Helping Surfers Ride The Waves with Handboards – Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards
INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 46:41)
INTERVIEW VIDEO (ADBRIDGED VERSION) (Length – 25:28)[sc name=”sponsors”]
In this episode, Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards (Co-founder and Chief Ryde Officer) shares the startup story of Slyde Handboards, challenges educating the market of a new product concept in surfing, financing and growing the business, working with Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher through Shark Tank, and the decision to start a shoe company to supplement revenue in the offseason.
People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode
- Shark Tank
- San Diego Sports Innovators Springboard Program
- Mark Cuban
- Ashton Kutcher
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Twiggy Baker
- Sean Enoka
- Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses – Babson College
- Veldskoen Shoes
- Elizabeth Granados, House of NOA
- How I Built This with Guy Raz
What You’ll Learn
Interview with Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards
- (2010) Could you please share the startup story of Slyde Handboards? How did you come up with the idea and prototype? How did you know there would be a market of this product?
- (2013) What was it like getting into a business relationship while you had a personal relationship (even before getting married)? Money many times have a negative effect on friendships and relationships, how did you manage that at the beginning? Was that a sign of a strong personal relationship?
- Could you share a bit about the prototyping and testing the product?
- Does a product like this require patents to prevent it from being copied by others?
- What kind of investment went into getting the business started before Shark Tank (personal investment, Russell Ellers, Mitchell Cox). Was most of the investment towards prototyping and manufacturing?
- You were part of the San Diego Sports Innovators Springboard program. Could you please share what that program was about and how did it help you?
- How did you make you first sales? Were you purely Ecommerce only before you got the Shark Tank deal?
- Could you share a bit about your initial marketing and PR efforts? What was most effective in getting the word out?
- How did you find the right manufacturer for Slyde?
- One of the big challenges you faced is educating the market of the new product – what has worked best for you in terms of educating the market?
- What was the reasoning behind going on Shark Tank (you were successful in 3rd attempt?)
- Valuation 200K for 20%, how?
- What is it like working with Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher? What kind of opportunities has been opened as a result of working with them?
- Do you find that the market/sales for this product is higher around the beaches or warmer places? Is there a seasonality effect to sales?
- What channels are you currently selling through? What has been the process like of getting into retail?
- How do you fulfill your Ecommerce orders? Amazon FBA?
- What does your team look like right now?
- What are some of the marketing and PR efforts right now that are helping you to educate the market, acquire new customers and drive sales?
- Do you want to add more product offerings in the future?
- Could you share a bit about your Social Media and Content strategy (photographers) and User Generated Content? Is Social Media a big driver of traffic and sales?
- What are some of the ways you are building a community around the sport and product?
- Are you focusing mostly on building an international market now?
- What has been 1 or 2 of the biggest mistakes you have made since starting your business? What lessons can others learn from your mistakes
In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards
- One book that you would recommend to entrepreneurs/business professionals in 2020 and why? (Response: How I Built This with Guy Raz)
- A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend? (Response: Shopify)
- A startup or business (in ecommerce, retail, or tech) that you think is currently doing great things? (Response: Veldskoen Shoes and House of Noah)
- Best business advice you ever received or you would give.(Response: You need to work more than your competitors, or they’re going to beat you.)
Sushant Misra : Hey there entrepreneurs My name is Sushant and welcome to Trep Talks. This is the show where I interview successful ecommerce entrepreneurs, business executives and thought leaders and ask them questions about their business story and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their businesses. And today I’m really excited to welcome Angela watts to the show. Angela is the CO owner and chief ride Officer of slide and boards. Slide handbooks are body surfing handbooks that are easy to learn for any age or skill level. They’re strapped to your hand and give you more lift, speed and control when body surfing. And today I want to ask Angela a few questions about her entrepreneurial story and some of the strategies and tactics that she has used to grow. bonus. So really appreciate your time to Angela. And thanks for joining us today. Trep Talks.
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Thanks for having me. I’m excited to share my story.
