As undergraduates, industrial design students Morgan Gaumann and Colin Hansel turned their love of surfing into a capstone project—and then, with help from PhilaU’s Blackstone LaunchPad, into a full-fledged business. Now, more than a year out of PhilaU, the two continue to run Rodeobird—building one-of-a-kind surfboards designed for East Coast waves—out of a Kensington-based warehouse just north of Center City.
Reaching customers through word-of-mouth, a boutique N.J. surf shop and sponsorship of seven surfers, the partners work full-time in design jobs while continuing to build their reputations and sales and improve their products. Their handmade boards, tailored for each surfer, take up to four days to make, including drying time, and sell for a competitively priced $500 to $1,000. They are working on expanding into a lifestyle brand, designing apparel such as graphic T-shirts.
“I grew up surfing on the East Coast,” Hansel said. “The waves are different here than on the West Coast, we have shorter rides.”
Determined to stay on the leading edge of innovation, Rodeobird’s founders continue to research and test different materials and composites to improve their surfboards and move toward using 100-percent recyclable materials. See more on their Facebook page.
Read more about Philadelphia University’s startup culture here. The PhilaU Entrepreneurs, a series of profiles on student and alumni business ventures, continues June 24 with a story on 2015 industrial design alumnus Matt Cook’s collection of streetwear-inspired backpacks.
Check out other student and alumni features:
Matt Cook Brings Form and Function to Urban Backpacks
Morgan Berman Designs My MilkCrate App for Sustainable Living
Jonny Nguyen and Christopher Dang Plan to Serve On-The-Go Pho
Galen Kane Designs a Better Water-Filtering Bottle
Log in to Facebook to watch a video of Rodeobird surfer Jason Marks in action.