A White Bear Lake inventor accepted an offer from an Olympian on a CNBC show called “Adventure Capitalists.”
Tom Roering, owner and founder of The Wilcraft company, appeared on an episode of the show Nov. 14. The Wilcraft is an amphibious ice fishing vehicle Roering invented 11 years ago. Olympian Bode Miller, an alpine ski racer, offered Roering $400,000 for 20 percent equity in his company. Miller also negotiated a board seat along with preferred share voting rights, ultimately giving him control of the company.
The offer values The Wilcraft at $2 million.
A news release provided by Katie Roering, Tom’s daughter-in-law, says the investment will be used to increase inventory, plan and execute a marketing plan, and hire key personnel to grow the company.
“It was a great honor to have been selected to participate on ‘Adventure Capitalist,’” said Roering, who headquarters in North St. Paul. “It was an incredible experience to have worked with such talented professionals. We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.”
“Adventure Capitalists” is designed to give entrepreneurs the chance to showcase their products in the environment it was designed for, which, in The Wilcraft’s case, is ice.
Roering took two Wilcrafts to Banff, Canada last April to give potential investors, including Miller, a chance to test the craft before starting negotiations. Two gave offers, with Roering choosing Miller. Producers were so impressed with the vehicle, noted the release, that they used it to help film a segment of the show featuring another product.
Miller has won six Olympic medals and 33 individual FIS Alpine Ski World Cup races in all five racing disciplines. He has been involved in several companies, most notably Aztech Mountain, a performance sportswear company with its roots in skiing. Roering considers his new partner a great fit for his company. “His knowledge and understanding of the ice fishing culture was very evident. His laid-back personality mirrors ours; he is someone we will enjoy working with.”
The Wilcraft has been manufactured since 2005 as a way to ice fish more conveniently and safely.
If the ice is thin, it floats, and has the ability to climb back onto the ice. The vehicle also has an insulated enclosure that sets up in seconds. Depending on the package, prices range from $16,500 to $23,700 for the ice/hunt model, complete with camo blind.
Optimistic about its future, Roering said the company has experienced double-digit growth over each of the last couple years, noting that weather conditions are “playing into our hands.”