Sushant Misra : Yeah, so you have a very interesting title chief ride officer, I’m very interested to know what that means. What do you do? And how did you get involved with flight and boards?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Yeah, so along with the title, we just, you know, we don’t like to take ourselves too seriously here, you know, we’re surf company, and we like to have fun So, but chief ride officers, basically, you know, when we started off as kind of like a little bit of everything, so I had that title when I was packing boxes, and then also working on getting investment. So it’s really just, you know, are taking kids out to the beach and demoing board. So, but really now it’s more of like an operational and executive like CEO role of what it’s, you know, really turned into But yeah, and how I got into it was my now has been Steve has been surfing his whole life since he was a kid. And one of the ways he would surf for wave was body surfing and making these like improvised hand boards. And then he knew it was something that he always wanted to do and make it into a brand. Because there was no brand doing this and really taking it to the next level. And then, you know, he’s a surfer and designer and creative. So when I met him, he was already about a year and a half or two years into slide as a business and doing it on his own. And I just it was kind of an easy like, hey, let me let me help you with this. Let me do this. Let me do that. Like, from first it was just the financial aspects and then you know, then just helping shipping and things like that. And then just turned into, okay, well, I’ll quit my job and help you with this full time.
Sushant Misra : So handball This is like this was completely new concept when your husband came up with the idea so people were improvising with little object like things, but there wasn’t really a product like this out in the market at that time.
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : So somewhat so you know, people always use some sort of improvise board like the Polynesians, you know, used to use like pieces of wood and the Hawaiians would use fast food trays. And there has been companies in the 70s that like in the 70s, called the hand gun that you know, was Body Body Glove came out with, but they just never, you know, put a lot of effort into making a real brand around it, and sticking through it and making it like something Really cool that people wanted to be a part of. So it’s always been around in some form or shape. But no one’s like you said hasn’t taken it to a level that we have,
Sushant Misra : until I know that yours have been at a background of a product designer. So what was the value that he brought to this was the unique design and from his own experience, what the board can do from the design perspective?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Definitely. So, um, you know, I think that what made us unique and slightly unique and successful is that product design background he went when he went to school for product design, he knew CES specifically that he wanted to start slide so he went and got that education, and then also just the design aspect of like making a brand so I think it’s between the product and the brand and being able to telecoils story, making it I think the branding is something that’s really important to our success.
Sushant Misra : One thing that I found very interesting was that you know, you so you joined you know, so you and Steve, you know, got into a relationship and then, you know, you started helping him one thing that I was very curious to know, you know, whenever there’s like this a personal relationship and then if you start getting into financial kind of relationship where you know, you’re getting into a business kind of relationship, does that have any effect on like, the personal side, like, you know, now you’re talking about dollars and cents, and you know, how much equity one is owning and things like that. So I’m very curious to know how did you manage your personal relationship especially like you No, one would be worried that, you know, what if there’s something happens to the relationship and now you’re stuck in business relationship. So can you share a few thoughts of you know, that was was that a conversation that you were having at that time? Or
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : we didn’t really have that conversation, it really just worked for us we have very two distinct different skill sets. So because we’re very opposite in what we’re good at, we kind of just love each other focus on those two things. But it definitely has it I mean, it can be good for your relationship, or it can be bad for us. It’s good because we’re both very passionate about it and want to succeed. You know, so, you know, when Steve is working late nights, I, I understand why he’s doing it and so, me not being involved in you know, not understanding why he’s not home at night. You know, I, I’ll want him to be it’ll be things that I know that is important to the business. So I support them in doing that and working hard and stay Late where I think if I wasn’t involved in the business and didn’t understand that I may be upset for him not coming home or working late, and vice versa. So I think, you know, it’s good, good ways and bad ways. And of course we have our bickering and fights over the business, but it’s, we try to keep that very separate that from our personal life, especially now that we have a baby or now she’s three. So, um, you know, keeping those the business and our relationship separate. We never had the talk about what happens if we break up. You know, it just we kind of, I guess, maybe we knew from the beginning we were going to get married, you know, like, everything just worked perfectly, I guess.
