Even before entering school, Rachel has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. At four years old, she ran lemonade stands in her family home’s yard in Boca Raton, Florida, and even sold her siblings’ stuffed animals to her other siblings! It certainly didn’t hurt matters that her parents, Sam and Sheila Zietz, were and still are entrepreneurs themselves, running a financial technology company called TouchSuite.
Rachel Zietz began to play lacrosse in the fifth grade, and before long, her competitive nature propelled her to playing on high level teams. Determined to improve her game, she would dedicate long hours to practice, both with her team and in her own backyard. She soon became frustrated with the poor quality of practice lacrosse equipment available. The re-bounders and goals that she purchased were costly and would fall apart quickly, necessitating new $230 purchases every few months.
So, at only 13 years old, Rachel decided to take matters in her own hand and start her own company that would produce high quality lacrosse equipment at an affordable price point. Rachel Zietz entered a 33 week course at the Young Entrepreneurs’ Academy run by the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, and learned the basics in starting and managing a business.
She launched Gladiator Lacrosse in 2013, developed her first product by the end of that year, and obtained her next sale by the next year. Business exceeded her expectations and the first container of product (containing 500 units) was sold out within four months. The company continued to grow, achieving $200 000 in sales in its first year of operation. By 2015, Rachel’s business had an annual revenue greater than $1 million, a feat that only 2% of female-owned businesses managed to accomplish.
Media interest in the company started to pick up, and representatives from Shark Tank contacted Rachel Zietz about appearing on their show. An episode was taped, wherein Rachel delivered a pitch for Gladiator Lacrosse, asking the Sharks for a $100,000 investment in return for a 15% share in the business. The Sharks ultimately turned down the offer as they believed she would be more successful by retaining full ownership of her company. Nevertheless, Rachel found the show appearance to be a positive and validating experience, as the Sharks were thoroughly impressed with Rachel’s business acumen and thought she was on the right path. The Shark Tank appearance had other perks too. After the episode aired in May 2016, interest in Gladiator Lacrosse exploded. Traffic to the website shot up, and calls started flooding in from retailers and venture capital companies. With the extra publicity, Gladiator Lacrosse is now on track to earn over $2 million in sales in 2016, and is projected to have $10 million in sales in 2017.
The business has also expanded its product line. It has grown from only offering two products, a lacrosse re-bounder and goal, to now offering 19 products, which includes a clothing line and a premium equipment line represented by top professional lacrosse athlete, Casey Powell. Rachel’s goal is to become the go-to brand for practice lacrosse equipment, hoping to one day dominate the $100 million market. She is already on her way there – Gladiator Lacrosse products are consistently Amazon #1 bestsellers. Rachel Zietz has become an expert at prioritizing her time effectively.
Now as a junior in high school, she maintains a 4.59 GPA while enrolling in AP classes, participating in extracurricular activities, playing on multiple state-level and national level lacrosse teams, and all the while acting as CEO of her own multi-million dollar company. She has been featured on USA Today, Entrepreneur, Fort Lauderdale Daily, South Florida Business Journal, and Forbes. Time Magazine named her as of the most influential teen in 2016 and she was also one of Fortune Magazine’s 18 Entrepreneurs under 18. Rachel Zietz has been awarded with the Boca Chamber’s Diamond Award and received Florida’s Young Entrepreneurs Award in 2016.