Below is an excerpt from our 2019 interview with Stephan Aarstol, the Founder & CEO of Tower Paddle Boards, who continues his conversation with Brad Kauffman of NoMiddleman.com. If you’d like to read or listen to the full interview, visit the Tower Paddle Boards blog post.
Brad: Great. I think we’ve covered Tower Paddle Boards and the Tower brand pretty comprehensively here, pretty fascinating! Thanks for all the insight into everything from sourcing products, to pricing products, to distributing in online and offline channels. I think this will be very helpful to new and seasoned entrepreneurs alike. So thank you very much!
Stephan: Great! It was a pleasure to talk to you.
Brad: How should people reach out to you and connect with you and Tower?
Stephan: Well, we’re building out our new website, which is going to be TowerBeachClub.com but you can find us on TowerPaddleBoards.com, TowerElectricBikes.com, and SunglassesByTower.com. You can find us on those websites and all our contact information is on those websites.
Brad: Alright, sounds great. Stephan Aarstol, founder and CEO of Tower Paddle Boards. Thanks again for your time and all these insights!
Stephan: Alright, thanks Brad!
If you’d like to skip ahead or go back for previous content, no problem! See below for links and summaries for every segment of our amazing interview with Tower Paddle Boards founder Stephan Aarstol.
Segment 1: Introduction To Tower Paddle Boards And Founder Stephan Aarstol
In this segment, we dive into where it all began for Tower Paddle Boards. We cover Aarstol’s background in online marketing, and how he pivoted away from his poker chip company to pursue his hunch that paddle boards would soon be mainstream. Read more >>
Segment 2: The Shark Tank Effect At Tower Paddle Boards
When Shark Tank came calling, Aarstol answered, and Tower Paddle Boards took off like a rocket ship. But it almost didn’t happen—Aarstol froze on stage, delivering what he calls “the worst pitch in Shark Tank history.” Learn how he crashed, recovered, and landed a deal with Mark Cuban. Read more >>
Segment 3: How Tower Paddle Boards Cut Out The Middlemen And Delivered More Value To Consumers
How did Aarstol figure out how to cut out the middlemen and deliver Tower Paddle Boards direct to consumer, for half of the retail price? In this segment, Aarstol explains how he overcame the price-fixing of the industry’s dominant players to bring consumers lower prices, higher quality, and better service. Read more >>
Segment 4: How Tower Paddle Boards Sourced Factories
When building a direct to consumer business, finding a dependable factory is a competitive advantage, Aarstol says. In this segment he reveals his best tools and tips in sourcing factories: how to find the best ones, how to avoid the scams, and why anti-competitive behaviors are a sign of bigger problems. Read more >>
Segment 5: The Retail Equation At Tower Paddle Boards
“We never want to be that company that just pads our direct-to-consumer margins so we can accommodate retail partners that are taking a 50% cut,” Aarstol explains. In this segment, you’ll learn how Tower Paddle Boards uses their core principles to evaluate retail opportunities. Read more >>
Segment 6: Tower Paddle Boards on Amazon
For direct to consumer brands, Amazon is the elephant in the room. In this segment, Aarstol explains how Amazon has become expensive for consumers and crowded for brands—and why he believes Amazon is merely an online convenience store, carrying the high markups of offline retail middlemen. Read more >>
Segment 7: Disadvantages Of Amazon For DTC Brands Like Tower Paddle Boards
Amazon was good for direct to consumer businesses—until it wasn’t. In this segment, you’ll see the astronomical sales numbers Aarstol enjoyed in the early days, but also the growing challenges: disconnected customer service, increased return rates, and increased fees. Read more >>
Segment 8: Will Tower Paddle Boards Walk Away From Amazon?
Is it time for direct to consumer brands to leave Amazon? How will they survive if so? In this segment, Aarstol explains the two consumer behaviors that he believes will not change in the future, and why that’s good news for brands like Tower—helping them survive without Amazon. Read more >>
Segment 9: On The Horizon At Tower Paddle Boards
What’s next for Tower Paddle Boards? In this segment, Aarstol reveals his perspective on the ideal balance between pricing and quality, and how keeping expenses low (and advertising minimal) impacts Tower’s ability to expand into popular products with exceptional value for consumers. Read more >>
Segment 10: What Informs New Product Ideas At Tower Paddle Boards
By living the beach lifestyle themselves, Aarstol’s team has insights into new products and quality design. “If a company out of New York is creating beach lifestyle products, they really don’t understand the market as well as we do,” Aarstol says. “Our brand has this authenticity, because we’re making products that we know.” Read more >>
Segment 11: What Tower Paddle Boards Is About (From A Value Standpoint)
Tower Paddle Boards went in two unique directions, when it comes to delivering value. Product development is focused on what the consumer needs (not what it costs), and team productivity is fueled by Aarstol’s revolutionary idea to live more by working less—with a five-hour workday. Learn the secrets behind Tower’s popular products and productive culture. Read more >>
Segment 12: Tower Beach Club Offers New Experience With Tower Paddle Boards
In this segment, you’ll learn how Tower Paddle Boards is taking the beach lifestyle experience to an entirely new level with the launch of Tower Beach Club in San Diego. Whether you’re a fan of Tower, or a direct to consumer brand exec, you’ll want to read the innovative retail plans and fun experience ahead for Tower customers and visitors. Read more >>
Segment 13: Connecting with Tower Paddle Boards
As we wrap up the interview, we provide links and information on connecting with your favorite Tower brands—from paddle boards to sunglasses to electric bikes—as well as how to reach out to Tower Founder & CEO, Stephan Aarstol. Read more >>
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