Sushant Misra : That’s great. So if you could take me to those first. You know, the first day is when you join the company or you started working with the company. Did you already have sales going at that time? Did you already have like a prototype or the product that was ready for sale? Was there like any testing process at that time where you were checking that the people who are buying it or using it are liking the the product? And yeah, so what was what was going on in those early days when you joined the company?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : So there was a lot of product testing going on. I mean, we launched with one shape, and that was tested among hundreds of kids and surfers before we went into production with it. And that was back in the slide. This is our 10 year anniversary so slide LLC in 2010. But the first sale was in 2011. That summer. And Steve did a lot of SEO work. And that’s how the sales came. So there was no no payment. Marketing. At that point, everything was organic and people just searching online for some, like body surfing products. So I think the key to our success and making those first sales in the beginning was the search engine optimization. And Steve spent a lot of time writing a lot of articles. And it’s still to this day has paid off that, you know, him spending the time on that. But going forward, past that, we did a lot of events. So and it was really we tried to do a lot of organic and word of mouth. But and a lot of testing, which like making sure customers are happy and it was immediate once people had the board and trying it, they loved it.
Sushant Misra : Okay, and well did it also involve like just going on the beach and showing it to people and you know, giving them like a demo and asking them what do you think about it, those kind of things.
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Exactly. Lots of demo days, and we still do that. Lots of demos well not now and the COVID period but lots of demos. That’s you know, it’s hard when you’re creating a new basically a new sports you know that people aren’t haven’t tried before. It’s hard to just put up a Facebook ad you know and spend the money in for people to see and just you know, click Buy. A lot of people want to try it first and so for us, it’s always been getting people on boards and and then our team of ambassadors that are out there actually using boards and then letting people you know we get we get our just customer saying oh is in the water and you know people have been asking me about it I you know, and I’ll just let them try it so like our customers our best Salesforce really
Sushant Misra : and and does a product like this given that you have a unique divine and sky It was kind of like one unique product at the beginning does the This kind of a product or from a business perspective, do you worry that you know, we should have a patent? Or do you have a patent and Is that necessary for a product like this.
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : So that was one of the first things that we did and worked on. And we were really nervous, especially when we went on Shark Tank and we had all our patents done. But we’ve come to find out you know, we spent lots of money that someone can just change a little thing on our boards, and then you know, it wouldn’t matter like our patent wouldn’t hold up again at all they have to do is, you know, change a little curve on the board. So we haven’t focused on that we’re just trying mainly focusing on the branding and making our brand and being the you know, the best the first and the one that people trust. So instead of focusing there on the patents anymore, we’re focusing on the brand
Sushant Misra : and that is something that I am hearing from other entrepreneur. Notice also that I talked to that, you know, it’s so expensive to go through this process of getting patents and things like that, that they would much rather take the risk and just start the business. Is that is that an advice that you would give to other entrepreneurs also to if, if it is somewhat of a general product, don’t worry too much about the pattern and just go ahead with the business?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Yeah, it depends on the product. Because if you have, you know, something like ours, that’s a general product and someone just needs to switch a little thing, then yeah, I wouldn’t worry much about the pattern, just focus on the brand. And you know, being the first out there and the first one that people you know, if you’re the first and doing the best people will trust you, and you’ll have that leg up. I mean, it’s expensive to even just fight a patent and go down that route. So if you are going to go down the patent route, then you just need to make sure then you have the money to back it up. If someone does rip it off. But for us, yes, but definitely not. I mean, there are other instances where I think a patent is really important to have. So it just depends on your product.
