“If at first you don’t succeed,…” Encouraging advice—in most situations. The thing is, if you don’t succeed on Shark Tank, they don’t send you off with a pat on the back and an “It’s okay, you can try again.” Only a few entrepreneurs have been invited back, and Jason Woods, inventor of the Kymera Body Board, joined this exclusive club. A brave move on his part: the sharks’ responses to him during his first appearance were so brutal that even “take-no-prisoners” Kevin felt bad for him. But not one of them disagreed that a jet-powered body board was a great idea.
When Jason was a teenager living in Napa, CA, he would go to the lake. He couldn’t afford a boat, but even if he could, he couldn’t afford a car to haul the boat, so he watched while boats and jet-skis skimmed this way and that across the water. He noticed that there were others like himself, “shore flowers” who could only watch from the sidelines while others had all the fun. He reasoned that an affordable motorized watercraft, light enough to carry, small enough to fit into an average-sized car was the answer.
Jason had graduated from New Technology High School, had a real passion for product design and had created some clever rockets and robots for class projects. He set up shop in the family garage and spent nearly 10 years developing the Kymera Body Board, financing it himself as he worked as a video, light and sound engineer for corporate events.
To ride the Kymera, lie on the deck padded with neoprene, use a hand trigger to accelerate and decelerate and steer with the hips and feet. It’s that simple. The board can be operated in inches of water. At cruising speed, it’s an alternative to kayaks or canoes. At top speed (around 20 mph), it can race across the top of the water, catch air off breakers or surf the wakes of the “big kids,” the boats and jet skis. Jason’s body board was one of the 10 winners of the “Popular Science 2011 Invention of the Year.” The sharks, however, were not impressed. So Jason went back to the garage.
He redesigned the board for a more hip, eye-catching shape and a hull that controls the displacement of water so that the board lays into the waves rather than slaps into them while making it more agile and stable. He also redesigned the jet drive for greater efficiency and to make it quieter and more environmentally friendly. Jason also decided that two different sizes are needed for the recreational market, two different lengths and two different power options.
A huge step was thinking beyond recreational. With the board’s ability to quietly navigate very shallow bodies of water, aquatic scientists would have unprecedented access to research areas and be able to investigate ecosystems from a totally differently point of view. Fortunately, for both parties, another arena reached out to him: search and rescue teams. The Kymera is less expensive and more convenient than the watercraft currently used for rescue purposes. To properly outfit it, Jason designed additional grab handles and a deck that would fold out as a deployable rescue sled when needed. The rescue model would also be configured to be towed by a boat and/or remotely controlled to bring distressed swimmers to safety. In addition to the ease of transport, the body board could be lowered from a helicopter.
In contrast to not having any sales at the time of his first appearance in 2013, Jason is now partnering with rental operators across the country and currently has distributors in 33 countries.