Friends paddling towards success after starting business during lockdown | Vicky Meets
Vicky meets... Thomas Richardson from The Paddle Co.
• What’s the background to The Paddle Co?
In May 2020 my friend Elliot Williams and I founded the company. We are both 24 years old and met at Bishop Luffa School in Chichester. We’ve spent most of our childhood around the sea. Elliot was brought up in East Wittering and I spent most of my free time around the waters of Emsworth, sailing, swimming or paddleboarding. Elliot works in the Civil Service and I work in finance, but at the start of the pandemic we both moved back to our parents’ homes from our jobs in London. This change of pace gave us the opportunity to appreciate our local area again. Elliot was looking to get back into paddleboarding as an escape from the work from home lifestyle and couldn’t find an affordable board online. That got us thinking.
• What happened next?
We’re both quite entrepreneurial, so we used the free time that lockdown gave us to research and design a board. We then set about finding a way to manufacture it at an affordable price – that was key. It all happened very quickly. We’ve grown from a single board and only selling locally to over 500 orders across the UK in just nine months. Before we launched ours, paddleboards generally cost over £1,000 each. Ours start from £299 and includes everything you need to get out on the water. The whole process was a massive learning curve, but it was also really interesting. Our boards are manufactured in Asia and we’ve been refining our product since we launched. We’re now confident that ours is up there with the leading brands.
• Paddleboarding is increasing in popularity, but can anyone do it?
Almost anyone can enjoy it, either as escapism or as sport. Our clients are of all ages and very often are people who haven’t been out on the water before. I recently had a message from a 67-year-old lady who had never been on a board before saying that she wanted to go out. We have even had a wedding proposal happen on one of our boards!
• Is it good exercise?
It is really good exercise and fantastic for core stability. But you’re super-stable in the water on our board too and we’re currently adapting it for people who need to sit rather than stand. It will make paddleboarding more accessible to people with disabilities. It’s also great way to escape and enjoy the countryside. You get a completely different view from high up on a board when you are in the middle of the river.
• So what’s next?
Demand and positive feedback has just been amazing and the dream is to make this our future. I’m involved in the Springboard 2 Business [formerly the Chichester Young Chamber of Commerce] which is helping us explore more business to business sales and we are looking to take on an employee soon. Long term we would love to manufacture in the UK. Environmentally we would love to be carbon negative eventually too.
For more information visit www.paddleco.co.uk
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