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Tiffany Montgomery
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Startup advice from Surf Diva, others

By Tiffany Montgomery
March 27, 2008 9:34 AM

I checked out a CEO strategy forum yesterday put on by Connect, a San Diego nonprofit that links entrepreneurs with resources they need. Connect has started a program dedicated to helping action sports companies called ASI or, Action & Sport Innovators, which offers business mentoring programs and other services.


Yesterday a panel that included Ludo Boinnard, founder and CEO of motocross company One Industries, Izzy Tihanyi, co-owner and CEO of Surf Diva, and Lance Fried, founder and chairman of Freestyle Audio, talked about the trials of bringing a product to market.


One of the best questions came from a member of the audience who asked each panelist what they would have done differently when they first started the company. Here are their answers.


Izzy Tihanyi: She would have made sure licensees had the distribution channels they claimed they did and she would have gone with a company inside the action sports industry who has the right contacts. Surf Diva has been pleased with their alliance with Surftech for Surf Diva surfboards but not as thrilled with their apparel licensee.


Ludo Boinnard: He would have hired an experienced operating officer sooner to handle things like logistics, OSHA laws and legal issues. He hired mostly inexperienced staff during the first nine years of his company. While it was fun to grow and learn together, "You get to a stage where you've got to realize it's a handicap to your business."


Lance Fried: He would have gone after venture capital money in the beginning after he secured his intellectual property rights. It's important to understand your capital needs in years three to five, not just years one to two, he said. His business changed from being distributed in smaller regional stores to selling in national electronic and sporting goods chains.


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