Be More With Less? The Mexican Surfer And The American Venture Capitalist

Thing Learned

It is easier to plagiarize and modify an existing parable than to write your own. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, on to the story (with a concept attribution to Heinrich Böll 1*Heinrich Böll )

More With Less

Hmm, More with less… great concept. Sounds like what I secretly overheard my wife saying about me to one of her girlfriends trying to explain our romantic life.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Leonardo da Vinci 2*Leonardo da Vinci

The Mexican Surfer & The American Venture Capitalist

An American venture capitalist, Chase, and his wife had just arrived in Puerto Vallarta for a hard-earned vacation. He selected this location so he could ‘Get away from it all.’ He had worked 80-hour weeks for the last few years and just needed a little break.

Chase was ready to rush from the airport to the hotel. He jumped into his rental car and turned on his phone. No service. Thankfully, he had saved a Google Maps image in his email because his phone service wasn’t working. Despite a couple of wrong turns, then aided by friendly locals, he quickly found his resort hotel.

Chase unpacked and went to their balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean. “Ahh, so relaxing,” he thought to himself. He sat on the balcony, fidgeted and reached then for his cell phone… still no service.

He laughed. “I know, I know,” he thought to himself, “I am on vacation, I shouldn’t need a phone. I can just use email if anything work related comes up.”

Ten minutes later he was in front of the hotel concierge asking where the nearest phone store was so he could use Mexican service. He was told there was a Costco nearby, so he jumped into his car again (with written directions) and rushed off to buy a new phone. He rationalized that he could relax more if he knew he was connected.

Surf Marketing

As Chase was driving on the way to Costco he had to slow down due to a bit of road construction. He gazed over towards the beach and saw an old pickup with a handwritten cardboard sign that said, “Surf Lessons.” There was no phone number, no email, no web site listing. The only ‘marketing’ info was a tattered bumper sticker that said, “Work is for people who don’t know how to surf.”

He thought, “What a crummy marketing job. I wonder if it works? How do they get any business?” As he waited for the construction truck to offload materials he was thinking, “How long do I have to wait? This is going to take forever.” With that, he turned onto the gravel road and pulled up next to the old pickup. “Might as well try to relax rather than wait,” he rationalized.

He watched a man pushing a ‘student’ into a few waves and thought that it looked like fun.

Habla Español?

Chase spoke a little Spanish as his gardener and maid were Mexican. “Hola,” he said to the man drinking a cerveza. Before the man replied, he reached into his old cooler, pulled out another beer and said, in perfect English, “You look like you could use a beer.” It was a hot day, and even though Chase didn’t drink more than socially, he immediately said yes and reached for the bottle. “How much do I owe you?” The man replied, “Nothing. Just enjoy it.”

He then extended his hand to Chase and introduced himself as Angel. He pointed to knee-high waves curling slowly, softly towards the beach. Angel then said, “Are you ready to surf?”

So Chase stands there with moisture beading down the outside of the glass of his cold beer, sand in his penny-loafers (without socks) and designer sunglasses. He thought to himself, “So this is vacation.”

Surf Lessons Deal?

Chase looked around and saw no sign indicating the cost and assumed he was going to be gouged since he was obviously tourist. Against his better financial judgement Chase rationalized that he was on vacation and had always really wanted to try surfing. Then he asked Angel how much for the lesson. Angel said it was $25 for an hour. Chase thought to himself, “$25? What is wrong with this guy? $25? Doesn’t this guy know he could be getting $125?” Chase then said, “$25? I’ll take two hours.” Angel replied, “OK, $25 for two hours.”

Chase thought to himself, “Even on vacation, I am a great negotiator.”

Chase was wearing Bermuda shorts so he said, “Let me run back to the hotel and get swim trunks.” Angel just smiled and said, “Those shorts will work. Let’s go.”

With that, Angel grabbed a once white, now faded to pale yellow, 9’6″ long board and started walking towards the water. Chase asked, “What do I do?”

One Foot Forward, One Foot Back

Angel paused, then asked, “Chase, are you left or right-handed?”

Chase didn’t know why it mattered but said he was left-handed.

“Ah, Goofy-foot. That is perfect for this wave because it breaks left.”

“But what do I do?”

Angel replied, “Don’t worry. The ocean will do all the work. You just wait for a wave, stand up with one foot forward and one foot back.”

After quite a few ‘wipe-outs’ Chase finally stood and rode a wave for almost dozen seconds. While Chase was always had his emotions tightly under control, he couldn’t help but let out a, “YEAH!” As his fin hit the soft sand.

Angel saw the stoke and knew it was the perfect end to a perfect two-hour session.

The Truth Of Stoke

A brief time-out to define the truth of stoke. First, a word or two about truth…

Things that tell the truth: puppy dogs, small children, drunk people and yoga pants.

Now let’s talk about stoke. In case you don’t know who stoke looks like, allow Kama The Surfing Pig to illustrate.

Stoke is where you find it.
Find Your Stoke, Where Ever It Is, However You Can

If you watched the above video, you can see how happy stoke makes you. Find your stoke, where ever it is, however you can.

Now, back to our story…

Mañana

Chase felt free of thought, free of pressure, free of, well, everything. He looked at Angel and said, “Mañana?” Angel said, “Sure, when do you want to come back?”

“When is the best time?” Chase asked.

“Sometimes in the morning, just as the tide is coming up is good. Sometimes in the early afternoon, just as the off-shore breeze starts. They are both good.”

