Business to Know

Business to KnowStephan Aarstol, Founder & CEO of Tower Paddle Boards, shares his story of launching his business, his advice for other entrepreneurs and what he loves most about San Diego as part of the Dirt Road Travels city travel guide for San Diego.

San Diego, California

Tower Paddle Boards

"I've always thought that if you're good at business, you can do anything, so do something that is good for the people you're selling to."

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Tower Paddle Boards

"I've always thought that if you're good at business, you can do anything, so do something that is good for the people you're selling to."

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San Diego, California
Stephan Aarstol, Founder & CEO, Tower

My Story

"In 2010, I went paddleboarding for the first time and saw this trending business with not enough products and a bunch of demand, so I abandoned everything I was doing and just went full into the paddleboard business.

I've always thought that if you're good at business, you can do anything. You can sell payday loans or insurance, or you can go out of the box and actually do something that is good for the people you're selling to. With paddleboarding, it gets you out there in the water experiencing nature, you're getting exercise, you're out in the sun, you're with friends and family, so there's no downside to it.

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This is the type of business that I want to be associated with. If I can pick any of a thousand businesses, I want to pick the one that's enhancing people's lives when they buy the product."

My Advice for Others

"Some businesses require a lot of money, where you'll need to raise a couple hundred thousand dollars or a million dollars, and I screwed around with that for probably five years, trying to start a business by raising money.

When I look back on that, I think it's just a waste of time. Quit all the nonsense of trying to raise money. 

Divide all your business ideas into two piles - one that requires some kind of outside capital and the other that does not - and then just throw out that first list. 

I'm serious about that. I think a lot of people waste a lot of money by saying, 'I'm going to have this great idea, and then I'm going to get someone else to validate that idea by investing in it.'

Don't ask somebody else's permission to do something. You gotta just find a way to bootstrap something.'

Best Advice I've Received

 

"Mark Cuban is a business partner of mine, and I've found that he's super conservative. He's fearful of downside and of losing any money.

Early in the company, we were growing so fast and we were out of stock so fast that we were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. I went to him saying we've got a cash flow crisis and to ask for a loan. He came back to me and said, 'You're thinking about this all wrong. Don't worry about your upside, be willing to forego some of your upside. The fact that you're stocking out is a good thing.'

He said, 'Who cares about your upside? Worry about your downside. Worry about going to zero. Worry about having too much inventory, and then the market changes and you go to zero.'

So it's this paranoia of always worrying about your downside and foregoing your upside. For me, I started with nothing, so I felt I had nothing to lose, so why not shoot for the stars? I was already at zero. 

But Mark Cuban has a totally different approach, and if you look at his career, that's what's made him a billionaire.

He started his first company, sold it and cashed out for a small amount. Then he started Broadcast.com in the whole run-up of the stock market and he was paranoid about that, so he got out of that early. He sold it to Yahoo and immediately cashed out his stock options, leaving billions on the table. He was worried about his downside. It's that perpetual thinking of eliminating the downside risk that makes for long-term success."

Tower Paddle Boards

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Tower Paddle Boards
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Stephan Aarstol, Founder & CEO
Tower Paddle Boards
San Diego
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Tower Paddle Boards
"I've always thought that if you're good at business, you can do anything, so do something that is good for the people you're selling to."
-117.2469337
32.798215

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