One thing that’s interesting around here is the amount of people who kiteboard and run tech startups. According to some sources, it’s “The New Golf” I’m sure my friend John, from imeegolf.com would agree!
The thing about kiteboarding is that it’s incredibly dangerous. It’s really hard to learn, and you have to absolutley want to learn. It’s not something that you take up on a weekend. It takes weeks and weeks of expensive lessons. The equipment will cost you several grand. You get dunked in the water countless times. You get wrapped up in your lines. You get pulled up into the air and dropped on to the beach like a bucket of stones. You get dragged across the sand and over sharp rocks…
However, once you learn, it is incredibly rewarding. You get to soar through the air, fly across the water at high speed, and do twists and turns in the air as you learn new and more complicated tricks. It also makes you want to get out of the office once the wind is blowing and there is chance that you can get some wetsuit time.
The thing I love the most is the camradarie and fun you have with the people that you meet on the beach. Because kitesurfers really depend on each other (you always need help to launch and land your kite) you tend to make friends easily. Kitesurfers are probably one of the friendliest bunches of athletes you’ll meet (and I know, I’ve spend a lot of time with other sports people who aren’t half as friendly)
However the most interesting thing is the link between risk and reward in business and in kiteboarding. We all love to take risks, big and small, but kiteboarding is super risky, with big rewards. Its a lot like taking a big risk starting a business, making mistakes, changing direction, getting stung, and trying all over again. The ups and downs are exactly the same.
So it was great coming from Ireland, where I run a kitesurfing association, to San Francisco and discovering a great bunch of guys (including guys like Bill Tai, who lent me his kite, board and harness the first day I met him) who are really into the sport and who have created a really open and friendly bunch of kiteboarding entrepreneurs who are all involved in the startup scene in Silicon Valley. Bill has been instrumental in bringing the guys together and organises parties and gatherings on a regular basis.
I’m looking forward to more kite and business adventures in the coming months!