We had the good fortune of connecting with Aleksei Stojanovic and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aleksei, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The idea behind GoSurf started when I was giving surf lessons at a surf instructor at a local surf camp in Carlsbad, I was getting severely underpaid or paid late at a time when I needed money badly. I attempted to advertise private lessons because that is where most of the money is made in surf lessons, but I found that channels of advertisement were outdated (flyers, Facebook groups, etc.). My thought after this was to create a platform connecting surf instructors with those in need, this way surf instructors would make more money, make their own hours, and have one place to find new clients. I came to my friend Cameron Christian with the idea and he loved it! Cameron and I would surf together every now and then and originally met at an entrepreneurship competition in high school. A couple of years passed, and I found myself on a surf trip near Matosinhos in Portugal in spring 2018. I took a ride-sharing service to get to the next surf town (Ericeira). About halfway through this car ride, the car stops at a train station in a small town called Aveiro. A man in a suit hops in and startles me a little bit. We got to talking and then he asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I told him about the app idea. His eyes lit up and he asked me to intern for him at his startup company headquartered at an incubator at the University of Aveiro. He was unable to pay me, but we came to an agreement where I would get free housing with a friend of his in a farm town nearby and he would show me to go about constructing GoSurf. I immediately canceled my flight back to America and arranged my housing conditions with the person I would be staying with (he also worked at the incubator). He canceled on me at one point and I had to go about convincing a person I don’t know to let me stay at their house. I convinced him and proceeded with moving to a small farm town in Portugal called Curia. Where I would help renovate the hostel we lived at, and commute 45 minutes with Carl (the hostel owner) by train every day to the incubator. I did this for about 4 months until I found the opportunity to present what I had been working on to my university (Arizona State University). If they accepted my venture I told myself I would go back to school there and finish my degree. They accepted me to their entrepreneurship competition called venture devils where I was assigned a mentor and we went on to win grant funding on our first run! Then we won small supplemental grant funding from a global sport pitch competition sponsored by Adidas, and even more grant funding this past December. I also graduated in December and since have taken on GoSurf full time, with my team of 5 co-founders (Cameron Christian, Dominiq Martinez, Andrew Davidson, and Nathan Wesley). We are scheduled to launch on March 26th where we will Livestream a premiere of what we do at GoSurf as well as our vendors’ content.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am most excited about launching the app! We have been taking orders through our website gosurfsd.com, Instagram messages, and emails to connect surfers with our coaches, instructors, photographers, and videographers. We are launching on April 3rd and I am more than ready! I am very proud of how much support we have gotten! We have been raising supplemental funding by selling T-Shirts and Beanies on our websites as well as gift cards for an order of any of our surf resources! It was not easy to get where we are now, it has been a long road and we still have a long way to go! The lesson I’ve learned is to know your market! Talk to your customers, to all of my other entrepreneurs out there, make sure you dedicate at LEAST a couple of hours a week to interviewing your customers or potential customers about the industry you are looking to sell a product or service in. You could be selling a product no one wants or you may find a better version of your product by asking inconspicuous questions that help you figure out what your customer may need rather than what you think they need. to put it simply, make sure you are solving their problem, not the problem you think they have! I want the world to know that our brand has had more than a few pivots in business model, product, and customer segment. It is not “Fail fast” in the startup industry like everyone says it is more like “adapt faster” to me and my team!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Kate sessions park, the best place to wind down after a long day of work, and a great place to hang out. I would eat at Karina’s Taco Shop in Encinitas every day if I could, other than that, check out the beaches, go to events outside, go thrift shopping and roam around the city San Diego has so much to offer! On a side note, try the Kava Collective in North Park, it’s a trippy little place; an alternative to alcohol, and an interesting place to hangout and get some work done.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate a lot of our progression at GoSurf to my co-founders Cameron Christian, Dominiq Martinez, Andrew Davidson, Nathan Wesley, and my mentor Brian Reynolds. Without them, lessons would be learned slower, our reach would be a lot smaller, and my support system would not be there! Another organization that has helped me excel is ASU’s Entrepreneurship program called Venture devils; they have helped us raise small amounts of funding, perfect our business model, and execute our growth strategy. I have met my mentors Brian Reynolds, Stephanie Sims, and Marty Levy through my experience at venture devil, and I could not be more thankful
Other: Our merchandise site: https://shopgosurfmobile.bigcartel.com/