Sushant Misra : I guess it may also depend like if, if the revenues are like really high, maybe in hundreds of millions of dollars, then it made probably makes sense to just make sure that you have the protection. Can you share a little bit about the financing at the beginning of when you were starting the product and the business and before Shark Tank? From what I read, based on the internet research, you had some personal investment than you had from a couple of other investors? Also, was it more just to for product design purposes, prototyping or marketing?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Yep, so all the initial investment was from someone that actually Steve was teaching surf lessons to me He was living in LA and when he first came to me first got to be us and was living in LA and he was teaching surf lessons. And he told the guy Russell, who became a good friend about slide and what he wanted to do, and he was excited about it, he’s like, hey, I want to invest. So that was kind of like his first investment. And that allowed Steve to not have to, you know, teach surf lessons and to do this full time. And also do all you know, finding the manufacturer and getting all that set up and prototypes. It takes a long time and then getting the website set up and SEO. So that was the first investment. The second investment. We knew we needed to really grow in with the marketing we really need to step it up to there. And then at that point, I was also working full time I quit my job so we needed to support now to full time salaries. And we found Actually, my brother was doing a video for us. And he was on the airplane. And he was he was editing something for us. And the guy next to him was like, wow, what is that? That is so cool. And he’s like, yeah, it’s my sister’s company with her boyfriend at the time. And he’s like, wow, are they looking for investment? And he was like, Yeah, actually, they are. And he gave him his number for me to call and I did call him I’m, you know, my brother was like, you know, I don’t know if you want to call this guy and so I, you know, it’s like, uh, I guess I’ll call them you know, we had everything ready a pitch deck, like because I was actively looking. I had done a bunch of pitches to like Angel and groups. And it went through like within a week, I sent him over everything. He was excited about it and we close within a week and luckily I had everything Thing prepared for him so that was exciting and our first like real invest investor will other than Russell from you know he invested before he even saw the product so it was cool
Sushant Misra : one one question that I’m really curious about knowing when when you get investors like this like angel investors and you know people who are willing to invest in your company what how do you how does that work in terms of like legal aspect of thing? Is it just that in the corporation that you have you add another person and you say, Okay, this person person owns a certain percentage of the equity or deserving and well like other legal like agreements and documents and things like that.
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Can you hear me I think I lost you for a second.
Sushant Misra : Oh, can you hear me? No.
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Yeah. So you were asking about when we get investor like this, I missed that part.
Sushant Misra : Yeah. So when when someone gets an investor or someone who’s investing in your business. What are some of the like the legal aspects of those things? Like, is it just a matter of adding someone in your, you know, corporate filings and saying, Now this person owns a certain percentage of the equity? Or does that involve like more paperwork, where you outline like all the roles and responsibilities and a lot of other?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : So it depends on the investor. So with him with Mitch, it was more of Okay, I’ll we just needed to add them to the LLC agreement. Obviously, we had, we had worked with a lawyer, you know, to draw, draw that up. I think it was just like a one page of like, what his investment was, and then add him to our LLC agreement. And that was easy. But and then obviously, when it comes to bigger investors, it depends on what the deal is. So we actually Completely different process with obviously mark and Ashton.
Sushant Misra : Okay. Now I know that you worked with the San Diego sports innovators springboard program. Could you share a little bit about what that was? And how did that help you in terms of you know, pitching and yeah,
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : so both Steve and I never went to business school. My major was physical education and health education. And Steve was product design. So there were a lot of things on the business side and on finance and that we didn’t know so and of course on how to get investment, so we want it to be educated on that. And so we went through the process with the springboard program and that enabled us to have we had three advisors, one for business, one for marketing and one for financial. And so they helped helped us create basically pitch. And then also I worked with our financial advisor on creating a full financial plan. And to this day, I mean, I think that was like six or seven years ago, our financial advisor from San Diego sports innovators is actually part of our board member team. So he’s, he works with us, I still meet with them monthly as an advisor and it’s amazing and probably one of the best things that that I did as an entrepreneur is to have those advisors and to keep them on
Sushant Misra : and there wasn’t like any investment from your fight to get into that program. It wasn’t just like you applied to it and they accepted your
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : we applied is a decent process and interview and you have to get accepted. There was I think it you had to join as a membership. So I think it was like $250 for No $250 for per quarter, but it gave you a full two years of membership.
