show aired. And the impact showed in the figures, with Tailgate N Go going from $137,000 in sales before "Shark Tank," to $400,000 within three months of the episode airing.

The partnership with guest Shark and investor Matt Higgins proved especially fruitful. Tailgate N Go received a further boost thanks to Higgins using his relationship with the Miami Dolphins, and his sports investment credentials, to help secure a licensing deal with every NFL team across the country; sales were "doing great," said Higgins (via Instagram). 

The NFL deal meant that the Johnsons could use team logos and colors on products, and sell Tailgate N Go items via the NFL shop, as well as on their own website. Higgins described the opportunity as a "game-changer" for the company (via YouTube).

Is Tailgate N Go still in business?

Despite setbacks, including being unable to attend trade shows during the pandemic, delays in shipping due to some supply issues, and the cost of aluminum, the material used to make the box, rising by a whopping 116%, Tailgate N Go is still going strong. The Johnson family makes regular appearances to promote and sell the outdoor kitchen kit at expos and rally events around the country.

As of November 2022, the company was selling around 500 to 1,000 units a year, with Taylor Johnson telling Denver Life Magazine that the best-selling attachments for the Tailgate N Go system were the sink, and the Blackstone griddle.

In terms of its social media presence, Tailgate N Go's Instagram and Twitter accounts are no longer active, but the company regularly posts updates about products and events via Facebook. The outdoor kitchen is still made in the USA, and still family-owned by the Johnsons, who continue to operate it from their home of Colorado.

What's next for Tailgate N Go?

Guest Shark Matt Higgins revealed that the NFL deal was only the beginning for Tailgate N Go, with future plans involving other sports leagues, as well as major retailers. "We are going to be everywhere," he said in a CNBC interview (via YouTube.)

The company has continued to expand its offering, with the regular Tailgate N Go box retailing at $1895, available in a range of customizable color options, and NFL and NCAA editions retailing at $1995 on the company's website, with plenty of opportunities for these ranges to increase as the company grows. Tailgate N Go co-founder Kobe Johnson, who was the first deaf entrepreneur to appear on "Shark Tank," said he would also love to reduce the price of the product in the future so that it could potentially be more accessible to a wider audience.

Sales still seem to be going strong for the company, and as the company continues to travel the country to promote its product, the future looks bright.