ASU alum turns skateboard idea into profitable venture
A little over $1,000 in personal savings and a wacky idea is all Arizona State University alum Greg Rudolph needed to launch his venture Board Blazers, a business that has now taken off and landed Rudolph print real estate in Entrepreneur magazine.
Rudolph, a former business student from ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business, first conceived the idea to produce adhesive LED underglow lighting for skateboards, longboards and scooters after seeing another ASU student riding around campus on his skateboard with Christmas lights duct-taped to the underside.
The 23 year old doesn’t know how to skateboard but knew that the lighting could be improved. He also knew that underside lighting would be popular as a safety and customization feature for skateboarding enthusiasts.
“The majority of skateboarding accidents occur while riding on the street, not at skate parks,” the Entrepreneur magazine article quotes him as saying.
Rudolph quickly got to work. He worked on refining the idea in his parents’ garage in Laguna Niguel, California, and searched online for manufacturers in China who could produce the product he envisioned. A few months later, he had his first set of lights in hand.
Rudolph continued to develop and refine his business idea, which received a critical boost when Board Blazers became one of the 20 venture ideas chosen by the 2014-2015 ASU Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, a prestigious startup accelerator program that provides selected teams up to $20,000 in seed funding, office space and accelerator and support services.
“Greg is a remarkable example of the kind of student entrepreneur the Edson program fosters – fearless, innovative and a quick study,” said Garret Westlake, associate dean of student entrepreneurship at ASU. “He used the information received during the program, including details on venture funding, creating a robust business model and product marketing, to scale and advance his venture successfully.”
Board Blazers has sold tens of thousands of light sets to customers in 15 countries. The company is seeking partnerships with skateboarding manufacturers and competitive skaters, and continues to engage boarding enthusiasts and parents buying gifts.
He said that the crash course he received as part of starting his business, in streamlining operations and generating revenue quickly, was priceless.
“I could apply what I learned in the classroom to the business, and vice versa,” Rudolph said. “It was the best type of internship.”