10 Q’s With Geoff Koboldt Of BambooSk8
Growth, in terms of business, is necessary in order to survive. Some times, and in many markets, that growth can come at too high a cost to the environment. Geoff Koboldt of BambooSk8 is a highly conscious individual who’s actively growing business attacks these concerns. You might even call him an activist, and not just an entrepreneur. This is why we are pleased to feature him and his company in this weeks : “10 Q’s With…”; our question and answer series that’s aimed at offering insight to our readers who are interested in the ‘Adventure’ of becoming: The Boss.
Q. Tell our readers about your business, your passion, and what it is that you do? What’s your story? And what sets you apart from other businesses in your particular market?
“Skateboarding is the fastest rising sport in the USA over the past 10 years. With that exponential growth is the irresponsibility of producing products with very little regard for the environment as skateboarding is at the top of charts for its contribution to maple deforestation in North America. BambooSK8 was established in 2008 to break that paradigm of maple deforestation to that of using bamboo, from managed forests. Bamboo grows in abundance and once a bamboo chute is cut down, 4 to 5 new ones grow in its place, unlike a maple tree, which once it’s cut down after 40-50 years, it’s gone forever. Therefore, the yield of bamboo which only requires 3-4 years trumps that of maple, along with providing less soil erosion, more oxygen, etc.”
Q. What inspired you take the steps to becoming your own boss? Is this your first/only business?
“Quite honestly, I am too rebellious for corporate-America culture with all their rules and policies; it’s just not my cup of tea. I never really liked the idea of working hard for another company whose leaders I didn’t respect only to then have my little employee id put into a computer at the end of the year to tell me what my bonus would be. My first business, which I supplemented to my 9-5 corporate gigs, was my music management company Out of Step Entertainment. BambooSK8 is my first attempt at really cutting the umbilical cord and just going for it on my own. I took no pay for my first year as I reinvested the money back into the business I would have taken out.”
Q. How much planning was involved prior to the start-up of your business? Can you offer some insight into that process?
“To be honest, not enough planning was involved because we failed miserably at first. Looking back, we should have done a lot more market research to ensure that the timing was right, more R&D to ensure the quality was top-notch, ensured we had backup suppliers if one factory had issues, etc. It was definitely difficult to forecast a new product when the entire industry is made from a different resource but we did our best based on our industry experience. For the most part, you just take things one step at a time and don’t hedge too much risk. Another important thing is to always be aware of your opportunity costs.”
“I would be bored if it were the same every day. Lucky for me, every day brings a few new set of challenges so I wake up asking first and foremost – What needs to be done? I physically start my day around 9:30am-10am, but my preparation was already done the night before for exactly what 90% of my day will be like. Knowing that time is my most limited resource, I start with those activities that I know are most crucial to a small business (approximately in this order) – sales, finance/cash flow, marketing, operations, etc. A lot of time is spent coaching, inspiring and mentoring my team ensuring that they are dialing in the process. Literally every activity of our business has a structured and streamlined process with an appropriate SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). I’ll usually break around 1-3 to go to the gym and then back to the grind to close out operations for the day by 6pm. The rest of the evening way into the early hours of 2-3am, I find I get the best work done because it’s quiet, so I work at random times – all depending on the workload. Lucky for me, I’m having so much fun it never truly feels like work. To make sure I have balance in my life, I meditate daily. Also, to ensure I don’t get burnt out, I take enough vacations throughout the year to recharge my battery. Since I live in LA while our company is in Oceanside, most of my communication is done via SKYPE. I travel down to Oceanside every other week via the train and spend a good week there.”
Q. How many employees do you have and what went into hiring on more to your team?
“We are lean and mean. There are 3 awesome owners then 2 full-time employees; warehouse manager and operations manager, 1 contracted marketing director and 7 interns. All of our employees first had to survive our 4 month internship (absolutely the best internship program in action sports) and prove that they had what it takes to be at the top of their class. In order to get into the internship, they had to demonstrate a passion for action sports, respect for the environment, have a solid business degree and a positive attitude/outlook driven by values.”
Q. What has been the most challenging part of your entrepreneurial adventure?
“It’s hard to say that one challenge is any worse or better than the other as they all seem to exist harmoniously at different times; little to no pay, 70-80 hour work weeks in the beginning, competitive rivalry, quality issues, slow growth, cash flow issues to name a few. Nonetheless, I would have to say that for us it would be in the shear time it takes to grow the business organically and the frustration that comes with educating the consumer on something that should just be as obvious as the right choice but yet it isn’t so easy. For now, it’s one fan at a time…one skateboard at a time… as we grow organically while keeping our street credibility with a very limited marketing budget and a whole lot of creativity.”
“For me, it’s the pride in knowing that I have created good American jobs for employees who are proud to come to work every day and feel great about the products and the brand they represent; a brand driven by my vision. Equally important, we also have created jobs somewhere else in the world that has helped individuals arise from poverty.”
Q. What motivates you? What keeps you going each day?
“For the most part because I truly believe in what our company is doing and trust that my life has a meaningful purpose. I find such joy in knowing that our products are better for the environment and that I am doing something that universally benefits the world. I am a part of the solution that will forever change the $5 billion skateboard industry. Also, being responsible for the higher development of my employees and interns and forever shaping not only their business careers but their personal lives is the legacy I want to leave. Shaping these young skateboarders lives is another major motivator. We don’t just sell them a skateboard. We are active in helping them with learning new tricks, helping them with issues they might be facing at school or at home, or just simply being a friend to them. When I look back at kids who were 8 or 9 years old and I gave them their first sponsorship and now they are winning top am contests and clearly on their way to being the next big pro, that’s a very amazing feeling. Especially when they are an A student and positive role models for other little kids.”
Q. How do you promote your business? Advertise? Endorse? Contests? Social networking?
“Word of mouth, guerilla marketing and street promotion is by far the best methods thus far. We refused to advertise in any traditional print magazine simply because the values aren’t in line with our ecological efforts. Most of the communication about our product and company comes straight from our website at www.bamboosk8.com but we utilize social media to the fullest; doing our best to keep them all tied together so that our brand message is consistent. We are engaged in the numerous social communities for action sports, one of which is hookit.com, which we’ve been one of the top featured skate brands for many years now. Also last summer, we were out on the Vans Warped Tour for 43 dates so we definitely utilize the tie-in of music and action sports. In fact, we’re releasing our 2nd music compilation this summer in collaboration with Out of Step Entertainment. The reach of these artists alone is in the millions. We attend a variety of events not limited to the Maloof Money Cup, ASEC, X-games, Dew Tour, local surf/skate events, etc.”
Q. Has the Internet or social media helped/hurt your business?
“Definitely helped! Our company is so young that we didn’t really have to adapt, it’s always been this way and we truly believe that technology of the future will further drive greater results.”
Q. What advice do you have to those reading www.bossstart.com that you feel is valuable?
“There is no in-between when it comes to being an entrepreneur, you either want it or you don’t. If you aren’t good at kicking your own ass, then it’s probably not the right choice. You have to be disciplined!”
To learn more about Geoff Koboldt & BambooSK8, please visit:
About the Author: Daniel Ballard
Daniel is a Writer and Entrepreneur. He is Co-Founder/Main Author/Editor of BossStart and Co-Editor/Featured Author for BossStart's sister site, PauseStart, launching early 2012
|Join in on the News|
|Recieve adivce from unique and successful entreprenuers, tips and strategies delivered straight to your inbox!|