A SUP company startup that has quickly emerged as a serious competitor in the industry, GILI Sports is expanding its iSUP lineup for 2020 and we had an opportunity to catch up with founder Jay Regan about the improvements made to the GILI SUP range this season…
Inflatable Boarder: Congratulations on the success of your 10’6″ AIR and Adventure 11′ models, these have been popular boards over the past few seasons. What can you tell us about the changes being made to each of these iSUPs for 2020?
Jay Regan: The 10’6 AIR is getting a complete redesign and it will be offered in four colors (teal, blue, light blue, and green). We’ve added kayak seat d-rings, rear d-rings, upgraded the pump, and also upgraded all of our bags. I’m pretty sure our bags are going to be the nicest on the market – top and side handles, thicker material, and we also added a front zipper pocket!
Last but definitely not least, we’ve added charitable missions to our entire product line for 2020. Last year we did a Save Our Turtle board on the 10’6 AIR Teal board and it sold out in less than two months.
The 11′ Adventure will get an upgraded bag as well. It will also get upgraded removable side fins, a nicer pump, and a fiberglass paddle with an optional, upgraded for 2020, carbon fiber paddle. The GILI Adventure 11′ will come in three colors this year (yellow, blue and teal) and each will have a charitable mission.
For those who aren’t aware, our charitable mission works this way: for every board we sell, we donate a percentage of that sale. It’s usually around $10-15 per board (a significant chunk of the price!).
Inflatable Boarder: That’s awesome, Jay. In terms of expanding the GILI paddle board lineup this year, what can we expect as far as new models go? Are you able to share any specific details with us on the new boards at this point and do you have an official launch date scheduled yet?
Jay Regan: Yes! Our launch date is late March or mid April. It was scheduled to happen sooner, but our factory is delayed due to the current coronavirus issue.
10’6 and 11’6 Meno series boards. These are our premium models, and the measure 10’6″ x 35″ x 6″ and 11’6″ x 35″ x 6″ and feature a carbon fiber rail, a very nice rolling bag, US fin box, removable side fins, front and rear bungees, GoPro/action camera mount, a main fin kit including three different fins (9″ racing, river fin, shallow water fin), dual-chamber triple-stage pump, matching carbon fiber paddle, and of course a leash and repair kit. The 11’6″ Meno board also has Scotty mounts – for a fishing rod and other attachments! These really are cool boards and they’ll be available in blue and teal.
12′ Adventure – in addition to our 11′ Adventure, we’ve got a 12′ coming out – it’s got all the great features of the 11′ but is a foot longer and has Scotty mounts. It’ll be available in blue this season.
10’6″ x 33″ x 6″ Komodo – one of my favorite boards, we’ve taken an all-around size, increased the tail width and sharpened the nose for the ultimate all-around, versatile paddle board. It’s got a full-length traction pad that covers the entire board from nose to tail. We’ve added a removable front bungee system, kayak seat and rear d-rings, and have also added a paddle holder. This is the ultimate board if you want to do yoga, have dogs, or just want the most versatile SUP money can buy. The Komodo comes with an upgraded, dual-action pump, a fiberglass paddle (can upgrade to a carbon fiber paddle), removable side fins, snap-in center fin, and our new upgraded non-rolling backpack. Available in blue and teal.
We will have a couple of new boards coming in 2021, and possibly an epoxy paddle board as well! We’re already working on our 2021 models believe it or not!
Inflatable Boarder: As far as the direction you’ve taken with the brand this season, what were the primary factors that contributed to that? Was it mainly based on customer feedback or something else?
Jay Regan: For the products, we listen very carefully to customer feedback. I also feel at GILI, we need to be pushing the envelope of paddle board design and we always want to be improving our products. We strive for improvements every year.
The charitable part was actually inspired by a friend of mine. I wanted to give back to the world in a sustainable way. We launched our Save our Turtles board, it sold out in less than 2 months and people are still asking for it. Customers tag us with the back of the board with the turtle logo, and so many of them said they bought it because of the turtle mission. So we’ve decided to have a charitable cause on for every single board in our line up. No other SUP company is doing this, either. 🙂
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Inflatable Boarder: Running a SUP company in this highly-competitive market is no easy task. What have been some of your main challenges up to this point and what are you doing to overcome those hurdles?
Jay Regan: Our main challenges have been inventory planning and cash flow. I’ve self-funded the business, and while I have a fortune invested, growing is still a challenge. I’ve never raised money before in any of my companies, but I may start with this business as I think it’s possible to double, triple, and even quadruple our business in the next few years.
We’re also adding new two new marketing channels this year and we hope to expand globally in 2021.
Another challenge is working with influencers. Sometimes our influencers are hard to get a hold of, and some seem to push only the bigger brands. We’re trying our best to become of the big guys, and I truly do think we make some of the best paddle boards on the market. We need help spreading our products and our charitable missions, for sure.
Inflatable Boarder: What can you share with us about the future plans of the GILI brand going forward?
Jay Regan: Absolutely. We’ll continue growing our market share with new marketing channels and entering new markets (Europe, Australia, South America, etc.). We have no less than four new products we’re working on for 2021 and will likely launch another 4-6 in 2022. We’re also working on some hard/epoxy paddle boards and some cool new accessories.
We are also launching a small apparel line with our “Save our Turtles” “Save Our Oceans” charities on them. We’re doing this not so much as to make a profit, but more for branding. There are customers who really want branded gear, especially with our charitable missions on them.