Sushant Misra : Now one of the things that I read was that with your business because it’s kind of a new product, there was a big challenge that you faced in the beginning and maybe even now is educating the market of what this product is and who should be using it. And, and some of the things that you mentioned already, you know, Steve was writing articles and things like that to educate and then you went into, you know, on the beaches and things like that to do demos. How has the, you know, what is your feel on terms of you know, what the market is like in terms of knowing what your product is? And how has your educational efforts changed from the beginning to what you’re doing now?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Honestly, it hasn’t changed. It’s still our best thing to do is is getting out there and doing demos and focusing on our customers and using their word of mouth. We do paid advertising now, but still not much compared to other companies. And we focus mainly in like the summertime is when our obviously our marketing shifts to that, but we’ve stuck true to it because it’s what works. We do. We did focus a good amount on press and in getting that like, you know, getting into Forbes and Huffington Post and New York Times, which obviously was really helpful. But the best thing for us is always just getting people out there and trying the boards.
Sushant Misra : Okay. And so, how has your manufacturing changed from the beginning? What? I know that maybe maybe after working with shark tanks, they may have advised you or help you. Can you share a little bit like But how are you manufacturing it? Was it always in the US and and how has that evolved to where you are right now.
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : So we have tried manufacturing in the US and getting boards made here it’s not really possible most you for our process getting the boards made here surfboard manufacturing is all handmade so we wouldn’t actually be able to do like a mass amount. So everything for us has been overseas for any mass produced products we did we do in the beginning do a lot of you know handmade products here in the US. And we’ve the first couple of years, we did have to change manufacturers a bunch. We have been happy to stay with our first our, with the manufacturer that we have now for the past seven years and we’ll stay with them forever. It’s you know, once you find someone that you really like You mesh with but they’re in Taiwan and we go out there, especially in the beginning we went out there a lot you meet their families and you go out to dinners with them and you get really close with them. So that’s you know, having that relationship with your manufacturer, especially overseas is really important. Especially in that culture, they want to meet you and take you out with their families and you know, most of them our family owned and run businesses so that was really important. Our second manufacturer so we’ve two manufacturers and when we came out with a foam board after Shark Tank now this is the biggest surfboard manufacturer in the world that we make our foam boards with so they they produce all the boards for like Costco like those big you know, foam surfboards, etc. And we would have never gotten into them. As our manufacturer. We didn’t have You know, been able to name drop Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher. So like, that’s something we Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely you know, when you’re working with a really massive manufacturer, and you’re just like a little guy, at least, like having the names of, you know, obviously a billionaire, it helps to, you know, catch their attention and, like, put their time into you. Because it’s, you know, they may not make much money off of you compared to, you know, all the money they’re making with Costco and other they’re big. You know, they’re, they’re big companies that they work with.
Sushant Misra : And one question that I’m always interested in knowing is when you work with these manufacturers in different countries like Taiwan or China and you have like a unique product Do you like when when you have some agreements, do you in those agreements, do you say you know, that they’re not going to use your design to sell to other other people or things like that, because
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : So both are manufacturers really important that we have non competes so both we are manufacturers can’t make him boards for anyone else. So, um, we made sure that when we signed with them the A they won’t take our designs and solve with someone else we own we own the molds, but also we it was important for us that they weren’t are producing for anyone else because our process of making our hand boards are unique. So we didn’t want someone else you know, another hand board company coming to them and you know, taking the process that we use to make our hand board so we haven’t had anyone anyone doing that and that’s why having that relationship with your manufacturers really important that they know you and they can trust you and you can trust them. We did our initial the very first boards that we made back in 2011 was a china made product and we did have those issues where, you know, that you saw on, on all different websites being Alibaba, you know, and they’re not there anymore. But, you know, that’s why we moved to Taiwan. It’s China you have to really be careful with. We did also get when we did do our trademarking, in case we ever went back to China we did our trademark there first slide that way. It’s just a way to shut down any copiers like anyone wanting to make slide products there.
