The Varsity Athlete Who Needed Tougher Equipment
Founder: Gladiator Lacrosse
If you can’t find the product you need, invent it. That’s what Rachel Zietz did. The result: Gladiator Lacrosse, the ambitious Boca Raton, Fla., teen’s premium line of durable lacrosse equipment.
“It’s never too young to start,” she tells Entrepreneur. “I started when I was 13, and it was successful. Most people are afraid, but if you’re passionate about it, you’re never too young.”
The varsity athlete and high school sophomore honors student launched her sporty startup in 2013, largely out of frustration. Despite searching in stores and online, she was unable to get her hands on lacrosse gear that was sturdy enough to withstand rigorous practice on repeat.
“For me, if there’s a problem, there’s also an opportunity,” she told the Sun Sentinel.
Rachel’s parents and younger brother are also entrepreneurs, so she scored in business right out of the gate. In her first year, she racked up $200,000 in revenue. A year later, she was on track to bank $1 million in earnings.
Look out for the talented Young Entrepreneurs Academy graduate when she faces the “Sharks” on ABC’s Shark Tank, May 13 at 9 p.m. ET. You bet we’ll be watching — and pulling for her.
Rachel’s favorite part of being a kidpreneur:
“I believe the best part is that I am able to pursue something that I love [business] and can inspire others that you are never too young to accomplish your dream. Also, it is amazing to run the day-to-day operations of the company and it is great to see the looks on people’s faces when they realize who is running the company!”
Rachel’s advice for aspiring kidpreneurs:
“My advice to any aspiring young entrepreneurs is to make sure whatever you do, you are passionate about it. Passion is the key to success and it is what drives you to work through obstacles and challenges in your way.”
Only 2 percent of women-owned businesses break $1 million in revenue, so 15-year-old Rachel Zietz decided to make hers one of them.
Fifteen-year-old entrepreneur Rachel Zietz spends late nights and early mornings on business video calls with her product factory in China. Sometimes she’ll squeeze in a nap on the bus ride to school in Fort Lauderdale. But more likely, the high school sophomore uses that time to do homework, since her afternoons are busy with lacrosse practice for one of the three teams she’s a part of.
The Boca Raton native owns Gladiator Lacrosse, which aims to sell higher-quality, lower-cost equipment than competitors. Rachel, who has been playing lacrosse since the fourth grade, felt the goals and rebounders she practiced with at home would too easily rust and tear. Not to mention, she was spending up to $230 every few months to replace broken equipment—way more than a teenager like herself could afford. “Whenever there’s a problem, that really means an opportunity,” she says.
So, Rachel turned her longtime passion into a lucrative business. She launched Gladiator Lacrosse as a middle school student in 2013 after developing the idea through the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. She sells rebounders ($159.95)—a trampoline-like net wall used to practice throwing and catching skills—and goals ($79.95) built to last a couple of years, primarily through her online store, gladiatorlacrosse.com. She has also launched her products at select retail stores.
Last year, the company earned more than $1 million in revenue, garnering Rachel recognition from Gov. Rick Scott, who heard about the business after Rachel introduced herself at a local event; he later honored her with Florida’s Young Entrepreneur Award.
When Rachel first launched the company, she set the goal of selling 500 units total. To her surprise, she’s selling at least 500 a month. Now her ultimate goal is to make Gladiator Lacrosse the brand everyone is using.
How’d she get to this point? The teenager found out that only 2 percent of women-owned businesses reach the $1 million mark and decided to do something about it. “I was like, ‘Well, that’s got to change. … It says right here that no one can do it, so we have to do it,” she recalls.
Of course, there was more than a spur-of-the-moment decision at play. Rachel is competitive—both on the lacrosse field and in the business world—and has a keen sense of determination. Those two qualities make her a successful entrepreneur. It also doesn’t hurt that Rachel was born into an innovative, business-savvy family. Her parents are seasoned entrepreneurs themselves, and her younger brother has also caught the bug, founding GameReef, a video game console rental company.
When Rachel first started selling Gladiator Lacrosse products at local tournaments—a marketing strategy none of her competitors were using at the time—she was hesitant to leave her booth and go out and get customers.
