Business of Flyboard August Edition
Interview with FlyboardLI
By: Shawn Galiotto – Lake Erie Flyboard
Zapata Racing Trademarks – Flyboard®, Hoverboard by ZR®
As another very busy month passes I am pleased to bring you this month’s installment of the Business of Flyboard. We had to skip a month due to it being a very busy season for us here in the north east. It has been an amazing 1st season for us and from talking with many of the seasoned companies around the world. It’s been a very good season so far. The word is getting out there and the inquisitive are coming out in droves to discover our amazing sport. We have had more repeat riders than we expected which has shown us that this sport, like many others is something that hooks you and brings happiness to your life. We have flown everyone from 12 year olds to 75 year olds. And all of them say the same thing, “This is Amazing”. It’s further proof that this invention that Franky Zapata brought us is not a toy but more a lifestyle. When you enjoy it as much as those of us that do this for a living, it becomes a priority. Of course, as the old saying says, you can’t beat doing something you love for your job!
Since we last spoke there have been so many things happening in our little universe. We had Jordan Waymant and Damone Rippy battle it out in Toronto for the first ever Flyboard North American Championships, which saw Damone Rippy take the crown. I had the pleasure of attending the championship and was more than impressed at how organized and energetic the event was. It was portrayed to the public as a primetime event and helped show that this sport is here to stay. The Flyboard Family was a very welcoming bunch and more than willing to welcome those of us who are new into the family. It was very assuring that this is an ever growing group of conscious minds all forging towards a common goal to forever solidify the Flyboards place in history.
Along with the competition, we were treated to the North American premiere of the Hoverboard. Which while watching Franky ride it, I was convinced it looked easy. Well…..now that they have shipped and we have had the chance to ride it, I will bite my tongue and just keep practicing. I know that the Zapata Racing Family is dedicated to giving those of us, who have invested not only our money but also a lot of our time, an opportunity to succeed, by giving us new products to introduce into the business plan. When dealing with items that are priced such as the Flyboard and Hoverboard by ZR it is great to know that we are ever evolving into a full line of products that we can distribute, and keeping the products at a point in which not everyone has one. This is the key to international growth from the rental perspective. This will always give us a fresh look and feel when the seasons roll around. I have had so much interest in the Hoverboard already and have even had a few sales. We know that the focus of the people on top is to forever improve the products and allow for us to grow. In the few brief moments I had to speak with Franky Zapata at the Championship in Toronto, I walked away with the feeling that we are going to see some great things in the future.
One of the great things was seeing all the newcomers showing up to compete with some of the veterans. There were some guys there who just were awe inspiring. Callon Burns, Scotty Kneemeyer, and Jimmy Bissett. Three very impressive new competitors who’s trick execution impressed while also dropping some variations no one had ever seen. I reached out to Jimmy Bissett of Flyboard Long Island to answer a few questions about how his company runs and what being a Professional Flyboarder has done to help his company grow. Here is what he had to say.
1. YOUR NAME AND NAME OF YOUR COMPANY
James Bissett, FlyboardLI
2. GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION
Riverhead- Long Island, New York
3. HOW DID YOU AND YOUR COMPANY GET INTO FLYBOARDING?
Went flyboarding with AZ Flyboard about a year ago and was hooked!
4. IS YOUR COMPANY A FULLTIME BUSINESS?
Up in New York it’s a seasonal sport so right now it’s a part time summer job.
5. HOW HAS YOUR SEASON BEEN SO FAR, HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN AS YOU HAVE EXPECTED AND HAS BEING A COMPETITIVE FLYER HELPED IN PROMOTING THE COMPANY?
The season has been real good so far, have got a lot of response, it’s something new and exciting and people are dying to try it! Being a competitive flyer has helped me in promoting the business, it has helped me with meeting some great people in the business and to get the name out there.
6. WHAT IS YOUR MODEL FOR DAY TO DAY OPERATIONS? DO YOU USE A FIXED LOCATION OR DO YOU TRAVEL AND HOW MANY MACHINES DO YOU RUN AT A TIME?
Right now since this is our first season running we are at a fixed location with one unit. But looking to hopefully get a few remote locations to fulfill our customers wants.
7. TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THE EQUIPMENT YOU USE AND DO YOU USE THE SAME EQUIPMENT TO TRAIN WHEN YOU COMPETE?
The equipment that I use for rentals is a little different from when I compete. The life jackets we use are USCG approved life vests, helmets, and boots that have a size range. When I train and compete, I use a comp vest, which is a little sleeker, and lets us move more freely. Along with the boots, I have boots that fit me perfect!
Photo courtesy of Francois Rigaud Photography
8. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT COMPETITION IN YOUR AREA? IS THERE ANY? DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE NEXT CLOSEST PLACE TO FLYBOARD IS AND DOES THIS AT ALL AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS?
I would love to have a competition in New York, Somewhere in the city in front of millions of people, the crowd would be amazing and will get great publicity. We are the only location on Long island. The next closest would be in the New Jersey area. It doesn’t affect us to much, it just helps the sport grow.
9. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE LIMITATIONS YOU FEEL YOU HAVE DUE TO YOUR GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION, WE ARE ALSO LOCATED IN A WINTER CLIMATE AND WONDER HOW YOU PLAN TO CONTINUE TO MARKET THE COMPANY IN THE WINTER MONTHS?
Living in New York, the summer season is not as long as we would like it to be. And the winters are brutal, this keeps us real busy during the summer. Over the winter I’m going to do some traveling to warmer climates, and keeping all of our fans and clients up to date on news and events getting them excited for the up and coming season.