Sushant Misra : And these kind of advice of if your legal team advise you that you should do this and photo. Yeah. So I want to ask you a couple of questions about Shark Tank. When you decided to go to Shark Tank, what was the reasoning behind that? Was it more that you wanted some additional funding? Or was it more that, you know, having advisors like, you know, Mark Cuban and and, you know, some star power like you know Ashton Kutcher that would help your business or was more like a strategic move, or did you? Did you need the financing also?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Oh, we desperately needed the financing at the time. You know, we were in a lot of debt, our own personal credit card debt. We’ve borrowed money from my mom from Steve’s parents and brother and so we were in a lot of debt. And this is money like neither of our parents have extra money to loan us like we had to pay them back. And then obviously, so we needed the money, and we needed it was obviously a great public Let’s city and like marketing things. So when we went on, we wanted to make sure I mean, we weren’t expecting to get I mean, to actually get one of them and to invest in us, we just wanted to make sure that we didn’t make ourselves look like idiots on national TV and one of them, you know, wanted to invest in us then, you know, then that’s just a bonus. So, we thought being able, you know, to get more eyes on our products would obviously help the business and getting more money by making more sales. And then if someone did invest with us, then great and we’re, like, feel so lucky to have that because after all said and done, it’s more than money is just, you know, isn’t worth as much as the actually having mark and Ashton a part of our team.
Sushant Misra : So when you when you value your company and you say you know, or any You know, anyone who goes on Shark Tank and they say, you know, we’re looking for, you know, 200 k for 20% of our company or something like that, is that number based on? Do you say like, you know, what, what my last year’s revenue revenue was, and then it will be like five x of that, that my company is worth? How does that calculation actually work? Like from a business perspective?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : There’s so many ways and so many different, you know, ways to do to like, you know, when you talk about valuation, it could be, you know, what your patents are and what those are worth or it could be, you know, the trending for us, we use the trend. So, you know, our first year in business, we were 20, we had $20,000 in sales, second was 43rd was 84th was 180. So, like, we used our trend, and to prove that hey, like, we’re, we’re growing it’s a new product. So that was kind of helpful. We were able to get our valuation, which was way more than what our revenue was. So I think it just it depends the traditional way is, is, I think between like five to eight times your EBIT us. So it’s, it’s really, it depends on who your customer is. And you know how much they it’s really in the eye of the beholder, right, like how much they see the value in it. So that’s why for us is more important that someone saw the value in the brand In the long term than just like a quick exit.
Sushant Misra : And so what has been the benefit of working after you find the deal? In what ways has their team helped you in terms of, you know, growing your business?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Well, first, it’s just like the constant communication with Mark and Ashton and their advice. He is, you know, is amazing you can email market basically any hour of the day or night and somehow he responds within minutes and I just don’t think he sleeps. And then 13 just you know from the beginning with, you know, our Amazon and having the connections direct with that the Dick’s Sporting Goods was through marks team that were able to get in, in all the Dick’s Sporting Goods stores. So it’s and then using their names when we need a new manufacturer or you know, a new marketing firm or whatever we do it’s you know, people value having you know, knowing that we were legit company and not just you know, we’re not going to go bankrupt. You know, we have you know, the backing of two very big people.
Sushant Misra : So basically anything that you want to do when you name drop a Mark Cuban as an investor, I think that opens the doors. And of course, he probably introduces you to people and things like that. Yeah. What? Is there a seasonality to your business? Like, do you see that? And even the geography like that most of your sales come from like the coastal beach areas and also most of your fields are in like the summer fever.
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Yeah, so definitely it’s seasonality. two summers are peak and anywhere on the coast, so California, Florida, East Coast, Jersey Shore, Maryland, and Hawaii. And then then the winter is Hawaii is in Australia. So our winters summer in Australia, we do have a distributor there. So he takes care of all that. Those are two obviously in the US and then Australia as a secondary market. And then which is why because it sees all we actually started a second company for The winters. So with Mark in essence that we have, we have more revenue coming in than just in the summer.
Sushant Misra : What is that second company for the winter?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : So, we started a shoe company you can see behind me. Oh, yes.
Sushant Misra : Yeah, I was wondering why why is this true but I knew
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Yeah, it’s called about skin shoes. And that’s, you know, another e commerce company a whole other conversation but if you look up felt skin shoes calm. That’s us that’s Steven I and Mark mash into. And it’s just because in the winters it’s you know, we don’t have much to do. We have our distributor in Australia, and we wanted extra revenue coming in to support us and our employees for the downtime. And it’s been it’s been great to have that extra income coming in as well
Sushant Misra : for you They’re actually sold in the US in North America or
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards :
Yep, so we sell direct to consumer online in the US. And these are all handmade in South Africa. Actually. Same South African. So it’s a felt skin is a shoe there that you know, it’s kind of like a to Australia or like, you know, gumboots to the UK like it’s just it’s a type of shoe in South Africa.
