What were some of the challenges you’ve found while growing your business?
We started with zero funding. In the effort of authenticity and transparency, we started with $40,000 in credit card debt. My wife and I bootstrapped it from the beginning. Her background was in financial wealth management and my background was engineering. With that, we had a solid foundation of technical experience. We didn’t have business strategy experience. After about a long period of learning and growing, we were able to move away from being technicians and move into the strategic arena, forecasting and modeling growth dynamics and risks. All that stuff was a lot of fun, but it took a lot of work to get there, the experience was like getting an MBA, law degree, the whole nine yards – we learned so much so fast. We both had an extremely hard work ethic, but transitioning to a strategic leader, or a strategic thinker, was our biggest challenge.
What are some of the goals you have for BOTE?
Our goal is to become the world’s premier water lifestyle brand. We want to be the top of the peak in our space in the globe. Step one is obviously becoming the premier brand in the United States, and I think we’re well on our trajectory there to do so. We’ve been diversifying our product categories for more than pure watercraft and water sports. We’re looking into adjacent arenas with a channel expansion like apparel and a category expansion, like camping.
We want to be an omnichannel brand pillared by our direct consumer channel. That means having our website and our flagship stores all over the country where consumers can experience the brand, and then taking that model and expanding internationally. We recently opened our Australia market and are expanding into Europe in 2023.
What is your proudest moment as CEO?
That’s a tough. It’s hard for me to name big homeruns because I like to celebrate the base hits and then we’re back to asking, what’s next? But, one would be when we do our annual planning around September. I always get the biggest highs when we come out of the season having achieved our trajectories.
Looking back, another big moment was when I told our board we have to transition the business to direct consumer. If we don’t do that, we’re going to be upside down from a business perspective. Getting buy-in from the entire board to shift from wholesale to direct consumer, was rewarding. And it’s worked out well in our favor over the last five years. From a CEOs perspective, that was definitely the best decision we could have made for a strategic push.
What does it mean to be selected as an Honoree this year? Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
Man, it’s cool to know that there are eyeballs on you, that people are watching. It’s always rewarding anytime somebody recognizes you for something. Especially when it’s on the business growth side of things as opposed to the marketing and product. It’s a really cool honor. My wife and the co-founder, Magda. Without her, we wouldn’t be here.