Laylan Connelly The Orange County Register
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Laylan Connelly reports, "The Clark family — parents John and Manya and daughters Alleanna, Juliette and Lyla — will be featured Friday, March 12, on the popular show, the latest of several beach-centric ideas born out of Orange County and pitched to the investors on national television through the years."
Every wave is a party wave on the Tandem Boogie, an idea created by a San Clemente ocean-loving family that allows two people to share the stoke of riding the same wave.
But will "Shark Tank" investors help the idea ride a wave of success — or will the idea wipe out?
The Clark family — parents John and Manya and daughters Alleanna, Juliette and Lyla — will be featured Friday, March 12, on the popular show, the latest of several beach-centric ideas born out of Orange County and pitched to the investors on national television through the years.
While the network and the Clark family wouldn't leak if they actually got a shark investor to bite with financial backing before the episode airs, the family gave a glimpse at how the idea was born on the beach and the experience of trying to pitch their idea to the sharks to give a boost to their small business.
John Clark, an avid bodyboarder, a few years ago for his birthday came across a big bodyboard at a local San Clemente shop, eBodyboarding. It was a mega-wide board that he could pop his girls on with him so they could share the thrill of catching a wave.
That board was clunky by design and they had trouble catching waves. But Clark liked the idea of spending time in the water with his daughters and sharing waves.
"The concept of sharing waves on the same board clicked that day. Just that thrill when you get picked up and ride the wave together with someone close to you," Clark said. "That became the tradition for us."
Clark and wife Manya were already entrepreneurs, running a shelving company together called Modern Shelving. Manya Clark, an industrial engineer with a background in manufacturing, jokes that if John can sell it, she can make it.
So they got to work designing a bodyboard that could fit two people, a longer board at 50-inches tall by 33-inches wide. The person in front steers while the person in back kicks, or they can ride side-by-side, both hanging on to handles for stability.
Instead of using the traditional foam Boogie Board material created by inventor Tom Morey 50 years ago, they made it inflatable with a pump so it can be lightweight, rolled up and carried in a bag.
"People think 'Oh it's already been invented,'" John Clark said. "But when you take an idea and you think about how you can relate it to what's new today, like some of the new technologies ... that's how you come up with the idea that can still be transformational and meet the needs of everyone."
So what does Morey, who also lives in San Clemente and has seen the invention up close, think of the adaptation of his original creation?
"It's a terrific idea," Morey said. "I wish him all the best. I am all aboard the tandem board."
The Tandem Boogie debuted in 2019, when the family hosted a small event as part of the seaside town's Ocean Festival.
Clark takes the Tandem Boogie out to his favorite spot at T-Street Beach to have fellow bodyboarders test it out and give feedback.
"Everyone you'd see jump on the board had this huge smile on their face," said Cliff Pawley, who also had a blast giving the board a try. The buzz on the beach had the Clarks wondering: Maybe other people would like to own a Tandem Boogie.
It wasn't the hard-core surfers gravitating to the Tandem Boogie, but people would were timid to get in the water without someone else — families like themselves who wanted to share a laugh, a parent with a young child or an elderly person or someone with a disability who wanted the thrill of the ride, but couldn't do it on their own physically.
"That was the joy for us, seeing new people catch their first wave," John Clark said.
In 2020, the Clarks were supposed to have an even bigger showcase at the Ocean Festival, but the coronavirus pandemic canceled the event. So instead, the family started a Kickstarter.
They raised double the goal, more than $30,000, enough to make a few hundreds boards and show there was indeed an interest in the Tandem Boogie. J
en Humboldt, of San Juan Capistrano, was one of those early supporters. "I love it, it feels like you're floating on air, but you don't miss a wave," she said on a recent day before heading out in the water. "You can catch anything on it."
With surfing, people take it too seriously and can even be grouchy out in the water, but the Tandem Boogie is all about the fun, she said.
"I think it just captures happiness," she said. "It's like barrel laughing, you get to a certain age and you don't laugh like that anymore."
The Clark family's big break came in early 2020 when they applied to "Shark Tank" and got a spot on the show, with the taping happening in August in Las Vegas.
"It was a little surreal. We had been watching the show since the first season," Manya Clark said.
Her impression of the shark investors?
"At least they were really nice to us," she said. "It's not as intimidating as you think it's going to be."
They can't, of course, divulge just how nice in monetary terms the investors were.
They are hoping the national exposure will draw interest, even from those away from the ocean who can use the Tandem Boogie behind boats in lakes or in the snow, which they've tested with success in recent months. Most importantly, is the life lesson for their children, who are all part of the ride.
Being entrepreneurs has allowed John and Manya Clark the flexibility to spend time with their kids as they grow up — and the kids are learning lessons from their parent's work-for-yourself lifestyle.
"My parents started their own business when we were young, that was always something inspiring," said daughter Juliette Clark, who serves as co-CEO with her sister, Alleanna.
Alleanna Clark, 22, used to teach surfing lessons just steps away from where a group of Tandem Boogie enthusiast gathered on a recent day at T-Street. For her, sharing the stoke is the best part.
"When you see other people with joy, it brings it to you as well," she said. Lyla Clark, a 16-year-old San Clemente High School student and the brand's chief merchandising officer, prefers to stand up on the board and ride it like a surfboard. So they have created a line of big inflatable surfboards, dubbing those Tandem Surf.
The family is considering changing the entire brand name to Tandem Surf in the future so they can expand the line.
The family won't see the "Shark Tank" segment until it airs at 8 p.m. on Friday and plans to host a virtual watch show, with the link available on their social channels.
"You have the power to create something that people enjoy, " Juliette Clark said. "And we really think that Tandem Boogie has a really great opportunity to benefit people and that's what motivates us to keep going. When we started, we weren't planning on making a business. We made a product for ourselves and we saw an opportunity to bring our family fun to people everywhere."