Sushant Misra : So this is a leather what what is the material?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Yep, there leather shoes. Okay.
Sushant Misra : Okay. What does your team look like right now?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : So it’s Steven I and then we have Michelle who handles all of our social media and brand partnerships. We have another in house designer, her name is Carolyn, and she works with Steve on projects like email marketing and anything that goes out like on Social media and then my dad dissolver counting and our QuickBooks. And my aunt Joyce actually does our all of our customer service. And then we work with a marketing firm in LA we’re. And then we have Mark Cuban’s fulfillment team in Dallas, so to Good, good team.
Sushant Misra : So the fulfillment of Do you also do fulfillment through Amazon FBA or is it just his like, his fulfillment?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Yes, this slide is in is on Amazon FBA. So they ship for us to Amazon and then they also fulfill all our online Shopify. We are with Shopify, so all our Shopify orders, they also do our shoe company and the shoes we’re not going to put on Amazon, we’re going to keep them strictly to to Shopify, just like exchanges and returns with shoes or whole separate thing to deal with.
Sushant Misra : By the by the way, you’re comfortable, right? You’re, I see. There’s no there’s nothing. I thought that you’re moving on in the chair. There’s nothing. You’re okay, right. Okay. Okay. Okay. So I want to know a little bit about your social media. I saw your, you know, your Instagram and and I saw a lot of photos or is it mostly user generated content that you you know that people sent to you and you post on your social media? Or do you have your own team and your own like people who like it’s a, you know, you take pictures and you post them on social media, how does that work?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : slide is very, very community orientated and it’s awesome to have that everything that we post is all community generated so we don’t go out and need to spend money on you know what a professional photographer we do every once in a while, but for the most part, I’d say 95% is user generated. Now the shoe company that we talked about is a completely separate story because it’s more like fashion and so you need to have those professional photos but can I was slide it’s such a great community and people are happy to share so it’s, it’s awesome.
Sushant Misra : Now one thing that I saw on your YouTube video, I believe you’re working with a big wave surfers surf to champion grant, Twiggy Baker is he is he like your your spokesperson from like the the surfing community or is he working with the company or is he just like us And it was just like an interview in there.
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Um, so we worked with him for a bit when he won the championship. And so you know, that was great to have him on board and show people that you know, big wave surfers off also use hand boards. Our main partner that we have his name is Shauna Noga. He’s a big body surfer in Hawaii. And so it’s important to have those relationships with the surfers and people that you know, the surf industry really respects because yes, we want to go mainstream and make you know, we want to replace boogie boarding but it’s also we want to create a very cool brand. So you still need to have those, those like cool surfers that are you know, showing that it’s that it’s a something that anyone wants to be a part of. So it’s kind of the way we see
Sushant Misra : or, you know, focusing on like, into national market. So I know that you know, all over the world, there’s like beaches and people who serve and things like that. Do you have to be strategic and saying, you know, if you go to a different country, but you can’t sell this product at the same price that you can sell it in the US or at some of the other Western countries, then it won’t work out in those countries or so how like do you have to be strategic and choosing which market you’ll get into?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : So we’ve The only other market we’ve really been successful with a distributor is in Australia. So that was very strategic. We work with him closely on you know, pricing and everything and he does a good job with that. For everywhere else we ship from our from the US so online, so we control that. So we make sure everything is controlled by us. So we’re not we’re not working with distributed theaters over there. It’s still pretty nice. So in other areas of the world, so we’ve really only focus on the US and Australia. And if people come from we do ship internationally, I’d say about five to 10% of our orders are international. But we just consider that as like an extra bonus. And we haven’t really focused much there too much yet.
