Business of Flyboard 2014 Year End Edition
By Shawn Galiotto – Lake Erie Flyboard
Happy holidays hydro sport family. This is my Business of Flyboard 2014 year end edition article and what a year it has been for the Flyboard community and hydro sports in general. We have seen new products enter the market and so many after market products coming into existence. We have seen two major championships take place and a few different types of events pop up focusing on the community. We saw the introduction of the Hoverboard and the Jetblade, along with some other interesting additions to the hydrosports line up. We also had the birth of the wireless EMK. I guess we can say business is good, and will only get better.
As of the last installment of the Business of Flyboard, which seemed to have sparked some discussions, a lot has taken place and it’s all good and positive stuff for the industry and very positive for the future.
Since we last spoke there has been the world record setting Flyboard Family event that was held at Beaver Lake in Arkansas in October. Then there was the FLY-IN held in November in Florida, hosted by the amazing Ben Merrell and PowerFly Products, which looked like another awesome event. That’s one I hope to attend next year. And of course then there was the Flyboard World Championships held just a few weeks ago in Dubai. With the addition of a Veterans category, I hope to attend, compete and win that next year. I don’t know too many people that look forward to turning 40 but with the addition of this division I could not be happier (Beating Suksan is probably not in my future).
All of these events were amazing in their own right.
I had the pleasure of attending the Flyboard Family event and was so thoroughly impressed with the scope of the event, as well as the time and effort it took to put the event on and the classiness of the entire community. I think the final count was 47 Flyboards all up at once. What a day.
The opportunity to not only talk with the community but to be able to fly with them was so amazing and definitely on my list for yearly visits. At the event I had the pleasure of talking with the many owners and operators of companies just like ours.
I asked many of them the same questions.
I asked them to tell me what they thought was the one area that needed improvement. I asked also what many thought the solution was to solve these issues. The issues ranged from better distribution rules and etiquette. To dealing with the coast guard and the laws and regulations that are slowly creeping into our industry. Another popular topic was the help in reducing the cost of insurance and creating a universal safety protocol. All of these issues are valid and in time should be worked out.
I asked many of them to tell me what they thought about the future and what these new hydroflight technologies bring to the table. I asked if there was room in the hydroflight universe for these products and if they thought that they would affect their business or the Flyboard Industry as a whole. I received many answers in many forms, but the same lesson was learned every time. People really love their Flyboards. It’s of course not the board only that they love but the community that exists and is ever multiplying.
I am and will always be partial to the Flyboard, and once I spoke with so many owners and operators I realized what makes the Flyboard so special.
Its ability to wow people. Its ability to allow almost anyone an experience and a sensation like nothing else on earth. And of course its ability to make someone a World Champion.
Some of the other products coming to market and some starting to take direct aim at the Flyboard don’t seem to possess the same magic. I’m sure in time these products will develop their own fans and breed events such as some of those we in the Flyboard Family enjoy.
From my perspective, one of the things that makes the Flyboard different from the other products is that Franky Zapata has made himself available to converse with, fly with , and overall exhibited a genuine desire to watch us all prosper. I had the pleasure of talking with him in Arkansas and Toronto and know that he is committed to creating a sport and business that creates great products and will be the future of extreme sports. That is evident from the hard work you see exhibited by him and his team with such events as the World Cup and Flyboard North American Championships. I’m sure Franky would be the first to hand the event credits over to his team, and that’s rightfully so. (H2RO would like to point out that the Flyboard North American Championship was headed up by Daniel Kaufman of Flyboard Canada and his Canadian Flyboard colleagues.)
He talked about the vision of some of the newer products he’s working on, such as the Airboard and some unreleased stuff he has in that crazy French head of his. I know that the next few years will be full of expansion and new groundbreaking technologies that will cement hydroflight sports into the fabric of the world.
And this is of course good for business. By this time next year we might be talking about air flight technologies and sports, who knows.
One of the major issues I discussed with many was the creation of an association. I know this was explored at one time in the not so distant past and was not as well received by the community as I would have thought. I was one of the first to sign up and was perplexed that we didn’t get a chance to see it come to fruition. With the recent creation of IWFSA (International Water Flight Safety Association) maybe things will change and be well received by the community. I know one of the major issues they are tackling is rules and regulations being discussed within the Coast Guard and similar agencies across the world.
