Egypt. The first place that comes to mind when you think extreme water sports right? Maybe not but it should. Wael Abdou has masterfully taken his Flyboard Egypt company to incredible heights and continues to expand his winning formula to bring Flyboarding to more people in more places. If you’ve ever met Wael it’s easy to see why success follows him around like a ski behind a flyer. He’s a smart and generous man with a vision. He not only runs very successful businesses but competes himself in the Veterans Division on the Flyboard (currently ranked #11th for Veterans in our H2RO World Rankings)
A newlywed, Wael and his beautiful bride immediately took to the sky and shared a uniquely cool Flyboard moment.
H2RO was very impressed to read recently about another huge sponsorship relationship secured by Flyboard Egypt and thought the timing was great to reach out and talk with Wael about his business and the industry as a whole.
H2RO Magazine Exclusive Interview with Wael Abdou
H2RO) Wael, many of our readers may be familiar with you and Flyboard Egypt but please share with us how you got started with Flyboarding and what some of the early key business tactics you employed were to get moving in a successful direction?
I first knew about the Flyboard the same way many of our riders world wide did after the first video went viral. Then a friend of mine who is the agent in Qatar introduced me to Franky, first I met Franky at the first World Cup in Qatar, then later on I went to France and finalized the contract and had a training course there.
Regarding the key business tactics :
We realized from day one that Flyboard as a product should go further than selling and renting. So we generated a business plan to reach our objectives to have both summer and winter locations to cover most of the year and to approach big companies as sponsors, for group sales and team building. After 2 years now I believe that the business model we generated has over eight ways to generate income when it comes to Flyboard Egypt.
Yes, after 2 years we have four locations :
1) Porto Marina
2) Club M Marrasi
3) Porto Sokhna
Each one of these location has their unique selling points to different segments of customers. Where during the summer we have Porto Marina and Club M, both locations are the main hub for people in the summer as well as the sponsors, during the winter we have Porto Sokhna and Kiteloop, the best two spots for the winter.
For the Red Sea we’re still not allowed to have Jet skis on there so we are working on a project to be offered up to the government soon that will allow us to have spots in both Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh. We believe these locations will take Flyboard Egypt to another level. As for the foreigners these are the best spots, and we are planning to have a centre for Pro riders to train before the World Cup as Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh have great weather at that time of year.
H2RO) Flyboard Egypt is certainly a leader in our Flyboard Industry and an all-around media force to be reckoned with. Your Facebook page has more than 107,000 likes and your company has been in more than 15 newspapers, 10 magazines and done 5 television interviews in the last few years. How have you been able to generate so much awareness and build such vibrant communities with your business?
Well in Flyboard Egypt we’ve believed from day one that we should delegate the missions that’s why we established a department in the company just focused on our social media. They are experts in this field (our sports mainly depend on social media as our potential customers mainly depend on the social media)
On the other hand we had an agreement with a PR firm handling all the media activities and the branding of our company. I can claim that we have the biggest fan page for Flyboard in the world.
H2RO) I have to admit this interview was sparked by news of another very significant sponsorship relationship that you secured with Quiksilver. It certainly isn’t the only high profile sponsor you’ve worked with and I’m curious to know more about how these relationships have come about and what you feel these companies are thinking when they look at the sport of Flyboarding in 2015?
For the last 2 years we’ve succeeded in securing the following sponsors for our locations:
And we are working now for the summer season expecting more companies within next month.
We deeply believe that we have the all time most incredible water sport ever and by having the big companies as sponsors this is a win/win situation for both sides as being our sponsor will fulfill there need for visibility. To have a company as a sponsor you should have a good presentation focusing on the benefits for both sides and you have to be flexible and offer different solutions.
H2RO) Wael you are one of the true pioneers of our sport having competed in all three Flyboard World Cups and currently sit ranked 11th on our H2RO Hydroflight World Rankings (Veteran Category). Talk to us about how your flying has evolved since the very beginning? Did you start with the arms and how did you find the transition to flying without them?
I feel so lucky to have been there for the three Flyboard World Cups. For the first one I was in the audience but for the second and third I passed the qualifications and was a competitor. I was so proud to be representing my beloved country in both of these Championships.
I first started with the arms, then no arms and then began flying with the EMK. I was lucky to be trained from the very beginning in France by the master Franky Zapata. For me flying without the arms is much easier when doing tricks.
H2RO) Having been able to watch the top Pro Flyboarders in the world multiple times, what are your thoughts on the overall progression of our sport and who are some of your favorite flyers?
Our sport is improving very quickly and that should be clear to everyone when you compare the videos from each of the three World Cups. I’m sure much more craziness is yet to come. All the pro riders are my good friends and they share with me all the ups and downs and the happy moments and the sad ones. We are family. Each one of them has their own style and signature on the tricks. But for me as a whole performance and how he promotes himself I’m a fan of Stéphane Prayas. And of course I also like Damone Rippy.
H2RO) Wael, I would think one area many Flyboard business owners feel they could do a better job maximizing are B2B opportunities. You mentioned to me corporate team building, and group sales by businesses for their clients and I’d like to know a bit more about how you’ve been able to grow those revenue streams and what tips you may have for your fellow distributors/dealers?
Well when you are contacting a company for a sponsorship deal you must be flexible and have different solutions available as sponsorship deals are generally approved by the marketing director who always has many more offers than his budget can handle. However for team building your offer will be approved by human resources director who usually has less offers to consider and available budget. Imagine what kind of bonding can occur between employees when you spend 3 days on a beach Flyboarding!!!
As I told you from the beginning being flexible and offering different solutions is how you will end up closing the deal.
H2RO) Wael have you faced any unique challenges specific to bringing Zapata Racing products to Egypt? Do you have any ongoing concerns about how these experiences can grow in your country?
Bringing Flyboarding to Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh are my next challenge. When we started the political situation was so complicated that we focused on the business and we didn’t make excuses we just focused on solutions and now after the country has stabilized we can even say booming we believe that our sport will also boom even more in Egypt.
H2RO) Finally, we are all excited about the new products coming from Zapata Racing this year and I’m curious how the Hoverboard has fit into your business mix recently and what expectations you have for these new products and experiences?
I believe that Franky Zapata is going to rock the world each year with a new invention. For the Hoverboard I’m planning to have different locations than the Flyboard so we can get the best out of it . (different team , different locations , different sponsors , different solutions)
Wael, thank you so much for your time and for blazing such a successful trail for your peers to learn from and follow. With any new, revolutionary idea, product or sport building awareness is the first hurdle and your company has certainly done it’s share of educating and turning people on to our passion.
All the best and thank you for continuing to support H2RO!