INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Rob Meronek from The Boardr, on how skateboarding business is changing
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Rob Meronek : We’re lucky to not have it as bad as many people do. Things are good, we’re learning what’s important and not in the big picture during these constraints, and making the best of the worst.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined The Boardr
Rob Meronek : I’ve been a CPA and software developer for decades, and also a lifelong skateboarder. I’ve been working in the skateboarding industry for 20+ years applying my skillset to companies I’ve worked at and started over the years, specifically in events production.
How does The Boardr innovate?
Rob Meronek : Being in the events business, we’re always tasked by both our clients and our customers to come up with new, more challenging, and more fun ideas and formats for events. Skateboarding has changed more in the last two decades than most sports have changed in the last century. At the same time, it’s core culture and values have remained strong. To remain relevant in an industry like this, you must both be willing to accept and adapt to change and also know what’s important to never change.
A recap of what we did in 2019 is here:
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Rob Meronek : Traditional events have come to a complete standstill. We’ve come up with two event formats to continue through social distancing and remaining safe. Once our stay at home orders were lifted in our county in Tampa, Florida, we used our private facility which has a full skatepark in it to hold a skateboarding contest limited to just 10 kids skating at an advanced level. Each kid was given 20 minutes alone in the warehouse to film their entry. We held a celebrity judging session on Zoom, live broadcast on YouTube, and used our live scoring system to judge and reveal results in real time.
We’re also doing full digital events now that public skateparks are now available. Digital Grind for Life is going on right now. Basically, kids have until June 30th to film a contest entry and register at our site. On July 1st, judges use our live scoring system to watch all the entries and score them like a real contest.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Rob Meronek : We’re lucky to have been forced into minimal difficult choices, but one thing we have learned is that these conditions are accelerating all difficult decisions. That can be both a good thing and bad thing.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and The Boardr in the future?
Rob Meronek : We update our staff weekly on not just working conditions and the pandemic policies for safety we have, but also on our financial picture and the long term security of their jobs. By our calculations and current financial position, we’ve determined we can keep the staff at least through the end of 2020 even if nothing else happens this year, and we’ve informed everyone of that.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Rob Meronek : I guess you could say anyone else doing events is our competitor, but we consider them all our allies in growing skateboarding. We give away all of our knowledge and tools to other event organizers in hopes they can create the same fun and challenging events in their scene to grow skateboarding. For example, we made a fully detailed roadmap on how to do exactly what we do in organizing skateboarding events: https://theboardr.com/post/How_To_Run_a_Skateboarding_Event
We also developed a live scoring system that specifically fits action sports events formats that used by much of the skateboarding, bmx, scoot, and snowboarding industry: https://www.skatescores.com/
Your final thoughts?
Rob Meronek : As I mentioned above, I feel lucky that we’re in a position to easily make the best of these trying times, and learning a lot from it. We live well below our means and that attitude flows through to our business, which really allows us to handle epic disasters like this much more calmly and calculated vs a constant panic mode or simply being wiped out.
More about The Boardr is here: https://theboardr.com/about
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