Keith Gober and Mangled Mascots: All It Takes is One Great Pitch


Mangled Mascots is a brand dedicated to celebrating pet owners and their interests. They create pet toys and merchandise and offer exclusively branded items that you can’t find anywhere else, like specific types of toys for sports fans and their pets.

From toys to leashes to collars to crates, Mangled Mascots is a one stop shop for pet owners. Their business will unveil in the summer of 2020 with a fun spin on common pet items. They aim to celebrate the special bond between pets and owners.

One of the things I love most about working with entrepreneurs is watching someone with nothing more than an idea — no existing business, no sales — secure an investor. And that’s exactly what happened when my client, Keith Gober, turned a no into a yes with the Kevin Harrington team.

Keith’s journey to entrepreneurship began years ago. As a child of the 70s, he grew up in the southern US, living with his family out in the country. He spent his time playing sports and outdoors with the family dogs. As Keith grew, so did his love of both sports and dogs.

Eventually, he went on to marry the love of his life, Robin, and they started a family.  It quickly became apparent that his three children, Steven, Faith and Wesley, all shared the same passion for sports and dogs that he did. It was this shared passion that prompted the children to save up their money to buy a family dog.

The dog they’d chosen was a golden retriever puppy. After meeting him and his siblings, the children ended up falling in love with his sister, Lucy. They decided to bring them both home.

As Lucy and her brother grew up, the family found themselves on what seemed like a never-ending quest to find dog toys that had their favorite team’s logo on it. After checking many big box stores and being unsuccessful, Keith started to wonder why nobody was making pet toys or merchandise like this?

The business idea that would eventually become Mangled Mascots was born.

Making the Leap to Being Viable Business

Like so many entrepreneurs, the road to taking a great idea and turning it into a viable business wasn’t a straight line. Keith wasn’t sure that his idea even had true potential. He knew there would be big hurdles to getting his vision to become an established company. Plus, he knew that he’d need to get big licensing deals for it to be even possible. As someone without experience in the field, he didn’t have a clue where to even begin with those sorts of discussions or negotiations.

The entire process was a foreign concept to Keith. He just couldn’t figure out how the average person could break through and secure licensing deals with some of the world’s largest brands.

After several years of wondering how to make it happen, Keith found himself with an opportunity to pitch his idea to Kevin Harrington’s company. At the time, he was told the idea wasn’t likely to be accepted, and so he was rejected.

But that opportunity gave Keith the push he needed to decide to try and make Mangled Mascots a viable business, instead of just a fun idea for his family.

Crafting the Perfect Pitch

In October of 2019, I met Keith at a Pitch Investor event, and after that we kept in touch. Not too long after we met, Keith unexpectedly found another avenue to reach Kevin Harrington for a pitch. This time, he wanted to make sure he was ready! He asked me to do a pitch consult for him. I guided him through the process — what he should and shouldn’t include, what things he should highlight and how.

During our conversation, a few of the key suggestions I made included:

  • Be clear about which industries you’re touching — pet owners, college sports fans, and pro sports fans.
  • Talk about the schedule. The schedule was going to be a phased approach. For each step, there should be a timeline attached to show momentum.
  • Explain the strategy. Keith needed to speak about how this idea had been under consideration for years. He was excited to get the ball rolling. He was going to highlight his own entrepreneurial background to demonstrate that he has a good eye for opportunities.

Equipped with everything he needed to know to make his pitch stand out, one week after we met, Keith had a 30-minute phone call with Kevin. He sealed the deal!

Within a month, the contracts were finalized and Mangled Mascot was officially in motion with support from Kevin’s investment.

The Deal is Done, What Happens Next?  

Now that Keith had secured his investor, he needed to nail down exactly what his brand was all about.

Mangled Mascots’ would manufacture high quality products for dogs and be a full-service brand that has a strong philanthropic angle. Keith wanted to create a business that’s fun, spirited, and that celebrates a sense of community. By creating pet products with protagonist and antagonist labels, like competing sports teams, the business can encourage connection between pet owners with fanatical interests. This is likely to foster a sense of community and lighthearted sportsmanship.

Making things in the USA was also an important goal for him. Kevin has been able to help connect Keith with the relationships needed to make that happen. Being stateside means the business will be able to focus on domestic production to facilitate local jobs and ensure quality.

A Family Affair

One of Keith’s greatest joys through the process of bringing Mangled Mascots to life has been sharing the journey with his family.

His wife Robin has played an integral role in the business, acting as Keith’s partner. Robin has been instrumental in creating the branding and design, coming up with product names and other ideas. She holds a vital position in business as well as acting as his prayer partner and key support person.

The children are some of the brand’s biggest promoters. Their participation includes wearing the brand’s shirts and telling everyone they know about the products.

Philanthropy is a central value of the family. They care deeply about those who are hit by devastation, whether natural or otherwise. Mangled Mascots commits to being a business that gives back to the less fortunate.

This year, the Mangled Mascots brand donated shirts and volunteer hours to help tornado disaster victims. As the business grows into the next chapter, they plan to amplify these efforts. Mangled Mascots intends to continuously give back through charitable drives and volunteer efforts.

The Future Looks Bright

Today, the business is in the market of manufacturing pet toys, and accessories. Mangled Mascots is finalizing licensing deals that will allow the company to scale and corner the market in a very unique way that no other competitor could match.

These deals are expected to close by the end of summer 2020. This will allow the business to take things to a whole new level.

Thanks to the deal with Kevin, the project has new credibility and momentum, and doors are opening. The business is able to keep manufacturing in the USA, something that was critically important to Keith. Hurdles that would’ve otherwise stopped business growth are being cleared with the help of Kevin, his connections, and mentorship.

Although COVID-19 did slow down plans somewhat, thanks to having the right partner, Mangled Mascots is still able to move forward at a strategic pace.

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