In September 2015, the month off between (regular) jobs, I made a ton of progress with development of the TradePaddleboards.com site. Like most boot-strapped start ups I outsourced my development of the site to an overseas contractor who I worked closely with every night. The site was coming together well and my vision for a site where buyers and sellers of paddle boards could meet and conduct their business was filling out nicely.
But what about developing the actual business? This was something that I knew nothing about and had to find some guidance. Here is where the paddle board community first came to my rescue (and has many times since) by giving me the great fortune of meeting somebody special, Pete Sterling.
I first met Pete back in 2009 or 2010 at a Jay Race in Santa Cruz. We ended up sharing a beer and then I called him up in 2011 to grovel for a room in his Molokai house for that years M2O race. Without really knowing me (beyond that one beer and my Ghostryders Watermans Club crew) Pete was extremely welcoming on Molokai (to show my thanks I let him beat me by 15 minutes in the race 😃 ) and we kept in loose touch over the years as he grew an amazing company in Watermans Sunscreen.
To seek help with the TradePaddleboards.com business, I reached out to Pete (only slightly groveling this time) for his input. I think it was within a few minutes of me sending the first email that we were on the phone discussing the idea and potential business of a paddle board marketplace. Pete spent a ton of time helping me to consider various business model options, connecting me with people to learn more from, and sharing really great ideas. Pete opened my eyes to the fact that retailers, distributors, and manufacturers maintain a relatively large inventory of used, ding’d, and overstock boards and are in need of a sales channel to move them. The lightbulb turned on…
This concept added a massive new dimension to the TradePaddleboards.com marketplace where not only could the public buy boards from each other, they could also find reduced cost boards from retailers and brands. As a neutral platform, the retailers and brands could sell their secondary inventory on TradePaddleboards without risk of damaging the overall new board market – this was a win-win all around.
Now the underlying business was really starting to take shape but just because it sounded good, didn’t necessarily mean that it was good. I still considered this a hypothesis that needed to be proven. I had to go out and validate the model first-hand to be sure this idea of a marketplace that connects the public with secondary inventory from retailers and brands was viable. And to do that I needed to meet with retailers and manufacturers to put our hypothesis to the test.
The story continues in the Building a Paddleboard Marketplace — Part 3.