Started my own company at the age of 13 with the help of my parents. Hoping to help give people a healthier alternative to soda and juice and help those struggling with childhood obesity and diabetes with my invention. My product launch was with President Clinton about 2 years ago and ever since things have been exploding.. Shark Tank was a crazy experience and I would love to share it with you guys!

Here is my Shark Tank episode... I'm the first one up in the video

Comments: 232 • Responses: 51  • Date: 

dixie812366 karma

How did you get on Shark Tank?

How much of it is scripted?

carterkostler161 karma

Funny thing is... they called me and asked if I wanted to be on the show. They told me that they googled "teen entrepreneurs" and my name came up so they sent over an email. After saying yes there was months of practicing my pitch in front of my parents and my producer night after night. In terms of scripted-ness, absolutely NONE!

dtcock53 karma

You are far better-spoken and thoughtful at 15 than most people are at any point in their lives. You will go far in life.

carterkostler5 karma

This made my day.. thank you.

T1mac53 karma

Not a bit.. Keeping 100% equity of my company AND my episode airing was truly the best "deal".

You gave the above answer to the question about regrets on turning down Robert's offer.

But doesn't Sony make you sign over 5% of your sales for getting on the show?

carterkostler109 karma

That WAS the case.. originally just by going on the show you had to give up 3-5% equity but months before I came on they got rid of that policy. I got lucky!

chefbsba43 karma

I remember you! How has being on shark tank affected sales of your product? Do you regret turning down Robert's deal? In hindsight if you could go back and accept the deal, would you?

carterkostler113 karma

That's awesome! They call it the Shark Tank effect for a reason... the night that my episode aired I sat in my kitchen refreshing the sales page on my computer and every second that I hit that button another 1,000 dollars would come in. We ended the weekend by doing over a QUARTER MILLION dollars in sales.. it was insane. As to Robert's offer, I have no regrets about the decision I made. 40% was too much and my parents and I didn't think he had the business connections to propel the product further.

that_random_potato40 karma

What tips would you give to another person who will go to Shark Tank?

carterkostler105 karma

Definitely be prepared for the stress that comes with it.. constantly pitching, rehearsing, memorizing numbers and stats about your business can be pretty monotonous after awhile. The whole experience, ESPECIALLY THE BUILD UP is nerve wracking. Most of all... soak it all in. You're out in beautiful California on a movie sound stage surrounded by all these cool props and shit.. (Walter White's Green Aztec was 10 feet away from my trailer)

OhioStateBuckeyes35 karma

I saw one of these bottles at a local health food store the other day and bought it for my wife. She used it for the first time today with some raspberries and loved it! What a crazy coincidence this AMA is.

My question is, is the small bottle meant to be drank straight out of or is it more for infusing the water and then you're supposed to pour into a glass?

carterkostler29 karma

WOW! Thank you for picking one up for your wife.. glad she loves it. The small bottle, (along with all Define Bottles) are intended to be used directly from the bottle.

carterkostler32 karma

There is something that I would like to address: If you watch my episode there is a moment where i get asked a question, it pans to me and I say "i dont now" looking like an idiot.. That was NOT what I said to that precise question! I was in the tank for 1 HOUR AND 30 MINUTES. They edit it all down to what? 10? Things get thrown around and jumbled. Dont forget, they need to create GOOD TELEVISION!

DramDemon32 karma

What happens before you enter?

carterkostler110 karma

To put this all in perspective I was in a studio back lot in LA.. Wardrobe, hair and make up, then i got escorted (by golf cart) to the stage set where filming takes place.. I stood behind the doors.. ready to walk in and heard "QUIET ON SET" and nearly shit my pants.

Ozfarts24 karma

Is your parents mortgage paid and dealt with now that you've hit 1m in sales, or were there huge costs associated? I bet there was/is a lot of pressure on you with your parents being in it for that much.

carterkostler33 karma

The mortgage isn't fully dealt with yet but we are close! and yeah, absolutely, my parents have obviously put a ton of not only time but capital into my business so there is some pressure for good results!

Monty159723 karma

Did you get get to have a private conversation with the sharks outside of the actual show and did you get to sit in any of their exotic cars?

carterkostler28 karma

Nope and nope.

MikeBotz18 karma

How's the business doing since you were on Shark Tank?

carterkostler63 karma

Just threw a party last night at my house to celebrate hitting a million dollars in sales.. everything is FANTASTIC. Home Shopping Network is taking the bottle, I'm doing several trade shows all over the U.S, a reality TV show is in development, and I will be doing a TED Talk this November! Couldn't be happier..

