As my friends know…I am an avid kiteboarder. My industry friends have shared that in the past few years, SUP has come out of nowhere and become bigger than windsurfing, kiteboarding, and a number of other water sports combined. Some folks think SUP may even become bigger than surfing. The folks that I talked to see three key reasons for this growth that can be a great reminder for entrepreneurs trying to build mass market product successes:
- Easy to learn, Hard to Master - Most people look at a SUP and think they can stand on the board and hold a paddle…no problem. There is no major instruction or training required to get on a board and to try the sport. And there are no major safety issues that you can get wrong and hurt yourself. Nolan Bushnell (founder of Atari) claimed this theorem in video game design: “All the best games are easy to learn and difficult to master. They should reward the first quarter and the hundredth.” From a commercial perspective this is important because resorts can buy a SUP and expect people to try the product and have fun immediately. In contrast, if they buy windsurfing gear…most people will shy away from trying it as there is too much for a newbie to learn upfront about the gear, and how to use the gear, before the user gets any payback.
- Large Addressable Market - Wind sports require wind. Surf sports require waves. You can SUP in the ocean, lakes, ponds and rivers. If you actually run the math…my guess is that the geographical addressable market becomes 1000x greater on a global basis for SUP than a wind or ocean sport. Or as my friend described in one word on SUP’s success: “Walmart.” What he meant is that SUP can be sold in any Walmart in the country, and they are.
- The Magic of New Product Categories - If the product is different enough…it will attract users and magic. New categories are like the wild west. There is an attraction and magic associated with them. Products need to have non-linear improvements to define or redefine a category and create magic. (a) New categories create new celebrities/pros who are able to uniquely take advantage of that new product or platform. With any new sport or platform, there is room for new pros, experts, celebrities to be born. Youtube celebrities are different than Twitter celebrities, who are different than Pinterest celebrities. And it feels awesome to be an expert is something.(b) Humans want to create. There is an attraction to the unknown and being the first to figure out the new tricks and directions you can take something. In the SUP example, many of the tricks and applications of SUP have yet to be explored or defined. River rapid paddling seems to be one of those unexpected areas that people are most recently exploring with SUP:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSaOnQCOiNk
Curious what you think. Hit me up with any reactions or thoughts at @saarsaar. And happy paddling… :-)