Posted at April 26, 2016

Building a Paddle Board Marketplace — Part 1

My journey to build a paddle board marketplace – working in Silicon Valley, seeing an opportunity to work with my passion, and making it a reality.

So it started in the Fall of 2015 when I was stuck in traffic on my drive to work.

I had been toying with a number of business ideas that blend paddle boarding (my passion) with high tech (my career) when the idea to build a marketplace for SUP and prone paddle boards popped into my head.

paddleboard marketplace

It was one of those very rare moments of clarity we have (at least for me) where an idea makes total sense.

And, even better, I thought it may just be viable enough to get me out of the 9-5 grind of Silicon Valley.

The Opportunity

First, the pain this would solve is immense.

Almost nobody I know in the Santa Cruz paddle scene has a success story about quickly or easily selling their board through Craigslist or Facebook.

Molokai 2 Oahu -- Portlock Point

Most of us have to sell a board before buying our next which can be agonizing when you know the exact board you want but have to wait weeks to sell yours first. Searching for a board is also a challenge requiring constant visits to Craigslist and massive determination to scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll through pages of ads.

Second, I know how to build a site like this. For the past 15 years I’ve been building websites and software (yikes that’s a long time) and have the technology and people required to create something awesome.

So the whole idea made sense from the start and I began to get really excited about it.

Getting to Work

selling paddleboard online

For the next few evenings I spent time figuring out a basic business model and planning my approach to building the site. It would be a pretty big project and take quite a bit of time since I already had 40+ hours per week at my job but I knew that there was something ‘real’ for me at the end.

Then I got fired.

My company had just pulled in a ton of new funding and decided that my group was no longer needed.

In a matter of hours I was handed my walking papers, a 1-month severance check, and escorted out the door. On my way home I called a friend to lament who said straight up to me, “This could be the best thing that has ever happened to you”.

And it was.

buying paddleboard online

I now had 5 weeks of dedicated time to build the foundation of my online marketplace for paddle boards while looking for a new job (and getting a bunch of rad Fall waves and glassy paddle days). I set to it right away and by the time my severance ran out I had found a new (better) 9-5 job and laid the business and technical foundation for the marketplace.

Building the Site

paddleboard marketplace

What happened next?

These first few slightly scary steps led to the birth of But like raising any child, there were many lessons to learn ahead…

Read more in Part 2.



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