Why Smith Board Co?
Smith Board Co was started from the idea that the current wakesurf board industry is stagnant. Look at all the major brands today and you'll see the same boards year in and year out. Yes the graphics might change or a new pro signed to a board but there's no true innovation or engineering happening.
Started in 2022 by Dakota Smith, the idea behind Smith Board Co was to provide a truly personalized ride for every wakesurfer out there. While growing up wakesurfing and wakeboarding, Dakota went on to get his engineering degree from the University of Colorado. He then got his start with researching and designing golf clubs. It was there that he became entranced with pushing the boundary of performance through new materials, new ways to make things, and applying engineering principles in clever ways.
After years of trying to find the right size board that fit his size (he's a big 6'5"!) and ride style he realized that he was going never going to find the right board with current brands and was going to have to bring something new to the table. Through the innovative principles that he utilized in the golf industry to his meticulous engineering approach, Dakota is bringing a fresh new look to the wakesurf board industry.
We caught up with Dakota for a quick Q&A from the facilities out in Erie, CO for more.
Q: Tell us about your lightbulb moment.
Dakota: It's impossible to tell virtually but I'm a pretty big guy. I'm about 6'5" and weigh 230 lbs which is great when I was playing basketball growing up but it means it's been hard to find a wakesurf board that will keep me in the wave.
A few years back I had just bought and was riding one of the big name skim style boards (I won't name names here...) but it was almost impossible to stay on the wave unless it was perfect. I would go out surfing with my wife and some friends and they were able to pull spins and big airs and I was stuck just trying to stay on the wave. It got to the point where I actually purchased a few other types of boards to see if there was anything out there that was easier to ride. Short of getting a surf style board which, at the time, were more akin to surf boards than they are now, I couldn't find anything that worked.
At the time, I was working at a major golf company in the advanced manufacturing and innovation group researching new advanced materials and manufacturing methods. We were well known for our approach to fitting clubs and I realized "why wasn't there something similar for wakesurf boards?". If I could have a board personalized to myself, I wouldn't be spending hours upon hours trying to find something that would maybe work.
Q: Did you know right away you wanted to start your own company?
Dakota: Initially, I thought there had to be someone out there that was providing a more customized approach and so I started reaching out to some of the custom board suppliers. What I realized quickly is that just about every custom supplier was just someone shaping boards out of their garage (or close to it). Their process for getting you a board was usually clunky and took 8 weeks just to get you a board. Not only that but you were stuck to foam core boards and shapes that they had been making for years.
That's when I realized that I could take the knowledge that I had gained from my time in the golf industry and apply it to wakesurf boards. I could bring in a similar approach to club personalization to wakesurf boards as well as apply what we had been working on from the advanced materials and manufacturing methods.
Q: How did you know that there would be a market for personalized boards?
Dakota: Because I knew that I couldn't be the only one in search of a better board. There had to be other riders who were on the edges in terms of height and weight who could use a board better suited to them. In todays world we can buy personalized clubs, cars, suitcases, and just about everything else you can think of. People want to be able to express themselves in their own way and personalizing their wakesurf boards is one way that we hope they can do so.
Q: What is Build Your Board?
Dakota: Build Your Board is our answer to how we can get surfers fit into their personalized boards. Think the Nike Shoe customizer meets wakesurf boards. Through our manufacturing we are able to provide a more personalized approach to wakesurf boards that current industry standards.
Q: What's been you biggest challenge?
Dakota: People are used to being able to go to a pro shop and get the feel for a board. They're used to holding it in their hands and feeling how light or heavy it is. We're not trying to do that one-size-fits all approach and so you won't find many of our boards in pro shops. We're not trying to fit you into a standard model, we're trying to do something new and personalize something directly to the rider.
Q: How are you tackling that challenge?
Our answer is two-fold. First is by providing a tool that allows customers to get a feel for their personalized board where they are. We utilized Augmented Reality technology so that every potential customer and see the boards in their space.
Secondly, we back every board that we sell with a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee. No strings attached. Basically, if you get out on the water and find that you don't like your board, we take it back no questions asked.
Q: What are the benefits to personalized boards?
Dakota: From personal experience, it ends up making your day that much better. Every day out on the water should be a great day, your equipment shouldn't be holding you back. A personalized board is going to make it so that you get to have your best day out on the water. Whether that's pulling shuvits or big airs, your board should always be helping not hurting you.
Q: Do you have to be an expert surfer to justify getting a personalized board?
Dakota: Not at all! In fact, I don't even consider myself an expert surfer. If you are tired of having bad days out on the water or think that your board is holding you back then that's reason enough to get a personalized board.
Q: Where do you see Smith Board Co in 5 years? 10 years?
Dakota: My ultimate goal for Smith Board Co is to make it so every can pursue their passions without their equipment holding them back. I want you to be able to go out there on the water and have your best day with your friends and family because let's face it, every day spent out on the water should be a good day.