In this latest edition of SUP Company Spotlight, we caught up with BOTE founder, Corey Cooper. Headquartered in Florida, BOTE is well-known for producing rigid and inflatable paddle boards with innovative designs and standout features…
How were you initially introduced to the sport of stand up paddleboarding?
I was never introduced to it as a sport. In fact, what I first experienced was a giant surfboard that was practically useless on flat water. Too small, no buoyancy to speak of, and unstable as anything. However, I could see an allure to creating something that was more usable, like a boat. Basically, a platform you could use for a variety of activities from fishing to yoga. Hence the brand name BOTE.
What ignited the spark in you to get involved in the industry?
Again, it wasn’t the ‘industry’ that I gravitated towards. I saw a product and a lifestyle connection to my life. At the time I was on the water with my family every weekend, so for me, the development was a passion for a product that fit my lifestyle and needs.
How important have good employees been to your success?
All of it. We wouldn’t be close to where we are at without ridiculously talented employees. I say it 100 times a week. People make our business, not the other way around.
If you had a chance to start your company over again, what would you do differently?
Honestly, about 1 million things. Seriously, I have learned so much from this endeavor that should I do something again // when I do something again, my experience will pay off 10 fold. You name it; almost anything, I would approach it differently. I will say the ONE thing I wouldn’t change is steadfastness in my personal vision. It’s so easy for people to become manipulated by other influences, but I would rather make the gamble on my vision, execute it, and fail, then be a copy-cat, me too business in any category. There is no personal satisfaction in that for me.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Bad hires. This is the biggest challenge with scaling. The way I try to look at a hire or new position is taking a ‘capsule’ of myself, CFO, Marketing, Creative, etc, finding someone who shares in vision but is way more skilled than me. Basically, surround myself with better people. However, high-level hires are very energy intensive. Some can take up to a year to fully integrate into a business. And when I make a ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ decision it takes a serious toll on my self personally and the business. Lost opportunity and time.
How many hours a day do you work on average, and what does your typical day look like?
Uh, in all seriousness I work about 11-13 hours a day. 8-5ish, then 8-12. It never freaking ends…hahaha
What motivates you, and who has been your greatest inspiration?
Winning. Being the best. Nevermind money, that will come. At every small detail, I wanna be the best. That’s what motivates me. As far as inspiration, I try to take some from all angles; music, science, literature, engineering, business. To me building a business is like a rock-n-roll band. You gotta have it all — the vibe, the visuals, the energy, and also the tenacity to keep things going when it becomes a grind. If I could highlight one particular person that I relate to, it would be a guy like Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin. He gets a lot of heat for ‘stealing’ pieces of music. However, I view what he did as creating a complex Aura around the brand identity of ‘Led Zeppelin’ that basically paved the way for Rock music for 40+ years. Yes, he borrowed A LOT of riffs and pieces that inspired him BUT, at the end of the day, he packed everything up so tightly that it was an explosion. That kind of stuff gets me fired up.
How do you define success?
Base hits. That’s what keeps me going. Home runs are really nice, but in a game that never ends, its the base hits that keep me going. A killer video project, a rad new product release…that’s what keeps me going. You string enough base hits together and you’re gonna win.
What do you enjoy most about being involved in the SUP industry?
I don’t view what we // I do as being part of an industry. Sure, there are other companies making products. I would call SUP more of a category of our brand. We are going to move WAY outside of SUP over the next 3 -5 years. We are a lifestyle brand that has a foundation with SUP. Strong, solid foundation. We will grow from here.
Where do you see the paddleboarding industry in 10 years? 20 years?
I think the SUP category will exist for many years, but I don’t believe there will be companies where SUP will be the ONLY product they offer. By nature people want simplicity in stand-up, so the question becomes, how advanced and sophisticated can you really go with it? Obviously better products always win, but as far as product is concerned, I think simpler is better.