“They’ll come if they’re interested,” she thought. But, her father would teach her that customers don’t know they’re interested until you show them the product. She’s learned that in business, just as in lacrosse, you need good “field vision” to act selflessly and assess the situation from other perspectives.
“It takes a lot of guts to go up to someone not knowing what’s going to come out of that, but I definitely got over my fear,” she says.
With that kind of mentorship and encouragement from her father, Rachel has turned into the type of young woman who’s bold enough to walk up to a professional lacrosse legend and pitch him a business partnership.
After spotting Major League Lacrosse player Casey Powell at a South Florida tournament, she approached the athlete to ask if he’d be interested in collaborating with Gladiator Lacrosse.
“When I went up to talk to him, like many other people, he was surprised that I was running the business so young,” she says.
Together, they launched a Casey Powell signature edition line of ultra-durable rebounders and goals. And it doesn’t end there. The budding businesswoman gave her elevator pitch to the cast of “Shark Tank” last summer. The episode will air on May 13.
Now when Rachel walks into business meetings with older execs, she wears heels and a power color like red, and remembers she has her own experiences to bring to the table.
“I knew I always wanted to do this. I just didn’t realize I could do it this young,” she says.
Gladiator Lacrosse, LLC Unveils The Casey Powell Signature Collection, Its Superior Product Line of Practice Equipment
The highly anticipated Casey Powell Product Line maintains the brand’s dedication to producing the highest quality performance practice equipment by combining professional-grade and premium materials.
Gladiator Lacrosse and Casey Powell, currently a major league player for the Florida Launch, announce the successful release of their latest high-caliber product line: The Casey Powell Signature Collection. The all-new Casey Powell Signature Edition Lacrosse Goal and Casey Powell Signature Edition Wall Rebounder not only break training barriers for their first-of-its-kind performance and elegant design features, but also draw inspirational cues from the legacy of Casey Powell.
The Casey Powell Signature Collection is designed to fit the needs of today’s elite lacrosse athletes with never before used black-on-black textiles and premium elements, making the collection one of the top performing practice equipment offered today. The Casey Powell Signature Edition Lacrosse Rebounder is a durable 4’ x 3’ rebounder designed for beginners-to-advanced players and comes complete with an exclusive Casey Powell Training Guide to help players practice and improve their lacrosse skills. The Casey Powell Signature Edition Lacrosse Goal is composed of a premium 6mm braided polyester professional-grade net designed with a sturdy snap-piece frame and a lacing cord made for easy assembly. Both Signature Collection items include a Casey Powell Training Guide to maximize practice sessions with the use of the equipment. “The emphasis for the training guides were to remind players that a conditioned lacrosse athlete obtains skillfulness through dedicated practice sessions,” said Casey Powell. “The handbook is a reflection of my own personal training techniques that have helped my aiming precision and perfected my shots.”
The international lacrosse icon Casey Powell and the CEO of Gladiator Lacrosse wanted to create industry-leading practice equipment that encourages today’s athletes to rethink performance and emphasize the importance of training with durable, professional-grade equipment. “The Casey Powell Collection continues the tradition of setting the benchmark for superior design and performance,” said Rachel Zietz, CEO and Founder of Gladiator Lacrosse. “As a growing brand, Casey Powell and I recognized that lacrosse athletes want and need equipment that is truly an extension of their sophisticated style, without affecting the quality and overall product performance.”
For Gladiator Lacrosse, continuing to set a new standard for performance innovation is one of the results of working alongside brand ambassador Casey Powell. Casey Powell Signature Edition products are revolutionizing the lacrosse market, and players around the world are now able to purchase this exclusive equipment online.
It’s that time of year again; time to dig out your pens, pencils and notebooks from the back of your closet that haven’t been used in months. Going back to school has a certain air of excitement; you compare your schedule to your closest friends’, prepare for try-outs, and buy stylish 3-ring binders for your AP classes. While going back to school means it is the end of your vacation-laden summer, it is also another year to better yourself. Here are my suggestions for making the most of your school year:
Many people often wonder if there are lacrosse related drills and games they can play/practice to improve their basic lacrosse skills. I am happy to report a list of some of the most fun and successful drills you can do by yourself, with your Official Lacrosse Rebounder, or with friends, to take your game to the next level.