Saturday, March 16th, Bamboo Skateboards President and owner Geoff Koboldt and intern Myles headed over to Hawthorne to visit the Da Vinci High School of Design. The purpose was to provide the students with an overview of what it takes to create and run a small business; from the conception of an idea to a business plan to daily execution of the strategy. A special thanks to our friend Giselle at UCLA’s MBA program who invited us over.
“Geoff provided a candid look into the hard work and dedication needed to be an entrepreneur. However, what I appreciated most was hearing about his values and ethics which he has successfully integrated into his business endeavors.” – Miracle
Geoff started the presentation by first asking the students what they wanted to walk away with by the time he finished his hour long presentation. This ranged from “Tell us about the creative process” to “What level of education do you have?” to “What mistakes have been made” and about 20 other great questions from these future scholars. Let us also add that not once did we lose our connection to these kids from playing on their phones, dozing off, etc. Very respectful youth!!
The 15 slide presentation started with a series of slides identifying the problem in the skateboarding industry: Skateboarding is a major contributor to maple deforestation in N. America as skateboarding has risen over the past 10 years. Bamboo Skateboards hopes to lessen that problem and change the paradigm to use of sustainable bamboo. Geoff then went on to explain that ideas can start from a simple couple of notes and sketches on a napkin, but one must address what problems are being solved, will this create a niche, does the market demand it and will people pay for it? From there, he identified the mission of bamboo skateboards and it’s 3 pillars of Sustainability, Philanthropy and Quality (Pop, Strength).
When it came to talking about the business plan, Geoff further educated them on the Porter 5-force model, which helps companies understand things such as the barriers to entry, competitive rivalry, buyer power, etc. The students also learned about a SWOT analysis, which represents the internal (Strengths, Weaknesses) and external (Opportunities, Threats).
Next, the students were taken through the various business functions from financing to production to operations to marketing to sales. Real-life examples were given beyond the theory, which tied the learning together and helped reinforce the concepts.
Finally Geoff took them through a day in the life of what he goes through owning a business. Towards that end, this included planning out the action items the night before, getting a good nights rest, a morning meditation, only responding to urgent emails in the morning and reviewing emails only 2x/day at 11am and 7pm, working on time sensitive projects, checking in on operations with employees, etc. He then went on to highlight the good and the bad about business, but definitely more of the good such as the freedom to be your own boss, to feel good about the products you put in the market, to feel great when giving back, to choose your own schedule, write your own rules, etc. When Geoff said he hadn’t up to an alarm clock in 5 years, the students got super excited. Nonetheless, he didn’t let them forget the years he spent in corporate america getting up at 4:30am and working 12 hours before driving an hour to class to sit in school for 4 hours, drive an hour back, sleep a few hours and repeat the process, 2-3x/week for 2 years straight while he earned his MBA.
If there was any message to be delivered it was that life is hard but the only obstacle you need to worry about being limited by is that of your own. Don’t limit your potential. Don’t put up roadblocks to your success. Don’t let your past hold you back.
By the end of it, we got a lot of high fives, hand shakes and photos. The kids seemed very inspired. In fact, one girl wrote 3 pages of notes alone.
After presenting to this outstanding group of students and seeing the intelligent discussion, I don’t worry about the future of these kids. I’m pretty confident that every single one of them is going to college and will do very well for themselves. They are fortunate to go to a really rad school who lets them creatively express themselves without judgment. This year is the first graduating class for this California charter school.
Here’s a video that the students got to watch which helped educate them on bamboo:
Note – If you are in SoCal and interested in having Bamboo Skateboards come speak at your school, shoot us an email. We’ll see what we can do!!!