Barrett Honors College student makes lighting up skateboards his business
A chance encounter with a skateboarder gave Greg Rudolph a great idea that has grown into a viable business.
Last winter, Rudolph, a junior majoring in marketing and supply chain management at the W. P. Carey School of Business, and a student in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, happened to see a fellow student rolling along with a glow coming off the underside of his skateboard.
Intrigued, Rudolph stopped the skateboarder and asked to see how the board was lit up. What Rudolph found was a crude arrangement of small Christmas lights and a battery stuck to the bottom of the skateboard with duct tape.
“The effect was great, but the design needed improvement,” said Rudolph, who was convinced he could come up with a better concept. And so the idea of a small light that could easily be affixed to a skateboard began to take shape in Rudolph’s mind.
For months the concept percolated and by summertime Rudolph had a plan. The job Rudolph had for five summers at a water park in his native California ended when the park lost its lease and closed, leaving him time to work on his skateboard light project. He used funds saved from his water park job to finance his new venture.
Throughout the summer, Rudolph developed his design, found a manufacturer, created a website, and established payment channels, packaging and shipping for his product, called Board Blazers.
Board Blazers are small battery-powered LED lights that adhere to the bottom of a skateboard or razor-type scooters. At dusk, the lights can be turned on to create a glowing effect. Board Blazers come in eight colors, including Radical Red, Wild White, Blazing Blue, Outrageous Orange, Poppin’ Pink, Boss Black Light, Crazy Color-Changing, and Lightning Lime.
Rudolph said establishing and running his own company while being a full-time student has been challenging. In addition to his regular studies, he had to learn about product manufacturing, barcodes, product photos, instruction booklets, mailing labels, logo design, and the list goes on.
“I had to take care of a million details, like where do you get custom made LED lights? I learned that with Google and a lot of phone calls you can make practically anything work,” he said, explaining that through Internet research he found a manufacturer in China.
However, it’s all been worth the effort. He has now sold Board Blazers in 11 states and three countries.
“I was so surprised it was a niche that hadn’t been filled and I’m shocked it’s been as successful as it is,” said Rudolph, who counts college students, skateboard enthusiasts and even moms who buy the lights for their kids, as customers.
He declined to give sales figures, but said that in addition to marketing Board Blazers online, he has gotten them into skate shops in Southern California. Rudolph said he also is working with Carve USA and Fresch Electric Bikes to market Board Blazers with their products.
“It was a risk and an investment, but it has definitely been worth it,” he said.
Board Blazers are available at www.boardblazers.com.