Peoria company starts in garage, goes viral

Success on Shark Tank spurs founders

Posted 1/29/23

The mythology launching a company out of one’s garage isn’t exclusive to Silicone Valley.

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Peoria company starts in garage, goes viral

Success on Shark Tank spurs founders


The mythology launching a company out of one’s garage isn’t exclusive to Silicone Valley.

Another rising start-up known as Noggin Boss was born in a garage as well — this one located just off Lake Pleasant Parkway and Happy Valley Road in the in Querencia community.

With a nice push from a famous reality television show, the company is now turning heads from many corners of the country. Just scroll down social media or visit a local sporting event, and you are bound to come across one of their over-sized hats.

Gabe Cooper and Sean Starner got into the hat game a few years ago because they wanted to bring something new to the world of promotion. Cooper said there has been nothing new in the promotional space since the foam finger, which hit the scene more than 50 years ago.

“We wanted to give people a way to promote what they love, so we created the world’s first, high quality, fully customizable hat,” Cooper said.

People have been responding.

In recent months, Noggin Boss products were sported by members of the Georgia football team at the SEC championship trophy presentation, as well as Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen on Monday Night Football. Add to that a large number of NFL and ESPN broadcast teams have requested them for their shows, and dozens of sports teams have been asking for Noggins for their players.

Cooper said the company is pursuing licensing and has a list of opportunities for a number of big upcoming events — including the Super Bowl — leading up to spring training.

Even Peoria Mayor-elect Jason Beck used a hat to promote his campaign leading up to the election.

“There is no one else doing this and it brings so much joy to others,” Cooper said. “It’s so humbling to see the support from everyone.”

The journey of these milliners of the new age began in 2019, when Starner and Cooper began working out of his garage, and then launched in February 2020 at the Waste Management Open, turning heads at the golf course.

Cooper and Starner were ready to jump on that success with spring training waiting in the wings, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and, like everything else, the hats stalled.

But Cooper said they used that time to hustle and innovate a new service for customers to create Noggins for business owners and/or charities, as well as made phone calls to buyers for promotional teams and licensed teams that paid off in big dividends.

Then in March 2022, Starner and Cooper earned a spot on season 13 of Shark Tank, the long running business reality TV show, that positions fresh entrepreneurs in front of investors who have the ability to invest in startups or products.

The two struck pay dirt when apparel magnate Daymond John offered the company $50,000 for a 30% stake in Noggin Boss, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban verbally agreed to sell their hats with the team logo in the team’s store, in what has been touted as the quickest deal ever made on Shark Tank.

Philip Haldiman can be reached at, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.