MikeBotz16 karma

That's awesome! Keep doing what your doing . I'll check the out the TED talk when it happens.

carterkostler14 karma

Thank you Mike!

spot990118 karma

As a 16 year old who is looking to get my product on store shelves, how would I do that? Just going store to store and asking managers or something? Also, I remember seeing you on shark tank. Define bottle is amazing.

carterkostler50 karma

Going from store to store and cold calling companies is exactly what I do.. You know how I got into several Whole Foods in the Mid Atlantic region? WALKING IN, PITCHING MY PRODUCT TO THE MANAGER AND NOT LEAVING TILL HE MADE A PURCHASE! Don't be afraid to look stupid or be aggressive!

RosscoGiordano9 karma

I'm wondering why, after gaining traction in some chains you hadn't called Central and said, "hey, we're doing so well in these chains; are you willing to take us nationally?"

or, have you done this?

carterkostler8 karma

I absolutely have done that! We are steadily gaining traction in WF as they have seen that time and time again, we sell out.

ehgates13 karma

Hey Carter! Super impressed, are you still looking for investors?

carterkostler21 karma

Thank you! I'm always open to somebody investing and partnering up with the company... currently what I'm looking for are people who have those connections that bring Define Bottle to the next level.

aglowa11 karma

What steps did you take to be able to efficiently start a business at that young of an age?

carterkostler21 karma

Since the day the business has started one of my top priorities has been to balance my school work, my social life, and the business. I like to think that I've done well at maintaing that balance. My parents have especially helped me in this way.

FrostyPenguin10 karma


carterkostler17 karma

Find an industrial designer off of the internet that can meet your needs.. he/she will hook you up with factories, manufactures, ALL that! If you need resources shoot me an email!

FrostyPenguin4 karma


carterkostler8 karma

all contact info is on my website:

GreenWhiteDude10 karma

Which one of the sharks was your favorite?

carterkostler32 karma

Mark Cuban! The nicest and most encouraging out of all of the sharks. He even came back stage afterwards and asked for 2 bottles!

hadoken1710 karma

You said above you didn't have any private conversations with any of the sharks...

carterkostler19 karma

He didn't talk ask me directly of course.. he asked the producers

theshamespearofhurt10 karma

Asked for? He didn't pay?

carterkostler22 karma


reddiyter133210 karma

Did any of the sharks offer to invest in you?

carterkostler14 karma

Yep. Robert wanted 40% of my company. I thought that was a little much so I said no.

SawJong8 karma

Have you regretted not taking the deal at all?

carterkostler31 karma

Not a bit.. Keeping 100% equity of my company AND my episode airing was truly the best "deal".

WilliamGoat9 karma

What's your favorite flavor of ice cream and why is it chocolate?

carterkostler42 karma


oneAngrySonOfaBitch8 karma

What is the reddit effect like ?

carterkostler8 karma

I will absolutely keep you updated on that

AtoZZZ7 karma

How the hell did you get Bill to endorse you?

carterkostler22 karma

His people actually found me! Early on part of my strategy was to create fruit infused water recipe sites and promote the bottle on them.. It turned out that at this annual event that he holds there is a fruit infused water station on the golf course one of his people googled recipes for the event. The Define Bottle popped up, as did my story, and we got the call to fly out!

Fredi_ManYeti7 karma

Who were you looking to do a deal with before you came on, and why?

Also you mentioned that you turned down Robert's offer because your dad said he didn't have the connections you felt you needed. How did he come to that conclusion?

carterkostler12 karma

Yes! Going in I had three people that if they gave me the right number I would lock it in INSTANTLY and shake there hand.. Mark, Barbara, and Laurie. Laurie was #1 since she had QVC and connections with more female oriented companies.. (our demographic). My parents and I didn't want Robert because we felt he didn't have the connections best suited for the Define Bottle. One of his prominent connects is Costco.. my bottle is not a Costco product. My goal is to get into higher end retailers and establish the Define Bottle as the high end fruit infused water bottle.

pkosuda3 karma

By higher end, do you mean stores like Big Y? Not sure if you're from the north east as it's a grocery chain in that area. Asking because I work for them and it'd be insanely cool to eventually see your product hit our shelves.

carterkostler8 karma

I just did a quick search of Big Y.. I could definitely send them a bottle and see what they say! The Define Bottle always sells out when sold in the produce section! (people see the fresh fruit with the bottles and make the connection)

leicashooter7 karma

Have you had better luck with the ladies since the show aired?

carterkostler86 karma

better? come on... I was killin it even before it aired!

Obsi38 karma

How hot is Lori in real life?

carterkostler21 karma

7.5 outta 10

PerfectDelusion7 karma

I like bananas, can I get banana flavored water in this contraption?

carterkostler8 karma

Banana water gets a little.. gross. I wouldn't recommend it.

averagespaceliquid6 karma

Cool product!

