Greg Rudolph developed a product that has quickly become a hit with skateboarders around the world. The best part? “I have no idea how to skateboard – at all,” he told Opportunity Lives.
The idea for Rudolph’s business, Board Blazers, came when he was a student at Arizona State University. Skateboarding around campus was a popular way to get around, and one night Rudolph noticed a student with lights on the bottom of his skateboard.
Impressed by this idea, he asked the skateboarder how he had built the lights, curious to see what brilliant invention this guy had created. The skateboarder was so excited to show off his handiwork: “Bro, I duct-taped Christmas lights to the bottom of my board!”
Rudolph said, “Although the effect was cool, obviously the design could be improved.” So that’s exactly what he set out to do the following summer. He took his personal savings and started looking for a manufacturer for skateboard lights that didn’t involve duct tape.
He came up with Board Blazers, a pack of four small lights that attach firmly to the bottom of a skateboard. The lights are water-resistant and run on a small battery that can be easily replaced. Each light turns on individually, and they last for about 25 hours each before they need to be replaced. Various colors are available on the Board Blazers website.
“I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur but had no idea how to do that,” said Rudolph. He didn’t have any prior experience and started the company out of his parents’ garage.
“When I started the company, my original goal was just to take the place of a summer job,” said Rudolph. He first focused on selling to customers through Amazon, because it helped solve some of the logistical struggles entrepreneurs often face – especially as Rudolph was still attending classes. But soon, he became more and more involved with growing the business.
After graduating in May 2014, Rudolph hired several employees and kept advocating for the product around the country. Board Blazers has now sold to all 50 states and 16 countries, including South Korea, Germany, South Africa, and even some U.S. Navy ships. “It’s amazing to me how far and wide this has gone,” he said.
The product has been well-received among a diverse set of customers. Moms like the product because kids are safer when skateboarding at night, college students customize their light colors to show school pride, and even competitive skaters like that they can use Board Blazers while doing tricks.
From 2013 to 2014, Rudolph said sales increased 114 percent. Through the first 5 months of this year, sales are already up 232 percent over the same period in 2014.
Rudolph said keeping up with this growing demand has been the biggest challenge of running the company. The product has received so much interest that he is constantly manufacturing more Board Blazers and filling orders. In the future, Rudolph hopes Board Blazers can expand to national big-box retail stores around the country.
Rudolph also speaks on behalf of the Beyond Business Institute, which he founded, giving large-scale motivational speeches as well as individual coaching or consulting sessions. He has won several awards for entrepreneurship and loves to share what he has learned in an authentic yet inspiring style.
His advice to entrepreneurs is uncommon but important to remember. “We tend to think of successful entrepreneurs as swashbuckling risk-takers,” said Rudolph. “In reality, smart entrepreneurs seek to minimize their risk as much as possible.”