10. LET’S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT DISTRIBUTION, DO YOU HAVE LARGE INTEREST IN PEOPLE WANTING TO PURCHASE THE BOARD. I IMAGINE THAT YOU HAVE A LOT OF OPPORTUNITY TO SHOWCASE THE BOARD TO PEOPLE WITH THE MEANS TO PURCHASE AS A TOY. DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE HOVERBOARD WILL BE A BETTER SELLER ONCE PEOPLE SEE HOW SIMPLE IT IS?
I have had a few people come to us asking about purchasing but not to many people have followed through. I think because it is so new people aren’t that sure about it, but once it grows there will be many more purchases. I have had a lot of people asking about the Hoverboard, they are extremely excited about that, we will see if those sales take off.
11. WILL YOU BE ADDING A HOVERBOARD TO YOUR RENTAL COMPANY AND DO YOU SEE IT BEING A BIGGER HIT THAN THE FLYBOARD?
I will hopefully be adding the Hoverboard. I will have to find another location for it due to the size of my area that I Flyboard in but that won’t be a problem. I think the Flyboard will still stay strong because there is nothing like it.
12. WHAT OPPORTUNITIES DO YOU FEEL EXIST AS FAR AS AFTERMARKET PRODUCTS, AND ARE THERE ANY PRODUCTS YOU USE THAT BENEFIT YOUR COMPANY?
I am not sure if there is a large opportunity for aftermarket product because of the simplicity of the board, may change the colors around with a few parts.
13. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE AS FAR AS IMPROVEMENTS TO THE FLYBOARD SET UP, IF ANY?
Right now I really like the set-up, it’s quick and easy, That is up to Zapata Racing to make those changes.
14. DO YOU OFFER ANY OTHER SERVICES OTHER THAN FLYBOARDING AND WHAT IS THE BALANCE BETWEEN THE DIFFERENT THINGS, IF ANY?
At our location we offer, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards which people will always love, but when we are flying those people are always coming up and taking pictures!
15. OVERALL WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS THE ONE THING THAT YOU OFFER THAT MAYBE IS UNIQUE TO YOUR COMPANY?
We have a great location right off Main street in Riverhead with a lot of other fun activities to do. It lets you come out for the day with friends and family.
16. HAS THERE BEEN ANY COMPANY THAT YOU HAVE SEEN THAT YOU THOUGHT, “WOW WE NEED TO DO IT THAT WAY. IF YES, WHY?
An ideal place would be on a fresh water lake, with a nice beach so people can hang out all day and watch and enjoy Flyboarding.
17. WHAT, IF ANYTHING ARE YOU LOOKING TO DO TO GENERATE MORE INTEREST IN YOUR COMPANY AND FLYBOARDING IN GENERAL. WILL YOU BE COMPETING IN FUTURE CHAMPIONSHIPS?
I am really lucky to get into this sport as early as I have, and meeting the Flyboard Family. It’s an international sport and is going to be huge, going to the events and shows will always help. I for sure plan to compete in upcoming Championships.
18. WHAT AS A WHOLE COMMUNITY SHOULD WE ALL DO IN ORDER TO BE MORE UNIFORM WITH RESPECT TO THE RENTAL BUSINESS? SUCH AS SAFETY, DISTRIBUTION, ETC.
I think from seeing other businesses, we are all pretty similar, but if you come fly with us in NY or go out west it should be the same experience. Maybe there should be some seminars set up, where all business owners can go to, to get all the latest and greatest news, and make sure we are all doing what is best for the sport and keeping it safe.
19. SOMEONE DISCOVERING FLYBOARDING FOR THE FIRST TIME MIGHT SAY WHAT WE ALL DID AND THINK “I WANT TO DO THIS TOO.” WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM WHEN TRYING TO BRING FLYBOARDING TO THERE AREA?
That is what I did, and I made it happen. It’s not easy being in the north east because of the short season, you only have a few month’s worth of business, and you have some liability, with all the purchases, insurance and all. But it’s a lot of fun. Make sure you speak with all the local officials first, and get everyone on board with what you are doing.
20. WHAT IS YOUR 2 YEAR PLAN AS FAR AS EXPANSION GOES AND DO YOU SEE THIS BEING A LONG TERM , VIABLE BUSINESS?
We are halfway through the first season and so far so good! Like I said earlier I would love to get a few more locations on the island to service our customers. As it grows more it will be a great business just like it is now.
21. THIS QUESTION FRAYS A BIT FROM THE BUSINESS END BUT EXPLAIN TO EVERYONE WHAT THE COMPETITION WAS LIKE AND HOW THE FLYBOARD COMMUNITY IS?
It was my first competition that I was at and it was awesome. We are all one big family. Everyone was great, helping each other and just having a great time flying and having fun!
Well as we can all see, another great story to tell from the sport of Flyboarding. It’s clear that with drive, dedication and commitment, it’s possible to take an opportunity and create something special. I don’t think that in anyone’s wildest dreams only a few short years ago we would have envisioned this new sport and business growing this quickly right before our eyes… And to be be part of it, not only as a spectator but as a contributor is incredible. I have received a lot of emails asking about how to go about setting up a company. I have tried to answer as many of you as I can. To those I have not gotten back to yet please take this advice – Go for it. Don’t wait for anyone. If you love Flyboarding as much as we do then just go for it. It will take a lot of sacrifice and some sleepless nights but in the end you will be thankful that you joined this family. Now go get high, Flyboard High!!!!!!