How would it go if one wanted to use loose-leaf tea in it? The strainer gaps look a tad wide but it would be awesome to have a fruit/tea blend.

carterkostler2 karma

Loose leaf tea has been brought up before and with some it is big enough not to go through the strainer and others you have to put it into a tea infuser balls (usually a tiny metallic one)

peristalsismcgee5 karma

What were some of your other ideas for the company's name?

carterkostler11 karma

Its always been Define Bottle. I knew from the beginning that I wanted it to sound elegant.. not something like "H20 INFUSER BOTTLE" no no no.

15j3 karma

Is Kevin as mean as he seems on TV? He always seems very negative, much moreso than the other sharks.

carterkostler8 karma

Kevin said if he invested he wanted me to drop out of high school! I dont know why they didnt air that part. Would have been great television.. Barbara was the meanest by far.

200proofcraft3 karma

How was the supplier search? What processes do you do in-house and what's being sourced?

carterkostler5 karma

in-house: All shipping

Sourced: Manufacturing and some staff

IamGrimReefer3 karma

how did you know the sharks' favorite fruit?

carterkostler9 karma

They give you a list before hand.. I was thinking of putting garlic in Mr. Wonderful's bottle, but my mother insisted that I didn't do it.

TrashTalkFF3 karma

what was your first big purchase after you realized you were a success?

carterkostler6 karma

More product!

CobaltMoon983 karma

As a teen who gets extremely excited when my two digit tee shirt design check comes in, I have to say I'm definitely interested in and a bit envious of your situation. As for my questions... On average, how much time did you spend on the business a week during the early stages? Also, do you have any other ideas for new products considering this has done so well? Thanks!

carterkostler9 karma

Early on (freshman year of HS) I worked my ass off... The Define Bottle made its debut at President Clinton's Health Matters initiative in Palm Springs CA after he ordered 600 bottles, the patent process was a total pain, we had to move our tooling from one factory (who was screwing us over) to another in this spec ops type night raid, and on top of that we got a huge order of faulty bottles. it was nuts.In terms of exact hours I worked back then I don't know, but it was a lot. In terms of new products, YES! There will be Define Bottles with several colors and there will be a totally different product that will be unveiled in the upcoming months! i always have ideas going..

CobaltMoon983 karma

Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I've always considered myself somewhat of an entrepreneur (hell, I sold golf balls out of my back yard), but I've never really pursued something big like you have. I don't know if I'll ever have time to carry out any of my ideas, but you've definitely inspired my to put more effort into them and to try some new drink options.

carterkostler8 karma

I love hearing stuff like this.. thank you!

12sea212 karma

Might not answer this but:

The amount of water seems really low. What are the bottle sizes? I assume you can also 'mix and match' the different plastic containers (or are they glass?).

carterkostler5 karma

Bottles are made of a BPA FREE plastic. The bottle sizes go 17oz , 12oz, and 7oz.

climboriffico2 karma

Hey good work. Starting some new products and curious about a few aspects. Do you do direct sales or distributors? Can I email you a few more questions as well?

carterkostler5 karma

We do both. and absolutely! contact me through our Facebook page or email off of

climboriffico1 karma

Oh cool. How do you guys deal w exclusivity anx performance clauses

carterkostler2 karma


roastedbagel2 karma

Proof it's you?

carterkostler8 karma

How can I do that?? Im new to this.. haha

roastedbagel3 karma

Take a selfie of you holding a piece of paper with your reddit username written on it.

GreenWhiteDude14 karma

dat flow <3

carterkostler33 karma

Don't know if you are referring to my rap skills or my hair..

GrammarBeImportant7 karma

You wouldn't happen to be Conan O'Brien from the past would you?

carterkostler3 karma

Hahaha Is there REALLY that much of a similarity? Ive been getting that from tons of people and I don't know if its a positive or negative! Still think its funny though..

carterkostler6 karma

alright i did.. and how do i upload that

KarlovFC2 karma

I can't believe you're from Va Beach too! Is your bottle at the Whole Foods near Hilltop?? I'm trying to get a new organic, vegan energy/candy bar I started up into there at some point in the future. I feel like it could be a big hit, people love local.

carterkostler1 karma

Yes it is! & good luck!

phil_in_rdam-5 karma

This looks like you'd be wasting lots of fresh fruit to get, what would taste like fruity-water. Doesn't taste good at all? Even if it gets warm?

Nice idea, but I prefer my dopper.

carterkostler3 karma

Fruit infused water isn't really wasting the fruit since it is infusing your water.. and it tastes great. Cucumber and pineapple are two of my favorites.

phil_in_rdam-9 karma

OK, so you always eat the fruit after you're finished? If not, you're wasting fruit IMHO.

Also, why would I chose that instead of e.g. using fruit syrups?

carterkostler5 karma

I get that question asked quite a bit. My goal is to promote healthier hydration, if the person decides to eat the fruit afterwards they can absolutely do that but i don't know if someone would want to since sometimes the fruit gets soggy and nasty.

carterkostler4 karma

Fruit syrups? interesting.. but i think i'll stick with the real deal.