We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Dave Trail”, CEO/ President of the startup based in San Diego United States “SurfSection.com”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
There are literally 29,300,000+ Online Surf Shop possibilities available to dig through on the web. At SurfSection.com,we make it much easier for our customers to find what they are looking for at the best possible deal.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
We were founded in June 2014. We are an early stage start-up with 7 people employed at SurfSection. We are profitable, growing, and we enjoy very low Alexa scores and thousands of visitors per month.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
There are millions of possibilities on the web when searching for products. This is both good and bad. A simple search for a product can entail hours of searching through many many web shops trying to find out the best price, best terms, and a site that they trust. SurfSection’s mission is to be a one stop shop where all “possible” online surf shops are condensed into one search via one site.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
Our team originally started with just me and a dream. As I began to grow my site, I began to out grow my web skills. Some of what I wanted to do required skills beyond my own knowledge of HTML and WordPress. I met Arun in early October. He quickly became enamored with our site and became my go to resource and CTO. There are also two individual who focus purely on marketing and publicity, and currently we have two full time blog writers and a team of web developers as well.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
As I mentioned, we are the first and only successful site of our kind within our industry. (the surfing industry). The fact that we tailor to this industry and it is our sole focus allows our customers to feel at home within our site.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
Our first few months were focused primarily on building web infrastructure. We became revenue positive towards the end of 2014 and have enjoyed outstanding growth ever since. We became profitable nearly three months ago, and foresee growth of revenue and margins being able to provide expanded the business dramatically in 2015.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
As I mentioned, (other than a couple small players and companies outside of our industry trying to poach our customers) we really have no serious competitors.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
I guess the biggest challenge has been manipulating a massive database of products. We carry more than 100k products. This has been a balancing act of maintaining a large enough inventory of products without sacrificing user experience.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
Haha. I guess the biggest misconception is that surfer are a bunch of lazy beach bums. It is very expensive to live near the beach (in most cities) and surfer have to be very resourceful to be able to afford these expenses without keeping them out of the water too often.
The global Surf Market will reach $17 billion by 2017.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We are going to succeed by continuing to provide value to our customers. When we provide value to our customers, (in turn) they sustain our need to exist.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
I always thought that travel services would be a good compliment to our offering. Surfers are a traveling group. Searching for the best waves in far off places is something that we do. Perhaps SurfSection can help.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
Like all other successful entrepreneurs, I saw a need in a market that I loved and created a way to help others like myself. Necessity always breeds the best.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
I think it is interesting that the ones that are closest to us do not always provide the best support network. It’s best to keep home and work apart and to find support from others that are facing your same challenges.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Our company’s growth will require us to add people to fulfill responsibilities. Managing and coordinating this growing team without becoming a boring corporation is something that I want to achieve for our current and future employees.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
We all need “stuff”. If I can allow people to save time from looking around for “stuff” so that they have more time to do what they love, we are succeeding.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Many reach us through word of mouth, our connections with the industry, and through popular marketing methods we support hundreds of thousands of customers.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our main customers are almost exclusively surfers or beach culture men and women between the age of 18 and 39 from all over the world. These customers are savy, intelligent, and brand loyal.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Our new customers find us through the methods discussed above. Hopefully we provide them value, and they come back again. I think when they try SurfSection, they realize that this is a pretty cool way to shop.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
Everyone has been very receptive. They see the value and keep coming back. Pretty much every revue that we’ve received has either been positive of constructive.
20. How are you going to scale?
We are at a stage currently where organic growth will fuel us for the near future. There will eventually come a time when we may need financial resources from outside individuals.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
I am still working on bettering the best way to position 5000 sets of product in front of our customers in a way that they can easily decide on which is best for them. Accomplishing this without overwhelming them is and will be our challenge.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We are currently a global company doing business in 150 countries. As our “presence” grows, so will or customer base. What we sell is appreciated in (pretty much) every corner of the globe.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
This market will grow to $17 billion dollars. What will be our part of that? I guess all of that depends upon how much our customers
continue to love us.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We are a growing company. The door is almost always open for exciting, dedicated, and passionate people. They can reach us via our website or any of our social media channels.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are always open to discussing options. If the right person or company comes along that we think will provide a mutually beneficial arrangement, we would be happy to talk about how we can work together for our customers.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Keep at it. This is (maybe) the hardest thing you ever attempt, but it can also be your most rewarding. Or… if you really (truly) think it isn’t going to work, be strong enough to set it down so that you can move on to the next opportunity.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Thank you for your time and for all that have read this.