Chase then said, “Which is better? When do you go?”

Angel replied, casually, “Both… almost every day. Then just before dusk I go out with my fishing pole and catch dinner for my wife and myself.”

Upon hearing that Angel surfs during the day, then catches fish, Chase complimented the Angel on the quality of his life.

Angel replied, “I live right here on the beach. This home has been in my family for generations. I make enough money from the surf lessons to pay for all I need and there so much fish, we are never hungry.”

Great Business Opportunity

“Wow,” Chase thought, “What a simple business plan. Angel is really on to something here.”

Chase asked Angel, “So you surf and fish?  What do you do with the rest of your time?”

Angel replied, “I make love to my wife. I sleep in unless there are early waves, I always take a siesta with my wife, catch dinner before sunset and then get together with family and neighbors to laugh and talk about the day.” He paused and added, “I have a cold beer too. As you can see I have a very full life.”

Chase returned to the resort trying to comprehend his feeling of ‘stoke.’

Chase watched CNN on TV and the bad news and political caused his surfing stoke to wear off. So later that evening, since Chase finally remembered he was still without a phone, he emailed his east-coast research department a long and detailed assignment and said he wanted it first thing in the morning, and marked the email ‘urgent’ to communicate his demand.

Reciprocity

The next morning Chase was reading the ‘business plan’ he had his staff assemble. He printed out their report and went to meet Angel. Chase thought that since Angel had provided him with the ‘stoke of surfing,’ Chase would provide Angel with the ‘stoke of business.’

Chase met Angel and said, Before we go out, I want you to know that I am a Stanford MBA and a partner in a venture capital firm, and I can really help you.” Angel wasn’t quite sure what a venture capital firm was but politely waited for Chase to tell him more.

Chase pulled out the report his staff had assembled. Chase said, “You have great potential for a surf business. a great business model. You have a highly decentralized market without an industry leader. There isn’t a national chain.. yet. And look here,” he said pointing to his stack of papers, “Over 123 million people, or 39 percent of the nation’s population lived in counties directly on the coastline. 3*39 percent of the nation’s population lived in counties directly on the coastline , so you have a tremendously untapped number of potential users. This could be the next yoga, or at least the next rock climbing trend.”

Chase saw everything so clearly, decentralized market, health and fitness trend, untapped users and much more.

What Do You Think?

Chase asked, “So, Angel, what do you think?”

Chase paused waiting for, looking to see the excitement in Angel’s face. There was none.

Undaunted, Chase went on, “Here is my plan for you. I didn’t think so at first, but now I say we should use your pickup model as our image and corporate logo. I had my staff check and they can produce a prefabricated replica, complete with the rust in the same places as your pickup for about $50,00 per unit.” Chase paused and then added, “Of course, we will make them in Mexico.”

“We will need to anglicize your pickup to match American expectations, so we will add a couple of women in bikinis, just like Carl’s Jr. did.” 4*The CEO of Carl’s Jr. Doesn’t Care If You’re Offended by the Chain’s Sexy Ads We won’t have any problem hiring live models.

“Once we penetrate the market, we can ultimately appeal to social media by creating ‘Surf Bro’ and ‘Surf Wahine” leagues and have them posting their best surfing images. We can create cash incentives for their best images. This way we can get them started at a very young age and capture them for life. We can figure out how set it up just life NFL Fantasy Football 5*NFL Fantasy Football . I am not quite sure how to do that yet, but I have the brightest marketing minds working for me.

“Angel, you then could start training surf instructors. You could charge a fee to ‘certify’ each one so that end-users know they were receiving only pre-qualified, hand-selected instructors.

Wave Surfing Parks

As this surf business grows, we can set up wave parks for landlocked places like Chicago, Dallas and Denver. We will probably just franchise the wave parks 6*Kelly Slater Built the Perfect Wave. Can He Sell It to the World? because they are so expensive, I estimate at least $4-7 million per park, before land acquisition, so we can grow more quickly. Of course, you would have to move Los Angeles so you can be near the beach, near surfers, near manufacturing and the like. Eventually you can expand internationally, probably China first.”

Angel then nods and says, “Hmm.”

Chase doesn’t quite see his excitement reflected in Angel’s response, but he goes on to say, “Then we go to our exit strategy and sell the whole company to someone like Nike, ESPN or maybe even Facebook if we get the social media aspect right. They want to get their users off their couches and then can selfie all the waves they catch via Facebook. If that doesn’t work, we just do an IPO. Ohh, this will be so great.”

Angel looks a bit disinterested but asks, “Chase, that sounds like a lot of work.”

Chase replies, “It is a lot of work, but it is worth it. Normally it takes 15+ years to build a real business, but I think we can do it in 10 years.”

Here’s The Best Part

“And, here is the best part, after you sell, you can buy a home on the beach and surf and fish ALL day.”

What Do You Think? Part 2

Angel says nothing.

Chase repeats, “ALL DAY!”

Still Angel says nothing..

Chase asks, “So, Angel, what do you think?”

Here Is What Angel Thinks – The Really Best Part

Chase looks incredulous that Angel isn’t ready to start the business venture.

Angel sensing that Chase was waiting for a response, paused and thoughtfully said, “Chase, I already surf and fish all day.”

Let’s Go Surfing

Chase thought for a minute, then said, “Oh, I get it. I really get it, now.” And then he says, “Screw it. Why should I work so hard? Let’s go surfing!”

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