I contacted a Coast Guard commander here locally and asked him if he could enlighten me with any info that I could share with all of you. He told me that currently there is no discussion in a broad sense to regulate hydroflight sports. He explained that in districts located near San Diego, CA and districts near areas of Florida there is discussion to make it mandatory for operators to obtain six pack captains licenses. These are similar to the same rules that a Jetski rental operator would be required to adhere to. He also explained that any regulations that have been discussed are solely focusing on areas that have inter-coastal waterways that are frequented by boat traffic. As well as marinas and slip areas. So basically if you are thinking of flying or operating within these types of areas it’s probably a good idea to discuss your intentions with the Coast Guard in your area and make sure you are not disrupting any flow of that waterway. I also contacted a local sheriff’s office that handles the policing of a local lake and asked him if there has been any negative response to us being there or if they had any concerns. And i quote, “that thing is as cool as shit” end quote. So I don’t think we have anything to worry about there.
It’s a matter of some common sense that if we are safe and respectful then there should be no issues. So stop spraying those sailboat snobs drinking wine in their slip. It’s probably bad for business. As time goes on these rules will become more defined and we will, as a community, conquer them. It’s never a bad thing to be safe.
I hope that this info has helped some of you and we here at H2RO Magazine hope to continue to bring you the information you want. I have received emails from all over the world and I am humbled that so many of you read and enjoy the content and support H2RO Magazine. Thanks for your encouraging words and I love talking to all of you.
I am always asked what we do and how we succeed in such a harsh climate. I mean just last Thursday we got 6 feet of snow, no exaggeration, in about 9 hours. It doesn’t get any harsher than that. So Franky, if you’re reading this can you please make me a snow powered version. If anyone can do it, you can.
But back to business, one of the major things we do is to keep it visible during the winter months and try to build future clientele. One of the ways we do this is by utilizing the malls in the area and using the marketing tools and avenues they have to keep people interested. We even during the peak season of the holidays set up kiosks at several of those malls and offer discounted packages for pre-season sales. The gift of flight is a popular stocking stuffer. This keeps people interested and allows for us to reach people that might not visit local beaches and waterways, but know someone who does. One of the staggering statistics that we discovered from doing it last year is the amount of those that never fly. This is good for basically generating free income but you also have to be prepared when they find it in a drawer this year and call to find out if they can still fly. We give our certificates a 2 year expiration date.
This does come with some challenges that have to be thought through if it’s something you are of thinking of doing. One of the biggest challenges is securing a good price for the kiosk. This can range from 2k to 10k per month for November and December. So choose wisely. The other factor is completing the flights you have sold. We run up to three machines and know we can accommodate the demand, just don’t get yourself overbooked. Of course you also need to reserve some of those funds from those sales for the gas you will need to satisfy those flights.
I can tell you that our kiosks have been quite successful and we are learning each year how to improve our sales and lower our overhead. It is a great way to get out and generate income during months when we are landlocked. It will vary based on your geographic location but here in America we love our malls.
Well that’s this months installment of Business of Flyboard. I hope you have all enjoyed it as well as our previous articles. Since we are here ending the year and have a lot to be thankful for I want to say thanks to a few of you and recognize your hard work.
I want to thank my friends and family for making the season so successful. Without you guys we could not do it. I want to thank the Vance family and the Aquafly crew for putting so much hard work into making our sport shine. Gretchen Vance especially, she never stops moving. Thanks to Ryan Cauly and his wife and their company for welcoming the Flyboard Family to their town. I want to thank Franky Zapata for taking the time to talk with me and my crew. I want to thank all of you who were so welcoming and willing to talk shop with us. Brody Wells, Justin Hullinger, Tanya Verlander, the CanFly boys, and so many more. That’s just to name a few. You were all so great to hang out with. Can’t wait till next year. And lastly I want to thank Blaine, our H2RO Magazine founder and editor. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication. Thanks for your patience and allowing me to reach so many hydro heads.
I hope you all enjoy your families and friends this holiday season and don’t forget to think of those a bit less fortunate, like those who haven’t tried Flyboarding yet. Now let’s go get high, Flyboard high. Oh jeez, I wish. Looks like I got a while but for now I will just watch Rippy vs Suksan a few more times here at the kiosk.
Merry Christmas Ya’ll!!!