Sushant Misra : Now, I know that in anyone’s entrepreneurial journey, there’s always you know, mistakes and failures. Throughout the eight or nine years that you’ve been working with this company, what are one or two big mistakes or failures that that stand out for you? And what have you learned from them and what can others learn from those mistakes?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : That’s a tough question. It’s mistake. I’d say in the very beginning was just not knowing like we didn’t know what a gross margin was. We didn’t know, you know, we’re like, hey, it’s costing us 50 bucks to make these boards if we sell them for 100 great, you know, but we actually, you know, you have your shipping costs, you have your website costs, you have all those other, you know, we have our salaries. So, like, we didn’t really understand, you know, where gross margins came from. And, you know, I’d never heard of the term before that. So I guess, you know, knowing that and being educated on you know, having all the financials, know how, especially if you’ve never gone to business school, but learning from that, which is why it was important for us to get a financial advisor and go through the San Diego sports innovators program. I did that program and I also did, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses. That’s basically if you look that up, it’s basically like getting a free MBA through Goldman Sachs partners. With Babson and Babson is one of the is the top entrepreneurship college in the country. And so there’s a whole you go through a whole semester. And that was the best thing by far for me to do was was going with just getting educated, you know, because you don’t know you don’t know. And then also just having advisors that you can turn to that have been through this.
Sushant Misra : Okay, so now we’re going to do a segment called rapid fire round where I’m going to ask you a few questions and you have to answer them maybe in one or two words or one or two sentences. And the first one is, do you recommend any book for entrepreneurs or business executive and 2020? Do you read a lot of books?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Well, I’m in a mom’s book clubs and most of them are not business books, but what I do religiously listen to his guy rises and PR how I built this I love that podcast mostly. It’s very and it keeps me inspired, you know, seeing and hearing from other entrepreneurs better. I mean, they’re puppies now, but it’s cool just as an inspiring thing. So I listened to that once a week.
Sushant Misra : And innovative product or idea and the current ecommerce retail or tech landscape that you’re excited about.
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Any shoe company that’s gonna choose
Sushant Misra : a productivity tool or software that you recommend?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : remains means it’s a connection with Shopify for customer service.
Sushant Misra : Awesome. Okay. Okay. startup or business that you think is doing great things right now. I’m Foxconn shoes.
Sushant Misra : A peer entrepreneur or business person who has But a few
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : Actually, I just had a really good conversation with another Shark Tank company or name is Elizabeth Granada’s from she did little nomads, Nash, she’s rebranded to house of Noah. And she’s very inspiring as a female entrepreneur, she just sold part of our company for a lot of money.
Sushant Misra : Okay. And final one best business advice that you have ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs.
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : This was Mark Cuban one. And he says, just, you know, work, you need to work more than your competitors, or they’re going to beat you. So it’s basically like a game and a competition, work harder and more.
Sushant Misra : So how many hours do you work every day?
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : All day all night. We’re always constantly thinking about it. If we’re not in the office, we’re still like on date nights, talking about work you know so it’s it’s just constant.
Sushant Misra : So you don’t you don’t really have like a very big part of your time devoted to like social life like going out and things like that.
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : No we definitely tried to especially on the weekends and like you know our we pick up our daughter from school at 530 and she goes down to sleep at eight so like that two and a half hours is not work time. And but the occasional you know, we’ll talk about it sometimes but we try to make sure that that time is not work. But once she’s asleep, Steve’s usually back on the computer doing some stuff and we’ll be talking about you know, brainstorming things.
Sushant Misra : Okay, those were all the questions that I had today. Thank you so much for joining us today. Angela. Thank you for sharing your story and all the strategies and tactics and that you have used to grow your business. Now is your chance to share Your website, your businesses, where people can go and shop for your products and, and can find you Sure,
Angela Watts of Slyde Handboards : sure slide hand boards.com so it’s sl YDE hand boards.com that’s our body surfing company and then our new shoe company is called felt skin shoes and that’s v e ld SKOEN. Shoes calm so and both are just online on our Shopify website.
Sushant Misra : Perfect. Thank you so much. It was a real pleasure speaking with you and thanks for sharing your story. And yeah, really appreciate your time today. Trep Talks Thank you.
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