BomBoard workshop & headquarters

BomBoard workshop & headquarters

BomBoard founder and CEO John West (left) and CFO/COO Anders Stubkjaer stand next to the progression of BomBoard prototypes in the company's Whitewater, WI, headquarters and workshop.

Photo by Jeff Engel

John West

John West

BomBoard founder and CEO John West built his first boat at age 10.

Photo courtesy of BomBoard

Transporting BomBoard

Transporting BomBoard

BomBoard test pilot Kody McCormick takes the disassembled jet ski out of his car trunk. The fully assembled craft weighs 150 pounds.

Photo courtesy of BomBoard

BomBoard assembly

BomBoard assembly

BomBoard's four pieces can be assembled in less than 60 seconds.

Photo courtesy of BomBoard

Need for speed

Need for speed

BomBoard has a top speed of 40 miles per hour.

Photo courtesy of BomBoard

Pilot options

Pilot options

BomBoard riders can pilot the craft in multiple positions, including standing, sitting, and kneeling.

Photo courtesy of BomBoard

Market strategy

Market strategy

The company wants BomBoard to hit the market in early 2015.

Photo courtesy of BomBoard

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a network of young hires who ride BomBoards and wear BomBoard clothing. These “brand ambassadors,” who will be contractors, are intended to show off the lifestyle without aggressively pushing peers to buy a BomBoard, since many young people have never been to a car or power sports vehicle dealership and might be intimidated by that process, West says. If an ambassador’s referral leads to a sale, he or she receives a commission.

“We call them salesmen in sheep’s clothing,” West says. “We don’t want to hard sell.”

BomBoard doesn’t intend to pump dollars into marketing efforts like its bigger competitors do. Instead, it will rely heavily on word of mouth and Internet videos going viral, West says. That strategy was put to its first test when the company was featured in Gizmag last week. Since publication, BomBoard has received more than $1 million worth of pre-orders, says Anders Stubkjaer, chief financial officer and chief operating officer. BomBoard’s promotional video on YouTube has exceeded 20,000 views since being posted in late February.

“Today, to get the word out on a product, a GoPro video can get you more reach than all the money that [competitors] spend on marketing,” West says. “It’s not just a product, it’s a lifestyle. … We’re selling fun.”

But first, BomBoard must secure the money to start production. The company raised $1.3 million in seed funds over the past four years from West’s family and friends; West himself contributed to the round as well. Now BomBoard is eyeing a $2 million Series A round, and has raised $160,000 so far, Stubkjaer says.

Funding has been the biggest challenge for BomBoard, West says, because most investors these days are putting money into software or life sciences companies.

“This is not a typical business that a venture capitalist would be interested in,” West says. “What we’ve found are [water sports] enthusiasts, people that maybe in their personal life are excited about us.”

After that initial hook, BomBoard will reel in investors with its technology, market strategy, and projected financial returns, West says. The company, which has published an astounding amount of detail for investors on its website, projects that it will achieve $102 million in sales in the third full year of generating revenue (it intends to hit the market in the first quarter of 2015) and will provide an 18.6 multiple return on investment for participants in the Series A. Other potential selling points for investors include the direct sales channel, which West says will boost margins at least 20 percent versus selling through dealers, and the additional revenue stream from a planned line of BomBoard clothing and accessories.

The Series A money would allow BomBoard to produce about 400 units per month, Stubkjaer says. BomBoard will source parts from domestic and international suppliers, and handle assembly in Whitewater, West says.

But ramping up capacity to meet anticipated demand, at least initially, could also prove challenging, West says. And online commenters have raised questions about BomBoard logistics, such as the potential difficulty for one person of lifting the craft’s 80-pound engine section into a car trunk and whether the BomBoard will leak fuel.

BomBoard says it intends to sell accessories, like a small cart with wheels, that will help customers more easily transport the heavy section. Its gas tanks will have hose couplings that prevent spillage, Stubkjaer says.

West, a former Marine Corps lieutenant who fought in the Vietnam War, is confident BomBoard will be able to successfully execute its plan, and that his “raw tenacity” and passion for this product will continue to carry the company forward.

“I learned in the Marine Corps, when you get ambushed, you charge into the ambush,” West says. “You’re aggressive. There’s got to be a solution.”

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