012: Greg Rudolph - Blazing a Lighted Trail, One Skateboard at a Time

Meet Greg Rudolph, Founder and CEO of Board Blazers - an LED underglow lighting system for Skateboards, Longboards or Scooters. Greg started the company after having had a chance encounter on campus at Arizona State University one evening when he happened upon an excited skateboarder who had duct-taped Christmas lights to the bottom of his skateboard. The skateboarder was so excited in fact that he purposely stopped to show Greg, a complete stranger to him, his novel idea.

Greg was so impacted by the chance encounter in terms of how cool it really looked at night that he immediately began researching more permanent methods, other than duct tape, (although some would argue that duct tape is in fact permanent), to reproduce the effect. Greg settled on super durable LED lighting and had many skateboarders test his product and was satisfied that none had to sacrifice their tricks such as flips, slides or grinds in order to light their boards at night. Board Blazers can be purchased on Amazon or BoardBlazers.com and can be affixed to the underside of any skateboard, longboard or scooter and come in a variety of 8 blazing colors to choose from, such as:

  1. Radical Red
  2. Crazy Color-Changing
  3. Lightning Lime
  4. Popping Pink
  5. Wild White
  6. Blazing Blue
  7. Outrageous Orange; and
  8. Boss Black Light

Board Blazers has been featured in many news media publications including USA Today and Greg himself has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine. Due to his success, Greg has also been asked to speak on multiple occasions and as a result, he has found a passion in helping other entrepreneurs in following their dreams as well.

As such, Greg additionally founded Beyond Business Institute so that he can continue to coach, speak and teach on the finer points of successfully launching a business. 

In the episode itself, Greg shares practical and timely advice that can be meaningful to entrepreneurs at any level. 

 

CONTACT GREG

Board Blazers

Beyond Business Institute

Buy Board Blazers on Amazon


SELECT INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS


WHAT WAS ONE OF YOUR BIGGEST SURPRISES IN LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS?

There are surprises everyday. You’re always learning new things and I think one of the biggest things to remember is that you don’t know what you don’t know. You can’t assume that you know everything and you can’t wait until you know everything. You have to just dive into it…

AS AN ENTREPRENEUR, WHAT HAS BEEN ONE OF YOUR BIGGEST AH-HAH MOMENTS?

Thinking back I can think of a couple of them. Certainly seeing the guy with the lights duct-taped on his board right then I went – “Oh! There you go! There’s the golden idea right there! Wow!” That was the initial ah-hah moment that has carried us through to this day.

…As I mentioned earlier, when I got the first shipment of lights back in our first set of inventory – while it wasn’t exactly what I had in my head it was honestly even better than I could have necessarily designed myself. And so that was a moment of relief and excitement and that was another watershed moment. Like, “oh now we have a really cool, quality product;” and going from idea to reality like that was somewhat of an ah-hah moment.

And then I think another one that really stands out is that Trukfit video because the video with Lil’Wayne made Board Blazers instantly cool. And you can put so much time and effort and marketing behind making something cool but the reality is you don’t get to decide what’s cool and what’s not. Other people have to do that for you; and so that video instantly made Board Blazers cool and that was a terrific ah-hah moment that was more the result of somebody else’s great work than my own. 

WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES THAT YOU FACE IN BUSINESS TODAY?

There’s no doubt that our biggest challenge is inventory management because sales have constantly exceeded our expectations. And so being able to keep up with the demand is our biggest challenge all of the time. We are learning to deal with that and it’s a great problem to have, but that’s definitely our biggest overriding challenge. 

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR FAILURES?

I’ve learned not to take my failures personally but rather to just see it as another business challenge. We all have challenges that come up in our businesses and you need to not see it as an attack on you or something that you’re a terrible person because of or you’re stupid or any of that, it’s just another thing that comes up during my day and just like working any normal 9-5 job this is just another thing that I’m going to deal with, fix it and move on…

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?

From an early age I’ve wanted to start and run my own business. While I’m not necessarily really into skateboarding myself, of all fields you can be in skateboarding is a pretty cool industry. So in any job, you get your kicks where you can and so I really like entrepreneurship and building a business and business strategy and thinking strategically about challenges that come up.

So what motivates me is when a challenge comes up -  not freaking out about it, but taking a step back and thinking; “there’s got to be a better way or there’s got to be a way to solve this what’s that kind of third option?” When you have that moment and you realize what that is and you move forward and execute that strategy, I really get a kick out of that.

WHAT OR WHO INSPIRES YOU?

Certainly my father has been a great inspiration to me. He runs his own company, Industry Mortgage Associates. And I think more than anyone, he understands that mental side of entrepreneurship and the grind that is running your own business.  It’s a terrific thing to be able to employ yourself, but it’s hard because you have to drive your own business forward every day. If you don’t do it, nobody else will.

 I’m certainly not saying that it’s any harder or easier than any other job, its just a challenge that’s unique to entrepreneurship.  My dad understands that and even more importantly, he adopts the business’ successes and failures as his own. And finding somebody who takes what you’re working on so personally is really a special thing. 

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU INTENTIONALLY DO EVERY DAY?

There’s things that I intentionally don’t do which is I don’t answer email before noon and I do intentionally pick an advancement activity. No matter how busy I am, [I focus] on what can I do today to move the business forward? And once I’ve worked on that, then I get into all of the other stuff that goes along with your company. 

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND VISIT YOURSELF PRIOR TO BECOMING AN ENTREPRENEUR, WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE THAT YOU WOULD GIVE YOURSELF?

Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. I was terrified to start a company because I didn’t have any entrepreneurial experience and I didn’t know what to do. So, all of the aspects of starting a business from the… legal things to get a business set up to getting the product made to the web development side of it to the marketing; I had no experience with any of that in terms of doing it myself when its my business on the line. So, every step of the way I was terrified. “Is this the right way to do this?” “Is this the best way to do this?” “What don’t I know that I should? “ And I wish that I had just been more excepting that you’re not going to have all of the answers and you need to embrace that uncertainty instead of run away from it. 

WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS TODAY?

Just start! If you have an idea, start somewhere. It doesn’t even matter what you do first as long as you do something. But doing something is better than doing nothing. I think people starting businesses so often fall into the trap of paralysis by analysis. They want all of the answers and the reality is you’re never going to have that.

So if you have an idea for a business, don’t be afraid to just start because once you figure out the first step and once you do that one thing by just starting, the second and the third step and so on and so forth will become more clear. So whatever your idea is, whatever your ambition, whether that’s running your own company or doing something else, just start and you’ll figure it out as you go along. 


VIDEOS


Lil'Wayne with TrukFit featuring Board Blazers at SXSW in Austin, TX in March, 2013

Watch Greg's Interview on Fox's Live Life and Win

Due to content restrictions, I was unable to post the video here, but the link works fine. 


RECOMMENDED BOOKS


Great Reads of Extraordinary Human Accomplishment

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Business Books

Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki

First, Best or Different: What Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know About Niche Marketing  by John Bradley Jackson

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath