Yesterday I’ve read this article from @Tim Denning and drop at this line that remembered me how it all started at Van der Waal and on what I believe in…
Build something that solves a problem you’re obsessed with
There’s nothing better than finding a problem that pisses you off or causes you pain and then solving it. It’s seriously rewarding and it can become your life’s legacy.
How Van der Waal started?
I broke my board in Carcavelos and ordered a new one. I was so excited with my new board, a yellow retro fish, that I started to explain Afonso an idea that I had some time ago: the wax would get the board all dirty and would hide the whole design, and how cool it would be to have an alternative to that…
Afonso said that he had a material that was able to turn into a grip and that it was transparent. At that point, we started to try the material on my board, just as a personal solution to solve my problem. The enthusiasm of friends with my board and our solution led us to think that this could be a product. So we started to look to it from a different side, collecting more professional feedback and making adjustments. One year later Van der Waal was born.
The need to find something that could replace wax on my surfboard was the spark that led me (us) to create a product. At the time, I wasn’t aware of the number of surfers that thought like me, but suddenly we started to sell Van der Waal to everyplace in the world.
Surfers, bloggers, newspapers and other media started to talk about this solution and suddenly we had people saying things like ‘Van Der Waal Changed my Life’, featured at SurfBunker, The Inertia, and Europe SurfMag.
As Van der Waal started to be noticed around the world, I felt a need of writing down some notes on what should drive us on how we should behave as a company and fundamentally with our customers.
Despite it’s something that I need to review from time to time, here is what I believe in, as a ‘What we stand for’ manifesto displayed on our website:
_ a product that is as effective as the wax, at a fair price (how we calculated van der Waal’s price: cost of 1 year of wax + 1 or 2 beers for us), that does not melt or turns sticky, and that is cleaner to the board and to the surfer than wax
_ the environment. By having a less intensive use and by not decomposing in the sea, it’s more environmentally friendly than wax. In addition, our material is recyclable
_ partnerships. We don’t believe in giveaways or exchanging the product for articles, positive reviews or whatever. We gave van der Waal samples to those who believed in us and our idea but distrust the effectiveness of our product. We do not want a ‘bought’ WSL pro, we want those who believe in us to help us build a better and more effective product through constructive, real and objective feedback
_ the common surfer. Van der Waal is not intended for professionals or for surfers who change boards every 3 months. It is intended for the surfer who changes surfboard at most once a year and who cares about the environment. Our product is for those who only want to have fun catching some waves
_ fair play. All those who make their own wax, or who disclose how to do (or sell) it in a more sustainable way, are our friends and not our competitors. Go for it!
_ a company that is not profit-oriented, but oriented for the satisfaction of both its customers and its employees (for now, just the co-founders martim and Afonso, with the help of Joana)
_ our community. Those who buy van der Waal are part of a community that believes in us. And that wants to surf with a smile on their faces.