Guest post by Gary Elphick, CEO Disrupt Surfing
1. Why are you building this startup? What does it do?
Disrupt began with the founding idea that sporting goods are constructed with a cookie-cutter ‘average’ user in mind. This common view assumes that all sportspeople are identical with the same needs, skill level, fitness and tastes.
This is where Disrupt comes in. We aim to ‘disrupt’ these conventions and create an alternative.
Disrupt uses 3D modelling software to allow customers to develop and design sporting goods to suit their specifications. The Disrupt ethos was founded on the driving idea of placing innovation, creativity and customisation into the hands of the customer.
Our current venture is an online platform that allows customers to create entirely sports equipment, starting with our first product line -surfboards. Through data analytics the platform assess the customer’s weight, age, skill level and fitness, loads a 3D based CAD model that the user the finishes off with their own designs and images.
2. What does a product marketing team need to understand from engineering about how to sell the product?
From a marketing perspective, Disrupt aims to simplify the task of customising and personalising sports goods. We are based entirely online, essentially cutting out the middleman, and ensuring that we can be directly involved and able to assist with the customer’s design process. Disrupt’s online customisation platform is clean and easy to navigate, making the otherwise complex software straightforward for the customer to use.
It’s a two-way conversation between marketing and engineering. By allowing transparency in the engineering process, customers are able to see the progress of their boards, essentially taking both sides on the journey together.
As a result of this, the most effective marketing mechanism for Disrupt is a happy customer. By handing over the reigns of creativity and design to the customer, the customer’s satisfaction with their one-of-a-kind piece is the best and promotion we can receive.
3. What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world?
As our name suggests, Disrupt aims to ‘disrupt’ the sporting goods industry. When it comes to manufacturing sporting goods we hope to leave a lasting legacy of customisation, innovation and education. Disrupt views all of us as a creative and unique individuals, and we have confidence that this will be reflected in our products and business model.
4. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start a business in your country?
With the new federal budget’s 20k grants to small businesses, Australia is certainly embracing the start-up movement - now has never been a better time to take the start-up plunge. Australia is a good incubations country but you’ll need to thing global from day one, be able to execute on that scale and show proven market appeal to/
Ask yourself the questions - Is your business innovative/ fresh? How will you generate adequate growth? Who are my competitors? And how will I execute this? Is it truly global? Good luck.
5. How do you work with investors, or do you currently use any outside money at all?
Disrupt is largely self-funding now. We are however are supported and backed by the awesome bunch of advisors at muru-D (Telstra's incubator) and are currently fundraising to expand the platform into Europe and bring on our next product range which will be venturing into snowsports.
6. Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
We all have to start somewhere and Microsoft’s BizSpark program is a vital support figure in start-up ventures – Disrupt included. Start-ups are allergic to overheads and Microsoft seems to appreciate that as well as ‘portfolio theory’ in that if they support enough of the ecosystem, the ones that make it will pay back 100x the cost of supporting the ones that don’t. By allowing start-up companies’ access to Microsoft office, Azure and acting as a mentor for new companies, Microsoft has given Disrupt, and many other start-ups invaluable backing and guidance on our journey in expanding internationally.